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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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DUKE ELLINGTON

The Treasury Shows Vol. 19

Storyville 903 9019

 

 

CD1

1. Take the “A” Train

2. Just A-Sittin’ and A-Rockin’

3. Duke Ellington Bond Promotion

4. 9.20 Special

5. I Can’t Get Started

6. Flamingo

7. Fancy Dan

8. Diminuendo in Blue

9. Transblucency

10. Crescendo in Blue

11. Duke Ellington Bond Promotion

12. Someone

13. Three Cent Stomp

14. Duke Ellington Bond Promotion

15. I’m Just a Lucky So-and-So

16. Intro

17. Barzallai Lew

18. The “C” Jam Blues

19. Do Nothin’ Till You Hear from Me

20. Subtle Slough

21. Take the “A” Train

CD2

1. In a Mellotone

2. I’m Just a Lucky So-and-So

3. Announcement

4. Sono

5. Rugged Romeo

6. Circe

7. Air Conditioned Jungle

8. Full Moon and Empty Arms

9. Announcement

10. Duke Ellington Bond Promotion

11. Laughin’ on the Outside

12. Take the “A” Train

13. Take the “A” Train

14. Just A-Sittin’ and A-Rockin’

15. Crosstown

16. Duke Ellington Bond Promotion

17. Summertime

18. Teardrops in the Rain

19. Frankie and Johnny

20. Duke Ellington Bond Promotion

21. Hop, Skip and Jump

22. Take the “A” Train

23. Take It From Here

24. Later Tonight

25. Wait for Me Mary

26. Go Away Blues

27. Tonight I Shall Sleep

28. Don’t Get Around Much Anymore


May 1946 sessions (tracks I/1-15, II/1-21)

Shelton Hemphill, Taft Jordan, Francis Williams, Cat Anderson, Reunald Jones - Trumpets

Ray Nance – Trumpet, violin, vocals

Joe Nanton, Lawrence Brown, Claude Jones, Wilbur DeParis - Trombones

Johnny Hodges, Russell Procope - Alto sax, clarinet

Jimmy Hamilton – Clarinet, tenor sax

Al Sears – Tenor sax

Harry Carney - Baritone sax, clarinet, bass clarinet

Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn - Piano

Fred Guy - Guitar

Junior Raglin – Bass (tracks I/1-15, II/1-21)

Oscar Pettiford –Bass (tracks I/16-21, II/22-28)

Sonny Greer - Drums

Kay Davis, Al Hibbler – Vocals

September 1943 sessions (tracks I/16-21, II/22-28)

Taft Jordan, Wallace Jones, Harold Baker - Trumpets

Ray Nance – Trumpet, violin

Joe Nanton, Lawrence Brown, Bernard Archer - Trombones

Johnny Hodges – Alto sax, soprano sax

Jimmy Hamilton – Clarinet, tenor sax

Nat Jones - Alto sax, clarinet

Elbert “Skippy” Williams – Tenor sax

Harry Carney - Baritone sax, clarinet, bass clarinet

Duke Ellington - Piano

Fred Guy - Guitar

Junior Raglin - Bass

Sonny Greer - Drums

Betty Roché, Al Hibbler – Vocals


I have already reviewed several albums in this series of Treasury Shows: broadcasts in which the Duke Ellington Orchestra performed to encourage Americans to buy US Government Bonds. The cornucopia of recordings continues to pour forth its riches, and I haven’t yet grown tired of the output. This double CD contains extracts from four broadcasts: two in May 1946 taken from broadcasts from Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH and Radio City, New York respectively, and two in September 1943 from Duke’s residency at the Hurricane Restaurant in New York City.

The ample sleeve-notes point out that, in the mid-1940s, it was a difficult time to keep big bands together, but Ellington continued in business, even if it involved reading out a corny script publicising Government Bonds between some numbers. The second of these commercials includes what the sleeve notes as a Freudian slip: “Invest regularly in bl…bonds”.

Duke also had to appeal to a wide range of listeners. On the first CD, 9.20 Special is a full-on big-band performance: a Buck Clayton arrangement with a commercial slant more suited to a dance band than a jazz group. Yet it is heightened by jazzy playing from tenorist Al Sears, the dependable Johnny Hodges and a muscular Lawrence Brown. Al Sears also solos with maximum swing on Fancy Dan. Ellington could continue to be adventurous, as in the medley of tracks 8 to 10 which includes a wordless vocal in Transblucency by Kay Davis (similar to her performances in The Beautiful Indians).

Air Conditioned Jungle features clarinettist Jimmy Hamilton and bassist Oscar Pettiford in a fast-moving piece which ends with a very impressive solo cadenza by Hamilton. Billy Strayhorn takes over at the piano (as he does on several tracks), accompanying Kay Davis in a rather unconvincing operatic-style interpretation of one theme from Rachmaninov’s 2nd Piano Concerto, renamed Full Moon and Empty Arms.

The 1943 recordings (tracks 16 to 21) begin fuzzily – a sharp contrast with the clearer 1946 sessions. A highlight of this broadcast is a swinging C-Jam Blues in which Nat Jones’ clarinet solo steals the applause.

The second CD opens with In a Mellotone, where Ray Nance shines with a growling plunger solo. Sono is a piece which was only performed in the 1940s, and it spotlights Harry Carney’s impeccable baritone sax. Frankie and Johnny opens with a sparkling piano solo from the Duke. Tricky Sam Nanton gets to play a growling solo here: it was only two weeks before his death at the early age of 44. This session ends with the ineffable Johnny Hodges featured in Hop, Skip and Jump.

The remaining tracks on this double album return us to 1943, with some nasty noises marring the opening numbers. The sound continues to be fuzzy for some way into this final section. Betty Roché is the vocalist in the rather short Go Away Blues. This compilation shows how Ellington continued to satisfy convinced jazz fans as well as the wider public, with a mixture of outright jazz items and more commercial songs. Whatever the genre, the band’s professionalism and creativity is outstanding.

There are apparently eleven programmes in this series remaining to be issued. There can’t be enough of these invaluable recordings for me.

Tony Augarde
www.augardebooks.co.uk



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