Personnel: Duke Ellington (piano); Duke Ellington; Joseph Nanton, Lawrence D. Brown, Joe "Tricky Sam" Nanton, Lawrence Brown (trombone); Junior Raglin (double bass); Ray Nance (vocals, violin, trumpet); Joya Sherrill, Kay Davis, Al Hibbler, Marie Ellington (vocals); Fred Guy (guitar); Harry Carney (clarinet, bass clarinet, baritone saxophone); Jimmy Hamilton (clarinet, tenor saxophone); Johnny Hodges, Otto Hardwick (alto saxophone); Al Sears (tenor saxophone); Rex Stewart, Taft Jordan, Shelton Hemphill, Cat Anderson (trumpet); Claude Jones (trombone); Billy Strayhorn (piano); Sonny Greer (drums).
Liner Note Author: Jerry Valburn.
Recording information: 400 Restaurant, New York, NY (05/04/1945-09/26/1945); Radio City Studio 6-B, New York, NY (05/04/1945-09/26/1945); The New Zanzibar, New York, NY (05/04/1945-09/26/1945).
Arrangers: Duke Ellington; Billy Strayhorn.
Duke Ellington appeared in a series of broadcasts during World War II to support the sale of war bonds by the U.S. Treasury Department. This is the tenth two-CD volume of these live performances. Gathered in this compilation are two complete broadcasts from August 1945, along with two airchecks from the same year. In the first Treasury Show, the band plays swinging treatments of "What Am I Here For," "Midriff," and "Harlem Air Shaft," along with pop tunes of the day "Blue Is the Night" and "Out of This World" (which has long since become a standard). There is a bit of minor fluctuation in the volume from the transcription discs that served as the source material, but otherwise, the sound is remarkably clear and free of defects. The second Treasury Show in this two-CD set starts with several excerpts from his extended suite Black, Brown and Beige, with singer Marie Ellington showcased in "The Blues," while the spiritual-influenced "Come Sunday" is played as an instrumental with alto sax great Johnny Hodges taking a prominent solo. Other favorites include "Subtle Slough," with its saucy muted horns (later retitled "Just Squeeze Me" when lyrics were added to it), a vocal duet by Al Hibbler and Kay Davis of "I Ain't Got Nothin' But the Blues," along with "Bugle Breaks," a humorous feature for trumpeter Rex Stewart that was never recorded commercially. The tracks recorded at the New Zanzibar include a number of memorable performances. The brisk take of "Stompy Jones" has fine solos by clarinetist Jimmy Hamilton, trombonist Lawrence Brown, baritone saxophonist Harry Carney, and trumpeters Ray Nance and Cat Anderson, as well as the leader. The languid "Carnegie Blues" and the driving "Fancy Dan" (which was never commercially recorded by Ellington) are also highlights of this date. The brief set from the 400 Restaurant in New York City is primarily a showcase for vocalists, though Lawrence Brown's sensual trombone solo in the pop ballad "I Miss Your Kiss" is yet another tune never commercially recorded. Engineer and longtime Ellington collector Jerry Valburn contributed the detailed liner notes for this compilation, which will be of great interest to fans of Duke Ellington. ~ Ken Dryden