Duke Ellington’s greatest asset may have been his skill as a listener. He famously recruited a wide array of musicians of varying talent levels and coaxed from them the individual sounds that he valued as theirs alone, then stylized them to his own ends as a composer and bandleader. Ellingtonians were as tight-lipped as the Maestro about his methods, so we know very little about what Duke actually said to inspire Johnny Hodges and Lawrence Brown and Paul Gonsalves. But it’s long been known that he offered Marian McPartland an incisive appraisal of her piano playing when he first heard her in the early ‘50’s at the Hickory House, Ellington’s favorite New York steakhouse. “My, you play so many notes,” was Duke’s brief assessment, and as McPartland acknowledges in the documentary In Good Time: The Piano Jazz of Marian McPartland, he was right.