DUKE ELLINGTON MUSIC SOCIETY
01/1 April-July 2001
FOUNDER: BENNY AASLAND
Voort 18b, 2328 Meerle, Belgium
Telephone: +32 3 315 75 83
DISCUSSIONS - ADDITIONS - CORRECTIONS
What is the correct date for the 1950 Hamburg concert?
DEMS member Helmut Kirch has sent me in Aug97 a copy of a letter by Olaf Syman published in Jazz Journal of May97, from which I have printed the most important part in the 97/3 Bulletin on page 18/2. I print Olaf's letter and Helmut's comment again for the benefit of those who recently became DEMS members:
For many years all discographies were happy to record a Duke Ellington concert broadcast by BFN (British Forces Network) from Hamburg on June 10, 1950. Then Vol. 6 of Jazz Records appears — edited by Ole J. Nielsen — and adds the site of the concert as Ernst Merck Halle.
This hall did not exist at that time. Ellington gave two concerts at the Musikhalle on June 5 and three at a jerry-rigged aluminium contraption called the Alu-Palast on June 10 and 11. How do I know? I went to three of them.
The BFN had its studios in the Musikhalle and according to BFN Bulletin No. 38 ‘The Ellington Orchestra recorded two programmes for us, the second of which is this week’s offering in Radio Rhythm Club on Wednesday’. (The 10th was a Saturday.) Since they call the Hamburg Musikhalle ‘BFN’s concert hall’ it’s obvious that their broadcast would come from the June 5 date.
I know Syman is right about the Ernst-Merck-Halle. It was built later in the fifties. I can’t say if he is right on the other points also (dates and locations). I can find no other dates and locations apart from 10 June and Ernst-Merck-Halle. Maybe you have more and better information.
That the location cannot have been the Ernst-Merk-Halle but
the Musikhalle is confirmed by Bernd Hoffmann in his presentation at the
1999 Darmstädter Jazzforum (see DEMS 99/4-2) which is published in
"Duke Ellington und die Folgen" (see DEMS 00/4-9).
On page 59 I read: In der Hansestadt durften die Besucher der Ränge in der Musikhalle "nicht trampeln, nur in die Hände klatschen, nicht rhythmisch mit den Füßen und Fäusten poltern, nur taktvoll aus dem Munde jubeln" — soweit die im Konzert vorgetragenen Hinweise auf baupolizeiliche Vorschriften des Hamburger Musentempels. Und der Schreck dieses "swingenden" Gebäudes saß derart tief, daß knapp drei Jahre nach Ellingtons Konzerten der Auftritt der Norman Granz Tournee "Jazz at the Philharmonic" in die Ernst-Merk-Halle verlegt wurde — mit dem Argument, "das Publikum" würde "durch wildes Trampeln die Galerie zum Einsturz" bringen.
Bernd Hoffmann took the quotes from Josef Marein's articles in Die Zeit — Wochenzeitung für Politik-Wirtschaft-Handel und Kultur, Hamburg 1950, 5. Jahrgang, 15Jun50, p.11, and 8. Jahrgang, 5Mar53, p.5.
A much more complicated question is the date of the Hamburg concert, the only concert during the European tour from which recordings have survived.
On the same day that DEMS Bulletin 97/3 was mailed (17oct97), the late Ole Nielsen wrote me a letter which has not yet been published in the Bulletin. This is what he wrote: I'm working on an article for the Bulletin. It's about a letter in Jazz Journal International, May this year. The letter goes like this: (here followed a copy of the complete letter by Olaf Syman from which we re-printed the most important part in the beginning of this article, in Helmut Kirch's contribution).
There is something wrong about the date on 5Jun, because Ellington had concerts in Sweden on the 3rd and 4th of June. At his tour Ellington's band was going by train and he simply cannot have gone from Sweden to Hamburg, make the band ready to give two concert at the "Musikhalle" on 5Jun and go back into Århus to have two gigs there on 6Jun. It is simply not possible time-wise. I need some more investigations before I want to fire.
