Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Live at Fargo 1940
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Classic Rock
Legendary performance shows Ellington & His Orchestra & composer/arranger Billy Strayhorn in their prime on this 2-CD set, rich in harmonies, rhythms & section writing featuring Rex Stewart, Ray Nance, Joe Nanton, Lawrence... more »
Legendary performance shows Ellington & His Orchestra & composer/arranger Billy Strayhorn in their prime on this 2-CD set, rich in harmonies, rhythms & section writing featuring Rex Stewart, Ray Nance, Joe Nanton, Lawrence Brown, Johnny Hodges, and many others.
An exciting slice of music history.
Scott Masters | Allen, TX | 10/09/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It's always hit-or-miss when trying a live recording from the pre-magnetic tape era, but I have to say I struck gold on this one. I only wish I could thank the young engineers who had the desire and foresight to try something so bold at the time. I especially like the fact that this was an example of a typical Ellington road show with some local radio broadcasting and the normal band set list. Not the formal show associated with a Carnegie appearance. Here you get the Duke's best-ever band with an emphasis on dance music. Many of their greatest swingers are here and it's pure enjoyment.Ok, now you have to expect some sound issues; the engineers only had a couple of mikes and a record-cutter. I'm really amazed at how good the sound quality is for this era and for the equipment in use. You get some crackle and pop, in some places worse than others. But, the high-end registers very well, the record company did not suppress the highs in order to remove those pops associated with old records, for which I'm thankful. I recommend ignoring the imperfections, turning the volume way up, and revelling in a piece of music history. What more can you ask as a jazz fan than an authentic 40's era Ellington road show? I highly endorse this CD."
One of the greatest jazz concerts ever recorded but....
Scott Masters | 02/04/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"....like the previous reviewer said, the sound quality isn't ideal. However, to be fair, we're lucky to have this recording at all. The reason why it exists is Jack Towers, the famous recording engineer who was just starting out at the time. He had obtained a personal recorder (obviously not the kind you'd expect to find in a good, professional studio) and wished to test it out. He asked Ellington if he could record one of their preformances, in this case, a dance in Fargo, ND. Ellington gave him his blessing, and what we have is a document of Ellington's Orchestra at its peak. These were the years when Ellington was composing his greatest compositions with his great collaborator, Billy Strayhorn, and he never had a better group of players, either. Two of the most renowned players were Ben Webster on tenor saxophone and Jimmy Blanton, who revolutionized bass playing in his brief but spectacular career (afflicted with tuberculosis, he left the band months after this concert and passed away soon after). Also notable is the addition of Ray Nance, who actually makes his debut on this recording; on this recording, he proves himself to be a more than capable replacement for Cootie Williams.Despite the sound quality, this rivals even the Carnegie Hall Concert of January '43 as Ellington's greatest live album. It serves as a great companion to that album, for "Live at Fargo, ND" is a portrayal of the sort of performance most encountered across the country while the "Carnegie Hall" concert is a formal event that was more of a showcase for Ellington's longer, more ambitious work rather than the 78 rpm gems he recorded during the time. Simply put, this is an essential live album for any Ellington admirer."
Ellington and Company Swing Hard and Soft in Fargo
Andrew R. Moraghan | Bismarck, ND | 02/03/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This was truly an historic performance for the ages. According to the liner notes, Ellington and his orchestra came down to Fargo in their Pullman car from a performance in Winnipeg, Canada. Trumpeter Ray Nance met the Ellingtons in Fargo and his career with the orchestra began there. This two-CD set, which includes 40 tunes, contains a nice mixture of Ellington standards, lesser known gems, and classics from other composers. The set begins with "The Mooche," which finds the Ellingtons demonstrating complete command of the rhythms right from the start. The pace picks up a bit with "The Sheik of Araby" and "Ko Ko." What follows next is a charming arrangement of Gladys Shelley's "There Will Be No Night," featuring the soothing vocals of Hugh Jeffries. The microphones for this vocal, and the vocals of Ivie Anderson on later numbers, were not ideally positioned and so the vocals are not as prominent in the mix as would be ideal. However, Jeffries' vocals are clear enough to appreciate his very tender rendition of a sweetly romantic number. "Pussy Willow" and "Chatterbox" follow and they are among the many highlights of the evening in Fargo. The quality of the recording on "Pussy Willow" is especially good. The different sections of the orchestra move through the charts together with remarkable ease on these numbers. Rex Stewart delivers some compelling solos on "Chatterbox."A couple of Ellington standards, "Mood Indigo," and "Harlem Airshaft," follow. The first of these tunes features a couple of long solos on the piano from Duke. Overall, the Ellington classic churns along slowly in rhythm, with Duke adding some nice flourishes behind the orchestra when not soloing. The pace picks up noticeably with "Harlem Airshaft."The radio broadcast of the evening ends with a playful vocal from Ivie Anderson on "Ferry boat Serenade" followed by "Warm Valley." Anderson sings just a single chorus but her voice is in good form and it is obvious she was having a good time.The Ellingtons played a handful more tunes, with some swinging performances on "Stompy Jones" and "Rumpus in Richmond," before taking their first break of the evening.The Ellingtons moved into Duke's standard, "Caravan," not long after the break. On this one, the orchestra cooks in an understated kind of way as one of the song's co-composers, Juan Tizol, solos on trombone with distinction. It should be noted that the recording of "Caravan" is interrupted momentarily about half way through the number and then picks back up. The amateur enthusiasts who received Duke's permission to record this performance had only one record cutter and this resulted in the interruption on "caravan," as well as the openings or closings on several numbers being missed. While this does detract somewhat from the enjoyment of listening to this performance, there are more than enough other magical moments to make this recording well worth adding to one's collection."