Duke Ellington & His Orchestra toured Europe in November 1969, a time when Duke was still at the top of his powers. The new CD is a recording of the whole of an excellent concert held at De Doelen Concert Hall in Rotterdam—a venue famous for its splendid acoustics.
The ambience is remarkable: The audience is audibly enthusiastic and these high spirits clearly 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.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.
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.
Cat Anderson (tp), Cootie Williams (tp), Ambrose Jackson (tp), Mercer Ellington (tp), Nelson Williams (tp), Benny Bailey (tp), Lawrence Brown (tb), Chuck Connors (tb), Russel Procope (as,cl), Johnny Hodges (as), Norris Turney (as,ts,cl,fl), Harold Ashby (ts, cl), Paul Gonsalves (ts), Harry Carney (bar,cl,b-cl), Duke Ellington (p), Victor Gaskin (b), Rufus Jones (d), Tony Watkins (vcl)
"Duke Ellington, who loved us all madly, remains one of the greatest band leaders, composers, arrangers and talent scouts of the 20th century. You hear and understand why - for better or for worse - on this CD".
- Jens Jørn Gjedsted, Jazz Special no. 150, 2016
Music Web International
"This is an enjoyable disc, reminding us of the Ellington band's skilled ensembles and the strength of it soloists."
- Tony Augarde (full review here)
The New York City Jazz Records
"The center piecce of the concert and longest track is the "La Plus Belle Africaine", a unique piece sui generis to everyhting that is Ellingtonia"
- George Kanzler, TNYCJR