Ole included in his letter Xerox copies of tickets for the 2 concerts at Stockholms Konserthus, Stora Salen on 3Jun and tickets for 2 concerts at the Kungliga Tennishallen on 4Jun.
Ole Nielsen's information becomes of vital importance in connection with Bernd Hoffmann's research through the German press of those days, the result of which he presented in Darmstadt last year.
Bernd comes up with a revised itinerary of Duke's concerts in Germany between 27May and 13Jun50.
Many dates in the itinerary, which we gave you in DEMS 97/3-18/2, are wrong.
28May is not Frankfurt but Hannover. I prefer to keep the same date for the first and for the second evening concert, even if the second started in or went on into the early hours of the next morning. Other people take the exact (following) date for a second concert if it starts after midnight. It seems to me that in this case this practice has caused confusion. The second concert in Frankfurt, Althof Bau, may have started after midnight i.e. very early on 28May, but Duke was on the evening of 28May in Hannover at the Niedersachsenhalle. This is confirmed in the Hannover Presse of 20, 24 and 27May50.
29May Hamburg is claimed by Olaf Syman in a letter to Gordon Ewing of 15Mar92. This date is not confirmed by Bernd Hoffmann and also not re-confirmed in Olaf's letter to Jazz Journal in 1997 but there is an indication that it may be correct. See later.
There is a serious problem about the concert on 4Jun. Bernd Hoffmann gives us on that date a concert in Hamburg at the Musikhalle. He has a strong case, because there was a NWDR (North West German Radio) broadcast on 4Jun between 23:00 and 23:50 called "Duke Ellington in Hamburg". The only solution to this dilemma comes from Olaf Syman. If we accept that Duke was in Hamburg earlier, for example on 29May, we can also accept that recordings were made on that occasion in the Musikhalle, and then broadcast on 4Jun — i.e. on exactly the same evening that Duke did two concerts in Sweden in Kungliga Tennishallen.
This is a translated quote from Bernd's article on page 87 of the book "DE und die Folgen":
There are apart from the printed reports in the papers a great number of radio broadcasts documenting the performances of the orchestra. Four confirmed NWDR broadcasts contain several recordings from a concert in Hamburg: the broadcast on 4Jun (23:00-23:50) "Duke Ellington in Hamburg", on 11Jun (1.00-2.00) and on 26Jun (23:15-23:50) give with their pertinent announcements of the Musikhalle as the location of recording an indirect reference to two in time and place different concerts in Hamburg. The author of the article in "Die Zeit", Josef Marein, mentions both the Musikhalle and the metal Alu-Palast, where there are no different dress-circle, upper circle or balcony seats.
A choice must now be made. Was it really impossible to travel that fast in these days? Or do we have to believe that Bernd Hoffmann has not found a confirmation of a genuine 29May Hamburg concert? On the other hand, if there was a broadcast on 4Jun with music played in Hamburg, when was it recorded? And why did Olaf only mentioned 2 concerts on 5Jun at the Musikhalle and 3 concerts on 10 and 11Jun at the Alu-Palast and not repeat in his letter of May97 to Jazz Journal his claim about the 29May concert as mentioned in his letter of 15Mar92 addressed to Gordon Ewing? If Duke was not in Hamburg on 5Jun, he could have been in Oslo. There is an unconfirmed claim, which seems possible as far as distances are concerned.
There were three dates in Gothenburg with a question mark in Duke's Itinerary. One date has now been established by Bernd Hoffmann. 8Jun is Frankfurt. This makes a performance on 9Jun in Gothenburg highly unlikely because Duke was back in Hamburg on 10Jun at the Alu-Palast. This claim by Olaf Syman is confirmed by Bernd Hoffmann. Bernd has not confirmed the 11Jun Alu-Palast concert as mentioned by Olaf in his letters to Gordon Ewing and to Jazz Journal. If Duke played three concerts in the Alu-Palast I am inclined to believe that all three were not performed one immediately after the other. There is no concert claimed at another location on 11Jun and the Dortmund concert on 12Jun, confirmed by Bernd, certainly makes a two-day stay in Hamburg on 10 and 11Jun a possibility.
