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Duke Ellington and His Orchestra, Vol. 2: 1943 Import

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Import, December 1, 1995
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Editorial Reviews

second of the World Broadcasting series, w. Rex Stewart-cornet, Wallace Jones-tpt, Dizzy Gillespie-tpt, Jimmy Hamilton-tmb, Johnny Hodges, Otto Hardwick-reeds, Fred Guy-gtr, Ernest Myers-bs, Sonny Greer-dms, Taft Jordan-voc+, 1943 in NYC, 26 tracks
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (December 1, 1995)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Circle
  • ASIN: B000003CBP
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #508,166 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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'm going to review the Duke Ellington series (vols. 5, 2 and 4) in one spot and copy the same review to the other CDs. These transcriptions are fantastic. Duke still had a great band even though bassist Jimmy Blanton had died the year before. The recordings are even of more interest because this period is a black hole in jazz recording. Because of the musicians union strike, which lasted from 1942-44 we have little record of what the bands sounded like in this period. The only available evidence comes from transcriptions like these (which include blown takes), live recordings and V Discs. All three of these discs are well worth listening to.
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Format: Audio CD
This is the second volume of Circle Record's release of Duke Ellington's World Transcriptions, recorded on November 9th 1943, after Decca Studios signed an agreement with the American Federation of Musicians, beginning the end of the recording ban during which so much good jazz music was lost to posterity.

"Transcription" was recording jargon for recordings made in studio for sale only to radio stations and other non-public purchasers; this strategem was one of the responses to the sense musicians (and their agents) had that they were not well recompensed for radio play of their 78's. These special recordings were quite different in type from those available to the music-buying public; the discs supplied to the stations might play outward as well as inward, and they afforded the musicians longer playing times than the 78 did.

Of more immediate interest to modern listeners is the sound quality of these recordings; they are the best I have heard up to this time, in part, I imagine, because they are in fact transferred from masters rather than surviving 78's.

And, the point of it, the music itself is excellent. It's true that several stars of 1940 are missing: Cootie Williams is gone, Ben Webster as well, the great Jimmy Blanton is dead, and Barney Bigard has departed. But by the time of these recordings, Cootie has to some degree been replaced by Ray Nance, now a prominent trumpeter, and, in my view, as good a singer as Duke ever had. Junior Raglin is, really, quite as good a band-driving bassist as Blanton had been, though no one would claim he compared as a soloist (did anyone, till Scott LaFaro?), and we now hear the rather celebral but always incisive clarinettist Jimmy Hamilton.
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