Duke Ellington

The Duke in Washington

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Thankfully, Duke Ellington's live performances were well documented in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s -- and there is hardly a shortage of live Ellington recordings that are available on CD. Spanning 1943-1969, The Duke in Washington doesn't focus on any one concert. Instead, this Danish release (which Storyville released in 2000) was recorded at six different places -- the interesting thing is that all of them are in Washington, D.C. (the Duke's home town) or nearby in Maryland and Virginia. Many of the performances have some connection to the U.S. government or its military, and the highlights range from performances of "I Wonder Why" (which features vocalist Betty Roche) at the Langley Field Air Force Base in 1943 and "Frankie and Johnny" at the Naval Training Center in 1944 to "Perdido," "All the Things You Are," and "Happy-Go-Lucky Local" at the National Guard Armory in 1955. Ellington's orchestra is heard on most of the material, although "Take The A Train" and "Single Petal of a Rose" (both recorded at Howard University in 1962) find him leading a small piano trio that employs Aaron Bell on bass and Sam Woodyard on drums. The Duke always said that his orchestra, not his piano, was his instrument -- nonetheless, it's nice to hear him stretching out as a pianist in a more intimate setting. And he is heard as an unaccompanied solo pianist on the reflective "Pat," which was performed at the White House on April 29, 1969 in celebration of his 70th birthday. President Richard Nixon was present at that event, and the improvised piece was named after First Lady Patricia Nixon. As interesting as it is, The Duke in Washington isn't essential and isn't recommended to casual listeners. But it's a CD that serious collectors should make a point of obtaining.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
0:27 SpotifyAmazon
2 3:03 SpotifyAmazon
3 3:45 SpotifyAmazon
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5 1:36 SpotifyAmazon
6 7:22 SpotifyAmazon
7 2:28 SpotifyAmazon
8 3:01 SpotifyAmazon
9 5:24 SpotifyAmazon
10 13:50 SpotifyAmazon
11 6:04 SpotifyAmazon
12 4:41 SpotifyAmazon
13 5:26 Spotify
14 5:19 SpotifyAmazon
15 4:16 SpotifyAmazon
3:50 SpotifyAmazon
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