Here is a preliminary revised version of this part of Duke's itinerary.
May 27 – Frankfurt, Althof Bau – Variety 17May p.67; Frankfurter Rundschau 20May p.9 and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 30May p.11
May 28 – Hannover, Niedersachsenhalle – Hannover Presse 20, 24, 27May
May 29 – Hamburg, Musikhalle – Olaf Syman letter 15Mar92
May 30 – unknown
May 31 – Copenhagen, KB-Hallen – Erik Wiedemann, "Musik & Forskning" 87/88 #13
June 1 – Copenhagen, KB-Hallen – Erik Wiedemann "M&F"
June 2 – Malmö, Stadsteatern – not confirmed
June 3 – Stockholm, Konserthuset – concert tickets
June 4 – Stockholm, Tennishallen – concert tickets
June 5 – Hamburg, Musikhalle – Olaf Syman in his letter to Jazz Journal. (Or was this Oslo?)
June 6 – Århus, Århus-Hallen – Erik Wiedemann "M&F"
June 7 – Gothenburg – not confirmed
June 8 – Frankfurt – Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 31May50 p.10 and 2Jun50
June 9 – Gothenburg – not confirmed and unlikely
June 10 – Hamburg, Alu-Palast – Olaf Syman letter 15Mar92 Josef Marein in Die Zeit 15Jun50 p.11
June 11 – Hamburg, Alu-Palast – Olaf Syman letter 15Mar92 maybe early morning concert
June 12 – Dortmund, Capitol – Bernd Hoffmann mentioned this concert, without a specific reference
June 13 – Düsseldorf, Apollo Theatre – Programme 13Jun50 Rheinische Post and Düsseldorfer Stadtpost 1Jun and 12Jun50
New Year's Eve 1958/1959
There is, in various discographies, a mention of 2 Ellington broadcasts from the Blue Note in Chicago, on 31Dec58 and 1Jan59. According to what I can make out from the tapes, the one that is listed as being from New Year's Eve, is actually from 1Jan, as the announcer in his conversation with Duke says "it is half past 1958". This being the case, this broadcast is actually sequenced after the other one which starts with Auld Lang Syne.
What do you think?
Only Timner has two broadcasts on two different days: 31Dec58 and 1Jan59. Both Nielsen and DESOR have both broadcasts on the same day: 31Dec58.
I have noticed the same strange sequence earlier, but I immediately blamed the different time zones in the USA. Now you have brought up the matter, I have listened again to both broadcasts and I think you are right. Both broadcasts are very clearly on-the-spot recordings made at the Blue Note in Chicago, with the live audience very well captured. The only explanation I can think of is that the Auld Lang Syne broadcast was recorded at midnight in Chicago and broadcast an hour later in another time zone. But that does not make the sequence correct. We should try in discographies to respect the sequence in which the selections were performed and not in which the music was broadcast. I am in favour of keeping the date as 31Dec58. If we try to distinguish between the end of the evening of one day and the start of the morning of the second, we end up with great problems. Many concerts and recording sessions would have to be split into two parts and we would then have to dec! ide for certain selections to which part they belong. The sound and easy solution is to use the date on which the session or performance started for its continuation after midnight, even for pieces we know were played or recorded later than midnight. I support your suggested correction to the sequence of the selections.
I agree to what you say about session dates in general, it makes
sense, but if it means 1958 instead of 1959, I would think it makes a
bit of a difference.
Music America Loves Best
See DEMS 00/3-10/3
Are you sure that AFRS-MALB 47 is on a record? We don't find it in Valburn's listings in his Directory of Duke Ellington's Recordings (1986) on pages 2-7 where the sessions 1, 68 and 77 are documented.
Sorry - I don't know if anything from the 29Apr45 broadcast has been issued on "proper records", all I know is that AFRS issued an edited version of the network broadcast as a 16" transcription, MALB # 47, (masters SSR 5-1-3 and SSR 5-1-4).
