This two-disc set is a true historical treasure. An amateur recording of a Duke Ellington dance engagement at the Crystal Ballroom in Fargo, North Dakota made by two dedicated fans, one a high-school senior at the time, and the other a college student, coupled with a remote radio broadcast complete with a KVOX announcer, it makes a fascinating document of an era long gone.
Ellington's famed orchestra at the time consisted of Rex Stewart, Wallace Jones, Ray Nance, Sam Nanton, Juan Tizol, Lawrence Brown, Barney Bigard, Johnny Hodges, Otto Hardwick, Ben Webster, Harry Carney, Fred Guy, Jimmy Blanton, Sonny Greer, and vocalists Ivie Anderson and Herb Jeffries, and having played the night before in Winnipeg, Canada and traveling by train, they still delivered a fine set.
This is not a professional recording, however, with occasional missed openings and several ongoing microphone adjustments throughout, but that adds to the immediacy and intimacy of it all, really, and as an archival document of one of jazz's greatest bands in full dress at a typical gig, this set is simply a blessing to have and to hear.
Steve Leggett - AMG
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