It was one of several albums he recorded in the early 1960s in a more conservative and accessible style, alongside John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman and Ballads. Despite their differences in background, style and age (Ellington was 63 and Coltrane 36 when the tracks were recorded), it has been said that the two interacted seamlessly and subtly, neither one outshining the other.
The quartet was filled out by the bassist and drummer from either of their bands. The tracks they recorded featured Ellington standards ("In a Sentimental Mood"), new Ellington compositions and a new Coltrane composition ("Big Nick").
Coltrane felt very honoured to work with Ellington: "I was really honoured to have the opportunity of working with Duke. It was a wonderful experience. He has set standards I haven't caught up with yet. I would have liked to have worked over all those numbers again, but then I guess the performances wouldn't have had the same spontaneity. And they mightn't have been any better!"