Certain tunes from the broadcast may later on have been re-issued in AFRS "request programs" (YANK SWING SESSION and others) and the complete show, network or AFRS may also have been distributed as cassettes from Radio Yesteryear, Fair Pickings, Redmond Nostalgia Company, Media Bay and others.
If we have the information about the side and track positions of the Duke Ellington selections on this record, we shall include it in the next additions to the New DESOR.
I didn't know that this program was hard to locate. I don't have the actual AFRS transcription or a tape copy of it. I have only seen it listed in "Old Time Radio" type of catalogues. A cassette copy of it is for sale from THE REDMOND NOSTALGIA COMPANY, P. O. Box 82, Redmond, WA 98073-0082, USA. Order # is CO-2894, and it has MALB # 49 on the flip side.
My Italian friends do not need a copy on tape. They have it. They only need the information about the position of Duke's selections on the record (side and track number).
Is there anybody out there who can help?
See DEMS 00/4-15/2
Ivie married William Johnson, June 1, 1925 in
Los Angeles and divorced him in May 1928. They had no children and no
common property. Johnson was employed by a downtown department store.
This information is from a L.A. 1941 newspaper article sent to me by
Ivie´s 2nd husband was not Louis Bacon who played with Ellington from September 1933 – January 1934.
Derek Jewell, Barry Ulanov and the latest DEMS-Bulletin are wrong in this respect .
When Patricia Willard met Marques C. Neal in 1949/1950 he claimed that he was married to Ivie at the end of her life. They divorced in 1949. Patricia Willard cannot confirm that Ivie was married to John or Walter Collins before she married Mr Neal. To Patricia's knowledge there is no evidence of this marriage. Collins was not a musician.
Ivie Anderson´s recordings without Duke Ellington´s Orchestra
Göran Wallén wrote this article for the December 1997 Bulletin of the Duke Ellington Society of Sweden, with help from Steven Lasker, Los Angeles.
We are grateful for his permission to print it in DEMS Bulletin.
No recordings were made before Ivie joined Ellington.
The Gotham Stompers 25Mar37, New York
Cootie Williams tp, S Williams tb, Barney Bigard cl, Johnny Hodges alt, Harry Carney bar, Tommy Fulford p, Bernard Addison g, Billy Taylor b, Chick Webb dr,
Wayman Carver arr.
M301-1 My Honey´s Lovin´ Arms Variety VA 629 Tax m-8005
M301-2 My Honey´s Lovin´ Arms rejected
M302-1 Did Anyone Ever Tell You Variety VA 541 Tax m-8011
M302-2 Did Anyone Ever Tell You Merritt 25
M304-1 Where Are You ? Variety VA 541 Tax m-8011
M304-2 Where Are You ? rejected
M303-1 Alabamy Home Variety VA 626 Tax m-8005
or Alabamy Lane, only instrumental, wrong information.
M303-2 Alabamy Home rejected
"A Day at the Races"
MGM Studio Orchestra , Culver City, Jan/Feb37. Crinoline Singers (Eddie Jones leader).
All God´s Chillun´Got Rhythm Black Jack LP 3004
"Jubilee" 19Apr43, Hollywood
Unknown personnel maybe with Louis Armstrong and orchestra.
Unknown Title AFRS "Jubilee" programme 21 part 2.
Ceele Burke´s Orch. ca 1945, Hollywood
Unknown personnel, arranger Max Walter.
AMO 3113A Mexico Joe Excellent 3113 Exclusive 230
AMO 3114A Play Me the Blues Excellent 3114 Exclusive 230
(AMO 3113B When The Ships Come Sailing Home Again and
AMO 3114B Now Or Never have Ceele Burke as vocalist)
The Jubilee All Stars Oct45, Hollywood
He´s Tall, Dark and Handsome
Jam Session Blues
both selections ARFS "Jubilee" programme 152 part 1,
Swingtime ST1009, LP from Contact Records, Italy.
Ivie Anderson and her All Stars, Jan46, LA
Karl George tp, Willie Smith alt, Gene Porter tenor, Buddy Collette bar, Wilbert Baranco p & arranger, Buddy Harper g, Charlie Mingus b, Booker Hart dr.
