Ellington Recordings on Compact Disc
Cross-referenced Song Lists

Marcus Girvan, Bjorn F. Andresen
and David Palmquist

Last update 2012-07-27
visitors since 2007-05-19

It can be frustrating to find you've just bought an Ellington compact disc that has several recordings you already have. Sometimes you may want to know what's on a CD or box set so you can tell if you already have most of the recordings. DEMS Bulletin 06/2-5 includes a complaint by a member who found his new box set had the same recordings as another one he already had.

Marcus Girvan, Bjorn Andresen and David Palmquist are building a database to help. We list song titles identified byNewDESOR discography numbers, the compact discs they're on (CD name, label and spine number) and usually track duration, composer credits and performers named in the CD label or booklet. Please see the limitations noted below.

We provide 5 versions of the database, with identical information but sorted differently. To read the databases you need Adobe's free Acrobat Reader or other software capable of reading PDF files.

Additionally, Marcus has compiled a comprehensive List of Titles recorded by Ellington, together with composer credits.

We wish to thank Messrs. Luciano Massagli and Giovanni M. Volonté for their kind permission to use the catalogue numbers in their wonderful discography The New Desor - an updated edition of Duke Ellington's Story on Records, 1924-1974. This two-volume publication shows tremendous detail for each recording session and each recording, allowing you to identify the version of a song you are listening to. It has a section showing each recording session or recorded event, with the names of the participating musicians and all the song titles. Another section shows all the song titles, showing every known recording, the structure of each recording, who soloed, for how long, in what part of the recording. There's a section identifying the Ellington musicians, their instruments, their stay in the band and their significant solos on each instrument. Yet another section lists records and CDs by label as well. We highly recommend this discography to those who are serious about their Ellington.

We also thank Sjef Hoefsmit of the Duke Ellington Music Society for his encouragement and support. He has very kindly helped us to identify the recordings that stumped us.

This work in progress will change from time to time as we add more information, find ways to improve the presentation and make corrections. Please email us with any corrections, additions or ideas for improvement.

Our databases are intended to help you decide whether or not to buy compact discs of Duke Ellington's music, but we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness. It may not be suitable for other purposes.

Our recording date information and the performers' names are from the CD covers and booklets in our own collections. While those dates may differ from NewDESOR's information, the recordings can usually be reconciled. We can often identify a NewDESOR number by comparing its description in NewDESOR while playing the song, or by comparison with other recordings we have with the same title. Where we have doubts, we have placed a question mark beside the number.

Limitations and suggestions

Since these files are very large, modem users may find they take a while to open the first time you access them. Your browser will cache the files, though, so subsequent access should be fairly fast. To tell if you need to refresh the database, compare the "last update" information at the top of each page with the same information on the database you've previously downloaded.

Our listed track durations may be inaccurate. Differences arise for several reasons, including the amount of silence at the beginning and end of each track, and whether or not applause, announcements or Ellington's patter have been included or cut. (Or we may have misread those tiny numbers on the CD jackets!) The errors may be enough to confuse one "take" with another from the same recording session.

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The Song Title sort may not be accurate. Song titles are inconsistent from CD to CD and the disc may not use the title listed in NewDESOR. Many compositions had alternate titles, and CDs often exclude the leading articles "A," "An" or "The."

Suites sometimes have each movement on separate CD tracks. Other times there is just one large track, with or without the movements being "indexed." A disc may show the name of the suite as well as the name of the movement, but other discs may omit the name of the suite. When only one movement was recorded, usually the name of the suite will not be included on the CD. Where the CD shows each track separately, we have listed them in separate rows, but the Song Title sort won't place two identical recordings together if the track names are different. Where an entire suite is included in one track, we generally try to show all the relevant NewDESOR numbers as one cell in the same row.

Ellington frequently recorded medleys. Some CDs omit parts. Depending on the CD layout, the titles and references may be shown separately or together.

A solution?

We recommend using the Search or Find tools in Acrobat Reader to identify all occurences of key words in the song title you are looking up. You can use the search feature by pressing Control and F at the same time, or you can click on the Search icon at the top of the screen. Once you find your song, go to the NewDESOR Sort page to see which CDs it is known to appear on.

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Composer and performer information is either as shown on the CD or as shown in the New Desor discography. It may not be accurate; if you find an error, please let us know.

Interpreting our use of NewDESOR numbers

In some cases, we've found differences between the recording date in the discography for the CD and the dates shown in our reference material. Where it isn't clearly the same recording, we've placed a question mark beside the NewDESOR number.

Where additional takes of recordings on a session are apparent but not recorded in New DESOR, we have taken the liberty, or executive decision, call it what you will, to add to the listing with -1, -2, -3, etc. It does not necessarily indicate the order in which the take was recorded but rather the order in which we have been made aware of it.

We have also come across tracks where we either cannot identify the the recording information or which are unlisted. These are represented by ???? or the comment "unlisted". Your help in identifying these would be welcome.

Where there were more than 26 recordings made in a session/concert, NewDESOR's numbers continue past z like this:
  • DE4301y
  • DE4301z
  • DE4301aa
  • DE4301ab
  • DE4301ac
  • etc.

Instead of using aa, ab, etc., we use za, zb, etc. to allow the database to be sorted on the NewDESOR number, like so:
  • DE4301y
  • DE4301z
  • DE4301za
  • DE4301zb
  • DE4301zc
  • etc.

We are at the point now where we can start referring to the DEMS bulletins for NewDESOR corrections Our thanks to Sjef Hoefsmit for that suggestion.

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Copyright in these databases is owned by the authors. You may reproduce these for personal use, but commercial or institutional use will require our explicit permission.

How it began...

In January 2007, Geff Ratcheson wrote to Duke-LYM about a forthcoming box set, saying

" ...it dawned on me that it appears that I'll have to pay for the Fargo concert for the 3rd time to get the other material. If that's true, it's a bit irritating, as I bought both the VJC edition & the Storyville. I am really curious as to exactly what's going to be on the set. Hopefully not a rehash of previous ... releases with a few bonus tracks. As a collector I'm going to want the new material!"

This rang a bell, and I wrote back:

"I hesitate to buy new releases for exactly that reason, Geff. I have many duplicated, triplicated or (quadricated?) recordings in my collection. I've been toying for a while with the idea of trying to catalogue all my CDs by the NewDESOR reference numbers for each recording, and then putting it online. I think it will be a big project. Before I get into it, has anyone already started on this sort of thing, and if so, would they be willing to have it put on the 'web?"

Almost immediately, Marcus Girvan wrote:

"As it happens, I've just finished storing my Ellington CD collection...and have noted the DESOR references, over 3000 and counting, ..."

Shortly after our initial release in May, 2007, Bjorn F. Andresen contacted us to volunteer his services, and we are pleased to include him in our team.

(Notes re The Private Collection)

If you would like to add to this database with similar information about your CDs, please email it to us as a table or spreadsheet.

David Palmquist
Delta, B.C.,

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Check out A Portfolio of Ellington 78 RPM Record Labels, many with links to sound files.