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On April 7, 1945, Duke Ellington begand a series of shows sponsored by the U. S. Treasury Department which ended 45 shows later on October 5, 1946. These albums were released by Sweden's Phontastic label's Nostalgia Series beginning in the early 1980's. Now almost 20 years later, Denmark's excellent Storyville label begins an undertaking to reissue all of these sessions on CD. Not a favorable commentary on our domestic labels when important sessions of this country's greatest composer have to be brought to the public by foreign labels, but thank heaven they have. The war was ending in Europe when this series got underway, but an intense struggle was anticipated for Japan. Treasury, continuing to push War Bonds, sponsored 55 minute Saturday broadcasts by Ellington from various venues, mainly in New York. Storyville has included on a CD a bonus of two 1943 broadcasts of Treasury's Star Parade Show where Ellington's band was the feature.
Duke's band was undergoing some changes during this period. Ben Webster had departed (although he is heard on the 1943 broadcasts), Junior Raglin on bass had replaced the recently departed Jimmy Blanton. Juan Tizol and Harold "Shorty" Baker also departed but like so many former Ellington players, they returned in later years. But the basic foundation of the band was still intact. Johnny Hodges does rhapsodizes on "Don't Get Around Much Anymore". Kay Davis pays honor to Adelaide Hall with her obbligatos on "Creole Love Call". Other great Ellington vocalists are well represented, especially Al Hibbler. Jimmy Hamilton, Harry Carney, Cat Anderson are on hand as part of one of Duke' most creative organizations. The play list, 45 selections, was too long to list here. But it's made up mostly of Ellington/Strayhorn compositions, along with a few pop music of the day and a musical tribute to FDR who had passed during the time of these broadcasts.
Even the demeaning comments of the announcer, like referring to Al Hibbler as "that blind boy who sings with the Duke Ellington Orch.", can't detract from the wonderful music on this album. The liner notes promise a new CD every other month.
Track Listing: Take the "A" Train; Blutopia; Midrff; Creole Love Call; Suddenly It Jumped; Frustration; I'm Beginning to See the Light; Duke Ellington, introduces the Perfume Suite; Love (Balcony Serenade); Violence (Strange Feeling); Dancers in Love (A Stomp for Beginners); Sophistication (Coloratura); Air Conditioned Jungle; I Ain't Got Nothin' But the Blues; Subtle Slough; Passion Flower; Take the "A" Train; Hayfoot, Strawfoot; Don't Get Around Much Anymore; A Slip of the Lip (Can Sink a Ship); Take the "A" Train; Moon Mist; New World a-Comin'; Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen; Mood Indigo; Chant for FDR (American Lullaby); Poor Pilgrim of Sorrow (A City Called Heaven); Creole Love Call; Moon Mist; Any Bonds Today?; Take the "A" Train; Don't Get Around Much Anymore; Caravan; Bond Promo; It Can't Be Wrong; Johnny Come Lately; Any Bonds Today?; Any Bonds Today?;Take the "A" Train; Wait for Me Mary; Moon Mist; Bond Promo; A Slip of the Lip (Can Sink a Ship); Things Ain't What They Used to Be; Any Bonds Today?
Personnel: Collective PersonnelDuke Ellington - Piano/Leader/Arranger; Billy Strayhorn - Piano/Arranger; Shelton Hemphill, Rex Stewart, Taft Jordan, Cat Anderson, Wallace Jones, Harold "Shorty" Baker - Trumpet; Ray Nance - Trumpet/Violin/Vocals; Joe Nanton, Lawrence Brown, Claude Jones, Juan Tizol, Sandy Williams - Trombone; Jimmy Hamilton - Clarinet/Tenor Sax; Sax Mallard, Nat Jones - Clarinet/Alto Sax; Johnny Hodges - Alto & Soprano Saxes; Otto Hardwick, Scotty Scott - Alto Sax; Al Sears, Ben Webster - Tenor Sax; Harry Carney - Baritone Sax/Bass Clarinet/Clarinet; Fred Guy - Guitar; Junior Raglin - Bass; Sonny Greer - Drums; Joya Sherrill, Kay Davis, Al Hibbler - Vocals
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.