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The Complete RCA Victor Mid-Forties Recordings 1944-1946

Remastered, Box Set

4.7 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Box set, Original recording remastered, April 4, 2000
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Editorial Reviews

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This three-CD set is a portion of the extraordinary 24-CD set issued by RCA in 1999 as The Centennial Edition: The Complete Duke Ellington RCA Victor Recordings and it benefits from the tremendous archival and restoration work involved in that project. It's a full 210 minutes of music recorded in a period of just 20 months between December 1944 and September 1946, an in-depth portrait of a musical giant immediately following a two-year hiatus from commercial recording due to the musicians' union ban. Since last recording, the orchestra had made its Carnegie Hall debut, performing "Black, Brown, & Beige," Ellington's most ambitious work. Further, his collaboration with orchestrator Billy Strayhorn, begun in 1940, had continued to develop. Ellington had been building a repertoire and an orchestra since the 1920s, and he was answerable to both the demands of popular fashion and his own creative muse. In fact, they were inextricably combined. He required popular success to maintain the orchestra that was the instrument of his most ambitious compositions, and that duality is apparent here.

The set begins with "I'm Beginning to See the Light," one of Ellington's most popular songs and one he'd been anxious to record, and it also includes the recorded portions of the multipart "Black, Brown & Beige" and "The Perfume Suite." There are new versions of older masterpieces like "Solitude," as well as a series of W.C. Handy songs. It was a period when the Ellington band had a full complement of singers, including Al Hibbler, Joya Sherill, and Kay Davis, both for Duke's own songs (an almost choral version of "It Don't Mean a Thing") and popular fare like "My Heart Sings." Among the intriguing diversions are two one-piano duets with Strayhorn and a cross-town exchange program that found Ellington and Tommy Dorsey appearing as guest soloists with each other's bands on the same day. Throughout, the band is magnificent, with brilliant section work and a host of stunning soloists. Johnny Hodges, Harry Carney, and "Tricky Sam" Nanton had been associates since the '20s, while trumpeters Taft Jordan and Cat Anderson, clarinetist Jimmy Hamilton, and tenor saxophonist Al Sears had been added to the band since they last recorded. It's an engrossing experience for anyone fascinated with Ellington's music and a remarkable window on a brief period in his great career. --Stuart Broomer

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. I Ain't Got Nothin' But The Blues
  2. I'm Beginning To See The Light (Take 1)
  3. I'm Beginning To See The Light (Take 2)
  4. Don't You Know I Care (Take 1)
  5. Don't You Know I Care (Take 2)
  6. I Didn't Know About You
  7. Work Song
  8. Come Sunday
  9. The Blues
  10. Three Dances
  11. Carnegie Blues
  12. Blue Cellophane
  13. Mood To Be Wooed
  14. (All Of A Sudden) My Heart Sings
  15. Kissing Bug
  16. Everything But You
  17. (Otto Make That) Riff Staccato
  18. Prelude To A Kiss
  19. Caravan
  20. Black And Tan Fantasy
  21. Mood Indigo
  22. In A Sentimental Mood

Disc: 2

  1. It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)
  2. Sophisticated Lady
  3. Tonight I Shall Sleep (With A Smile On My Face)
  4. The Minor Goes Muggin'
  5. I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart (Take 1)
  6. I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart (Take 2)
  7. Solitude
  8. Frankie And Johnny
  9. Jumpin' Room Only
  10. Black Beauty
  11. Every Hour On The Hour
  12. Balcony Serenade
  13. Strange Feeling
  14. Dancers In Love
  15. Coloratura (Take 2)
  16. Coloratura (Take 1)
  17. Things Ain't What They Used To Be
  18. Tell Ya What I'm Gonna Do
  19. Come To Baby, Do!
  20. I'm Just A Lucky So And So
  21. Long, Strong And Consecutive
  22. The Wonder Of You
  23. Tonk
  24. Drawing Room Blues

Disc: 3

  1. Rockabye River
  2. Suddenly It Jumped
  3. Transblucency
  4. Just Squeeze Me
  5. A Gathering In A Clearing
  6. You Don't Love Me No More
  7. Pretty Woman
  8. Hey, Baby
  9. (Back Home Again In) Indiana
  10. Blue Is The Night
  11. Lover Man (Take 1)
  12. Lover Man (Take 2)
  13. Just You, Just Me
  14. Beale Street Blues
  15. Memphis Blues
  16. St. Louis Blues
  17. My Honey's Lovin' Arms
  18. (I Don't Stand) A Ghost Of A Chance (With You)
  19. Swamp Fire
  20. Royal Garden Blues
  21. Esquire Swank
  22. Midriff


Product details

  • Audio CD (April 4, 2000)
  • Original Release Date: April 4, 2000
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Box set, Original recording remastered
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: RCA Victor
  • ASIN: B00004S7JJ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #468,972 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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September 20, 2013
Format: Audio CD|Verified Purchase
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January 5, 2014
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December 21, 2000
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