Duke Ellington was stuck with a recording ban during 1943, and regular bookings to maintain his big band were getting more difficult to put together. So the bandleader accepted an extended gig at the Hurricane in New York City, often broadcasting three to four times a week in half-hour segments. This CD compiles two complete programs, and nearly all of a third. Although these shows have the added distraction of an announcer who talks over the introduction to most of the songs, the sound quality is excellent, with great balance and little in the way of distracting surface noise that comes from worn transcription discs. In addition to the expected favorites ("Don't Get Around Much Anymore," "Johnny Come Lately" and "Take the "A" Train"), Ellington explores lesser-known pieces by Cole Porter ("Could It Be You?") and Walter Donaldson ("Nevada"), as well as trying out fairly new works of his own, including "Goin' Up" (also known as "Floorshow") and the world premiere of "Tonight I Shall Sleep (With a Smile on My Face)." With thousands of other Ellington releases available on the market, it's tough to call this CD essential, but serious fans of Ellington will want to pick it up.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden