Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington: The Fabulous Forties, Vol. 2

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This European issue collects portions of three live radio broadcasts by Duke Ellington recorded between 1944 and 1947. Three of the first six selections feature the pianist leading a nonet (with the rest of his band waiting in the wings), with individual features for trumpeters Ray Nance and Taft Jordan plus baritone saxophonist Harry Carney ("Sophisticated Lady"). Billy Strayhorn takes over the piano and Nance switches to violin for a playful duet of "Moon Mist." The next four selections come from aCiro's in Hollywood, complete with an annoying announcer talking over the song introductions. The sauntering train blues "Happy-Go-Lucky Local" still packs a punch decades later, though neither piece from "The Beautiful Indians" ("Minnehaha" and "Hiawatha" ever caught on with the public, in spite of Ellington's efforts. The remaining tracks are from Ellington's December 1944 Carnegie Hall concert, though none of them duplicate the material released on the Prestige 2 LP set issued during the '70s. The most notable composition is "Frantic Fantasy," a feature for trumpeter Rex Stewart that was performed a handful of times for the next year or so before being dropped from the band book for good. This compilation has better sound than many Duke Ellington broadcasts from this era, so serious collectors will want to keep an eye out for this relatively rare album, appropriately enough, issued on the Rarities label.

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