The three sessions here were recorded in N.Y.C. in 1945 – 2 live sessions (Apollo Theatre and Zanzibar Club) plus one studio session (Radio City Music Hall). The 143 minutes (44 tunes) of music on this double-CD have never been released before. The repertoire is classic Ellington/Strayhorn material – including one Strayhorn medley and two suites (”Trio In Blue” and ”Perfume Suite”) - plus several tunes which were never recorded commercially. Recorded at the end of WWII, the purpose of these three programs – besides providing wonderful music – was to promote the sale of U.S. Treasury bonds to help the war effort. A major attribute of this double-CD is the inclusion of several tunes that Ellington never recorded commercially, like ”Fickle Fling”, ”Hollywood Hangover” and ”I’d Do It All Over Again”. The great musicianship and enthusiasm of Ellington’s orchestra includes countless fine solos – especially with Johnny Hodges and Rex Stewart – and features some great vocals by Al Hibbler, Kay Davis and Joya Sherrill.
Duke Ellington (piano. arranger, leader) / Rex Stewart, Taft Jordan, Shelton Hemphill, Cat Anderson, Ray Nance (trumpets) / Joseph Nanton, Lawrence Brown, Claude Jones (trombones) / AI Sears (tenor sax) / Jimmy Hamilton (clarinet & tenor sax) / Johnny Hodges, Otto Hardwick (alto saxes) / Harry Carney (baritone sax. clarinet, bass clarinet) / Billy Strayhorn (piano & arranger) / Fred Guy (guitar) / Junior Raglin (bass) / Sonny Greer (drums) / AI Hibbler, Joya Sherrill, Kay Davis, Marie (vocals)