My jaw dropped when I first discovered Ellington small band recordings from the 50s and 60s - I didn't know music was allowed to be this good. Lawrence Brown, Harry Carney, Russel Procope, Cootie Williams, Paul Gonsalves as well as Johnny Hodges. And of course, Duke Ellington's piano as well.
Some members of the Ted Heath band were invited once in a some New York place to see Duke's small band.
At some point a small man (Strayhorn) walked on stage handing charts. They all put on glasses to read. A guy from the TH band commented: "Two myths are going now: they are getting old like everyone else, and they can read music"