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Duke Ellington and his Orchestra: The Treasury Shows, Volume 7

Toward the end of World War Two, Ellington and his orchestra were featured on a series of radio broadcasts designed to promote the sale of U.S. Treasury Bonds. These Treasury broadcasts, “Your Saturday Date With the Duke,” were issued some years ago on vinyl by the retired recording engineer and wonderfully obsessive Ellington collector Jerry Valburn. These fascinating recordings are finally being issued on CD for the first time. Duke Ellington and His Orchestra: The Treasury Shows, Vol. 7 (Storyville) is a two-CD set of 1945 broadcasts from the Apollo Theater and Zanzibar Club, joined with a studio session from Radio City Music Hall. The enthusiastic New York audiences obviously motivated the band, and they delivered inspired renditions of “Caravan,” “Harlem Airshaft,” “Old King Dooji” and a rip-roaring rendition of Buck Clayton’s “Hollywood Hangover.” By this time Betty Roche is gone, but the band now boasts five terrific vocalists in Marie Ellington, Al Hibbler, Kay Davis, Joya Sherrill and Ray Nance. As good as the vocals are, the most moving pieces are the extended works, including The Perfume Suite, “Blue Belles of Harlem,” The Trio in Blue and especially the Billy Strayhorn medley, with Strayhorn himself at the piano. As with the Hurricane broadcasts, the original source material is not perfect. But here, too, the transfers are done with loving care by Jack Towers. Notes are by Jerry Valburn.

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