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.
Storyville Records is proud to present volume 20 in the Duke Ellington Treasury Shows series. In April 1945, to promote the sale of war bonds, the Treasury Department contacted Duke Ellington to do a series of 55 min public broadcasts. This double CD contains a series of recordings from Paramount Theatre and the famous Hurricane Club complete with radio speaks and encouragements to buy bonds + bonus material and extensive liner notes.
“Big bands were dying off like the dinosaurs, but Ellington transcended Swing and its era. Television was in its developmental stage and by the 1950s would supersede radio. Duke Ellington would outlive the reign of the medium that he so well mastered”, writes Ken Steiner, author of the extensive liner notes, and concludes: ”The band must have been saving its best for this broadcast, which finds them in top form”.
It is also worth noting that 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of composer and pianist William “Billy” Strayhorn. His contribution to the Ellington organization can hardly be overstated and is evident on this CD, which also serves as a tribute to his genius. Not just artistically was he influential —Ellington described Strayhorn as “the eyes in the back of his head”
CD 1 contains a radio broadcast from The Rehearsal Hall at Paramount Theatre, New York, June 1, 1946 plus bonus tracks from The Hurricane Club in New York, September 10, 1943.
CD 2 features a broadcast from WEEU Studios, Reading, P.A., June 8, 1946. The last tracks are again from The Hurricane Club but from September 7, 1943.
The whole Duke Ellington Treasury Shows series will be 24 double CDs. This release is volume 20 and the rest is on the way!