BW 203 I Got It Bad Storyville 804 B&W 771
BW 204 On The Sunny Side of the Street Storyville 804 B&W 771
BW 205-1 You Ought To Know B&W 772
BW 206-3 The Voot Is Here To Stay B&W 772
Ivie Anderson & Phil Moore´s Orch. Oct46, LA
Phil Moore pianist and arranger. Personnel included Karl George tp, Lucky Thompson ten, Willie Smith alt, Irving Ashby g, Lee Young dr.
BW 481-4 He's Tall, Dark and Handsome Storyville 804 B&W 823
BW 482 Empty Bed Blues Storyville 804 B&W 824
BW 483-2 Twice Too Many Storyville 804 B&W 823
BW 484 Big Butter and Egg Man Storyville 804 B&W 824
Cee Pee Johnson, 1947 L.A.
Teddy Buckner, Gerald Wilson tp, Ralph Bledsoe tb, Arthur Dennis alt, Dexter Gordon ten, Warren Bracker p, Irving Ashby g, Red Callender b, Cee Pee Johnson dr.
Play me the blues KayDee LP-2, radioprogramme
Lush Life, played by Ellington?
See DEMS 00/4-14/3
Thanks very much for your information regarding Duke's high praise of Lush Life as expressed during his recital at the Whitney in 1972. It certainly helps to explain his apparent reluctance to play the piece and it does solve conclusively any questions concerning a possible lack of appreciation on his side.
In June, I gave as my opinion that Duke mimed his own pre-recorded accompaniment to Ella on account of some characteristic Ellingtonian chording. After carefully studying the whole show for several times with Ad Oud, a few weeks ago, Ad and I now think it plausible that Duke actually played during the shooting of the show, mainly because of the smooth transition between the end of his playing in Don't Get Around Much Anymore and the start of his playing in Lush Life. Of course, all this remains guessing, but ours is an 'educated guess' you might say. For the time being, we give Duke the benefit of the doubt.
Here is another Dukish statement about Lush Life:
Duke commented during the first part of the show "Ellington, We Love You Madly" (10/11Jan73) at the New Shubert Theatre in Los Angeles, although he only came on stage during the second part. When he introduced Roberta Flack's interpretation of Lush Life, he said: "From all the gorgeous Billy Strayhorn melodies, Lush Life has the greatest emotional impact on me. So much so, I cannot stand to be in the audience when it's performed. It just breaks me up completely."
Unidentified concert in early 1967
Could it be that the unidentified concert listed in the New DESOR in Feb/Mar 1967 (6733) is identical with the Stuttgart event on 6Mar67? It looks suspicious to me.
I cannot compare since I have no tape of 6733.
We have not been able to establish the correct date and location for this (DESOR 6733) session.
Johnny Come Lately is not the same as:
15Jan67, 2nd c., 1071e, 6705e;
22Jan67, 1st c., 6707b;
24Jan67, 1st c., 1075a, 6710b;
24Jan67, 2nd c., 1076a, 6711a;
25Jan67, 2nd c., 1078b, 6713b;
31Jan67, 2nd c., 1080b, 6717b;
5Feb67, 2nd c., 6720b;
10Feb67, 1083a, 6721a;
11Feb67, 2nd c., 6722b;
12Feb67, 2nd c., 6723a;
13Feb67, 1084a, 6723a;
22Feb67, 1st c., 1086a, 6727a;
24Feb67, 2nd c., 1089b, 6730b;
2Mar67, 1094i, 6735i;
6Mar67, 1095b, 6736b
Wild Onions is not the same as:
25Jan67, 1st c., 1077c, 6712c.
Up Jump is not the same as:
1Feb67, 2nd c., 1081a, 6718a;
22Feb67, 2nd c., 1087e, 6728e;
28Feb67, 1091b, 6732b.
