Duke Ellington’s status as a legend is well-merited. This new release presents the star and his whole orchestra in full vigor at a 1969 Rotterdam concert.
Duke Ellington & His Orchestra toured Europe in November 1969, a time when Duke was still at the top of his powers. It is a pleasure to be able to issue the whole of an excellent concert recorded in De Doelen Concert Hall in Rotterdam—a venue famous for its splendid acoustics. The ambience is remarkable on this live recording: The audience is audibly enthusiastic and these high spirits influence the band: Duke Ellington and the orchestra gave two concerts on November 7th, and even though this is the second one, the musicians sound nothing but lively and fresh.
The repertoire includes classics such as “Take the A Train” and “Don’t Get Around Much More” rarely heard as swinging as on this day, vigorous and fresh versions of “Kinda Dukish” and “Rockin’ In Rhythm” and the newer 1966 composition “La Plus Belle Africaine”, the centerpiece of the concert.
Among the soloists we find Johnny Hodges playing as beautifully as ever on “Black Butterfly”, only half a year before his death. Other prominent band members such as Cootie Williams, Lawrence Brown, Harry Carney and Paul Gonsalves are also featured.
The never before released 1969 Rotterdam concert exhibits Duke Ellington & His Orchestra on one of their most intense and enthusiastic nights. Still in a brilliant mood after two concerts, Duke Ellington even played an after-party concert with a quartet—Storyville Records hopes to issue these recordings in the future.