Earlier this month, Storyville released volume 22 of its ”Duke Ellington Treasury Shows” and the end of the series is slowly approaching. Like volume 21, it gives us two broadcasts from the West Coast or, more precisely, California.
The first one is from August 3, 1946 and the Golden Gate Theatre in San Francisco and the second one from August 17, 1946 and the Meadowbrook in Culver City. They are supplemented by two bonus broadcasts – one from El Patio Ballroom, July 15, 1942 and the other from the Hurricane Restaurant in New York August 21, 1943.
The two 1946 broadcasts were part of the original Duke Ellington Treasury Show LP series (volume 42 and volume 43) and are Treasury Show broadcasts #43 and #44.
The two bonus broadcasts have not been issued commercially before except for one of the songs played at the El Patio Ballroom, which was included in a Jazz Archive album many years ago.
It is interesting to compare the programs for the two 1946 broadcasts. Each is almost totally different from the other. The only tune they have in common to them in addition to ‘Take The A is ‘Just Squeeze Me’. So the broadcasts must have been important to Ellington as a showcase of his music.
Both broadcasts include a longer number. In the August 3 one, it is Blues Cluster’ with ‘Transbluency’ linking together ‘Diminuendo in Blue’ with ‘Crescendo in Blue, while it is The Tonal Group with Rhapsoditty/Fugueadity/Jam-A-Ditty in the August 17 broadcast.
What a luxury it must have been for Ellington to include such works in a radio program! I cannot really think of any other big band orchestra leader, who did have this kind of opportunity.
Other highlights of the album are for me ‘The Eight Veil’ and ‘A Flower Is A Lovesome Things’ on the first CD and on the second one Metronome All Out with a strong 5 chorus solo by Oscar Pettiford. Ellington’s interpretation of the two tunes out of Basie’s repertoire – 9:20 Special and One O’Clock Jump – is also interesting to listen to and compare to the Basie versions. They are both arranged by Buck Clayton.
However, the music in the album is not the only reason to buy the CD box but also the linear notes which comes with it. They are a master piece not to be missed. Roger Boyes pour all his knowledge of Ellington and music over us in a structured and elegant way to ensure that we understand the context in which the broadcasts took place and the details and history of each of the songs.
Finally, even if the DETS box was issued in the beginning of October, it is difficult to find it. So far, I have found it only in a download format on iTunes, Amazon and similar sites.