The third two-CD set of Duke Ellington Treasury Shows
, which aired beginning in the closing months of World War II, features two complete consecutive weekly programs, including heavily scripted announcements by Bill Abernathy and the likewise, now somewhat amusing, bond pitches by Ellington himself (the politically correct of today will be shocked to hear him refer to the Japanese military forces as "Nips"). Each of the two discs is rounded out with air checks from late 1945 that originated from the Club Zanzibar in New York City. Like earlier releases in the series, the sound is very good, and one gets to hear Ellington tinkering with his band, auditioning new material and rearranging established compositions. There are several relatively rare performances played on just a relative handful of occasions other than these broadcasts. The lively swinger "Clementine," written by Billy Strayhorn
, deserved a longer life span; it has snappy solos by alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges
and some potent playing by trumpeters Ray Nance
and Rex Stewart
. The brisk "Blue Cellophane" make major demands of trombonist Lawrence Brown
, while a lush arrangement of the standard "Yesterdays" features a vibrato-filled, almost operatic, vocal by Kay Davis
. With literally hundreds of Duke Ellington CDs to choose from on the market at any one time, it is difficult for most collectors to afford, let alone find them all. But any serious fan of his work will find this historic set to be an essential addition to his or her collection.