The Shepherd is not the same as:
1Feb67, 2nd c., 1082a, 6718b;
24Feb67, 1st c., 1088e, 6729e;
10Mar67, 1097i, 6739i
It is true that the same sequence was found in the concert of 24Jan67. But also in the concert of 11Feb67, the sequence of the selections was identical. On 5Feb, 10Feb, 22Feb, 24Feb and 6Mar67, the sequence was almost identical. The sequence does not give enough indication on its own to make a guess at the date of these recordings. We have the impression that these recordings were made at the end of the European tour, because of the high speed at which they were performed and also because of the greater role played by Duke and Rufus Jones, in the introduction to Johnny Come Lately. We would guess end of February, early March and therefore we have put it as being during these two months.
Thank you for the cassette. I have listened and compared the content of session 6733 with what I have, and must concede that it is different. The problem is that the band played the same stuff over and over at these concert tours, and Duke cracks the same jokes. It is hard to tell the difference at times.
The best way to compare two recordings is to listen to both at the same time feeding the sound of each recording into one of two head-phones. I learned to do this from Klaus Stratemann. This method can give you 100% certainty if two recordings are different and it is as near to foolproof as it's possible to get if they are identical.
Duke's earliest recording
One interesting thing I found in the book "Spreadin' Rhythm Around" (David A. Jasen and Gene Jones, Schirmer Press, NYC): On page 187 reference is made to a Victor recording session set up by Maceo Pinkard for Duke Ellington in or around July 1923. None of the titles cut have been released. We know of only one title Home cut at the Victor Studios on 26Jul23. Were there more? Or was there another session we know nothing about? By the way, the book is highly recommended, although it deals mainly with Vaudeville and Tin Pan Alley and with black composers exclusively.
A second 1923 session is mentioned in several discographies: 18oct23 with two titles: Home and M.T.Pocket Blues. This is wrong.
Steven Lasker wrote in DEMS Bulletin 96/2-7 an article in which he stated that no recording of a piece called Home was made at Victor on any date in 1923/4 other than in the Snowden session of 26Jul23, and that M.T.Pocket Blues went unrecorded by anyone there. He concluded: "Will we ever hear Home? The Titanic's safe arrival in New York Harbor would shock me no less greatly."
Concerto "from" Cootie
About the melody for Concerto for Cootie — I've read several anecdotes (both in print and on the Duke-Lym list) about how Cootie's warm-up was the basis of the first theme for Concerto for Cootie. Is there any extant documentation of this — other recordings, oral histories, etc? I once heard Bill Dobbins play Cootie's warm-up (on piano) to demonstrate its similarity to the first Concerto for Cootie melody. Does anyone know how this particular fragment of Cootie's warm-up goes?
In the documentary "A Duke Named Ellington" Clark Terry mentioned the phrase Cootie played to warm up, that lead into Concerto For Cootie. He even hummed it.
I do not know if this documentary was telecast in two parts in your country. I give you the position of the segment of Clark's interview knowing that in some countries some parts of the documentary were skipped. It is the second Clark Terry fragment in part 2, which is 20:41 minutes from the start of part 2, or 1:16:56 from the start of part 1 if you watch part 2 immediately after part 1.
Hayes Alvis and/or Billy Taylor
Ellington used two bassists — Hayes Alvis and Billy Taylor — on his Feb 1936 recording of Echoes of Harlem.
Ellington divided the opening bass motive between the two players, but when the bass part moves to a 4/4 style, there seems to be only one bass part. How was this quasi-walking function handled? Was one player chosen to walk due to a superior sense of time, did Alvis and Taylor trade off playing the "walking" sections (seems unlikely on Echoes of Harlem) or did both bassists double on a written bass line?
My copy of the Feb 1936 Echoes of Harlem recording has a lot of hiss, and I'm having a hard time telling what is going on with the bassists in that part of the piece. Perhaps someone knows the general performance practice of the Ellington Orchestra when using a "walking" bass during the '35-'37 time frame that would provide a clue about this section of Echoes of Harlem.
Your question is highly interesting because it contains information that has not been documented in the Ellington discographies. Only one bass-player is credited for the recording of Echoes of Harlem on 27Feb36: Hayes Alvis.
I have listened to the recording and I wonder why Duke needed two bass-players. Can you mention the source of your information?
