Duke Ellington The Duke At Fargo 1940 Special 60th Anniversary Edition

The Duke At Fargo 1940: Special 60th Anniversary Edition is the latest version of this live recording by Duke Ellington and his orchestra.

It was recorded at the Crystal Ballroom on the second floor of the Fargo City Auditorium in Fargo, North Dakota on 7 November 1940. This captures the band in its Blanton-Webster years, often considered to be the peak period of the Duke Ellington orchestra.

Two fans, Jack Towers and Richard Burris, were given permission to record the performance using technology that transferred the sound to 15 minute long acetate covered, aluminium discs. Part of the concert was also recorded by KVOX, Fargo’s local radio station at the time.

It was only after Ellington’s death that the recording was made available commercially and it has since been released several times.

Duke Ellington The Duke At Fargo 1940 Special 60th Anniversary Edition

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Songs On Duke Ellington The Duke At Fargo 1940 Special 60th Anniversary Edition

Disc 1

It’s Glory – 0:47
The Mooche – 5:24
The Sheik Of Araby – 2:55
Sepia Panorama – 1:15
Ko Ko – 2:22
There Shall Be No Night – 3:09
Pussy Willow – 4:34
Chatterbox – 3:22
Mood Indigo – 4:15
Harlem Airshaft – 3:43
Ferryboat Serenade – 1:33
Warm Valley – 3:36
Stompy Jones – 2:42
Chloe – 4:03
Bojangles – 4:02
On The Air – 5:08
Rumpus In Richmond – 2:36
Chaser – 0:15
The Sidewalks Of New York – 5:07
The Flaming Sword – 4:59
Never No Lament – 4:21
Caravan – 3:44
Clarinet Lament – 3:28

Disc 2

Slap Happy – 3:24
Sepia Panorama – 5:11
Boy Meets Horn – 5:36
Way Down Yonder In New Orleans – 1:27
Oh Babe, Maybe Someday – 2:17
Five O’Clock Whistle – 2:00
Fanfare – 0:32
Call Of The Canyon – 1:33
Rockin’ In Rhythm – 4:54
Sophisticated Lady – 5:11
Cotton Tail – 3:06
Whispering Grass – 2:30
Conga Brava – 4:07
I Never Felt This Way Before – 5:29
Across The Track Blue – 6:44
Honeysuckle Rose – 5:08
Wham – 2:49
Star Dust – 4:15
Rose Of The Rio Grande – 3:33
St. Louis Blues – 5:39
Warm Valley – 0:50
God Bless America – 0:28

The sound quality is surprisingly good for an amateur recording made over 75 years ago but it’s not perfect. The singers don’t come over well and it would be lovely to own a time machine to go back and record this with modern technology because the performance is excellent.

The band is hot and playing for a dance audience short, snappy tunes with infectious rhythms.

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