Personnel: Duke Ellington (piano); Ray Nance (vocals, trumpet); Al Hibbler, Betty Roch‚ (vocals); Fred Guy (guitar); Jimmy Hamilton (clarinet, reeds, tenor saxophone); Johnny Hodges, Otto Hardwick (reeds, alto saxophone); Elbert Williams (reeds, tenor saxophone); Harry Carney (reeds); Dizzy Gillespie, Taft Jordan, Wallace Jones (trumpet); Rex Stewart (cornet); Juan Tizol, Lawrence Brown (trombone); Sonny Greer (drums).
Audio Remasterer: Jack Towers.
Recording information: New York, NY (11/08/1943-11/09/1943).
In the 1980s, the release of Duke Ellington's complete transcriptions for World Broadcasting was a major addition to his already sizable catalog. The songs on this compilation include everything recorded on November 8, 1943, with two takes from the next day's session. The fidelity is outstanding, as Circle was able to utilize the original glass masters, resulting in sound that exceeds many of Ellington's commercial recordings of the era. That said, the presence of numerous incomplete takes and false starts makes it difficult to listen to the complete CD all the way through. Highlights of this first volume include "Rockin' in Rhythm" (spotlighting trombonist Tricky Sam Nanton); Rex Stewart's cornet in his special feature, "Boy Meets Horn"; Johnny Hodges' lush alto sax in "Sentimental Lady" (also known later as "I Didn't Know About You"); and "Blue Skies" (also known under the title "Trumpet No End"), Mary Lou Williams' arrangement of Irving Berlin's landmark piece. Dizzy Gillespie is a special guest, taking the place of Ray Nance and Shorty Baker on the initial session. This is an essential purchase for Ellington fans. ~ Ken Dryden