I'm a bit sceptical about two bassists being used on the opening of Echoes of Harlem.
Certainly I'm influenced by the fact of how (relatively) easy it would be for a more modern bassist to play all of it by himself. But I think also the use of some open strings would make it fairly easy for a 1930s bassist. And I just don't hear the way it sounds as coming from two separate basses.
You are correct Sjef that only Alvis is credited with the performance on this date, but I referred to Ellington's original score housed at the Smithsonian, and at the bottom of the second page, in Ellington's hand, the opening bass line is scored for two unidentified bass clef instruments. One instrument plays the notes occurring on the downbeats and the other instrument plays the notes occurring on the offbeats. As is the case with many of the Ellington scores
I have seen in the Archives, Ellington writes the introduction to Echoes of Harlem (this bass pattern) at the end of the score at the bottom of the page. It is of course quite possible that Ellington scored the bass motif in this manner and then changed his mind in the studio. The bass line is certainly playable by one bassist.
I have a few questions around Cootie Williams while he was with Benny Goodman and when running his own band. I hope you can help me with some answers.
1. When Cootie left Duke in November of 1940 it was done with Duke's blessing and Duke also assisted Cootie with negotiating the contract with Benny Goodman. Can this be confirmed?
2. Can somebody tell me what Cootie was earning when with Duke and what he got when switching to Benny Goodman ?
3. No doubt the money was better with Benny Goodman. Was the reason for switching to Benny Goodman simply a matter of money?
4. After the year with Benny Goodman, Cootie wanted to return to Duke but was turned down and instead encouraged by Duke to start his own band. Right or wrong?
Here is the story as I was told by Jimmy Maxwell and Cootie (at different times):
The summer of 1940 Concerto for Cootie came out and Jimmy Maxwell (1st trumpet for Benny Goodman) played it all day long everyday on his windup Victrola in the back of Goodman's band bus. Eventually Benny called him down front and asked him who the trumpet player was. Benny then called Cootie and offered him a job. I believe Cootie was making about $85 a week (perhaps Annie Kuebler could verify this) and Benny was offering $250.
Cootie went to Duke and told him about the offer expressing that he didn't want to leave, but what should he do? Duke's response was, "When opportunity knocks, far be it from me to stand in its way". Cootie was crushed and even 35 years later (when Cootie told me this story), he was still angry with Duke.
I asked Cootie if he liked playing with Benny after all those years with Duke. To my surprise he said he loved it. He said the rehearsals and performances were totally professional — starting on time, no nonsense. This was a constant frustration for him with Duke.
1. According to an oral history interview with Cootie, yes on both counts. And Ellington encouraged Williams to restrict his playing just for the small group stuff not the big band.
2. I think my source was the Afro-American but Cootie's new salary was $200.00 a week. The payroll records I used were not the exact same time but after Cootie left, Ivie, Rex, Lawrence and Johnny were making ca. $115 or $135 a week.
3. No. It had as much to do with Goodman being a white band leader therefore bringing Cootie more national recognition and exposure — which it did.
4. When he left, Cootie told Duke he'd be back in a year. At that time he called Duke and said, "The year's up. I'm ready for my job back." Duke told him, "Nah, you're too big now. Go ahead on. Time I need you, I'll let you know."
Again from the oral history.
Just another note, by the report I read. Benny's brother made the first offer to Cootie.
I'm not disagreeing with David's version. After all, he heard it from Cootie. Oral history interviews are funny things. The subject is certainly aware they are making a statement for the permanent record but it is hard to keep one's emotions at bay for a 7 or 8 hour interview stretched over several days. Helen Dance was the interviewer and she stated that it hurt Duke and the band when Cootie and later Johnny left. Cootie responded very lowly. No, it didn't hurt Duke. But she persists and doesn't catch on quick enough that Cootie is upset. After he repeats, no it didn't hurt Duke several times she realizes that she has implied Cootie hurt Duke personally rather than the band's sound. I can still hear it. He was upset. But people did and I'm sure will continue to make opposing statements in different contexts and harbor ambivalent feelings.
It's never too late to get back to talkin' about Cootie Williams. Previously you had inquired about Williams's management and my memory was just jogged because he had the same manager for a while as Mary Lou Williams. Moe Gale. I have often heard of Gale as "connected" and since Cootie said he gave him 50% of his income I suspect this is true. Cootie probably didn't need too much financial help from Duke or at least not for long. Cootie says he earned $250,000 in his first year largely due to his success with Things Ain't What They Used To Be and Cherry Red Blues. The following year he refused to give Gale 50% and his bookings dramatically dropped. He then went with the Ben Bart Agency. According to Cootie, when he was picking his band John Hammond did help him a little "in the way that he had" and also financially. Hammond sent Cootie to Texas to audition a tenor player whose wife wouldn't let him quit his day job but at that gig he discovered Eddie "Cleanhead! " Vinson. Vinson joined an incredible crew of modern players.
Cootie's was the house band at the Savoy for quite some time.
The only things I know about Baby Cox are the songs she sang with Duke.
I've never seen her bio in a reference work or on the Internet. I've never read that she recorded with anyone except Duke. I've never seen a picture. Is Baby Cox a total mystery or haven't I done my homework?
Does anyone know anything more?
She was fairly prominent on the entertainment scene from 1922 to about 1933, playing in many shows as a singer and dancer, including:
"Yaller Gal" 1924,
"Georgia Red Hots" 1924-26,
"Butterbeans and Susie" revue 1928,
"Leonard Harper's Revue" 1929,
"Runnin' Sam" 1933 but especially:
"(Connie's) Hot Chocolates" 1929, music by Waller and Razaf (Ain't Misbehavin', Black and Blue) and cast including Edith Wilson, Cab Calloway et al.
"Jazz Dance: The story of American Vernacular Dance" (by Marshall and
Jean Stearns) notes: "Singers Baby Cox and Edith Wilson starred in a
cast of some eighty five entertainers ... by mid-July, Louis Armstrong
and later Fats Waller, were playing during the intermission. ... Baby
Cox presented a snake hips dance that shook the Brooklyn Eagle reviewer:
'A dance which it is hoped will never get to be a ball room pastime' ".
(Don't you wish you were there?)
Her picture frequently appeared in contemporary media. The only one I have is a very poorly photocopied report from the Baltimore Afro-American of February 22nd 1930, showing "Baby Cox, in her Florence Mills pose", with the observation "Her interpretations of the late Little "Blackbird" are a revelation and have rendered her the logical successor to the late star's fame".
The fact is, there were so many multi-talented black entertainers around in those days that someone as good as Baby Cox is just lost in the crowd. Hope that helps.
DEMS Bulletin 2000/2-16 describes the following two CDs: Storyville STCD 8323 "Togo Brava Suite" and Storyville STCD 8324 Munich, Germany, 14Nov58.
I've had these on order with a dealer in England since June of last year and so far hasn't come up with these. Do you know if these have been released yet?
STCD 8323 "Togo Brava Suite" was released in EU and Japan in Jan01. It will be releases in U.S. 1May01.
STCD 8324 Munich Concert has no release date yet.
See DEMS 00/4-20/2.
Fargo is out now on Storyville STCD8316/17, with the sound considerably improved over the 1990 VJC CDs
It's been released in "selected" European countries and will "hit" the US stores in March.
I just spoke with Allegro, the US distributor of Storyville. The new edition of Fargo will be available in the US in April. TDES will not be selling it. We will be selling Volume 1 of the DETS with our March newsletter, if all goes well.
See DEMS 00/4-20/3.
I note that DETS 9039001 2CD set Duke Ellington Treasury Shows has been released in Denmark and will be released in the USA in January. Would you by any chance have an address in the USA where I could contact to purchase this set?
I've been informed that Allegro Distributors in Oregon have finally put the first DETS double CD in their latest catalogue of new releases. Karl explained to me that he could not supply anyone else in the US, such as WORLDS RECORDS, because of his exclusive deal with ALLEGRO.
The 2nd double is finally in the works. So we're moving along even if it is slowly.
If you are interested to buy this first DETS double CD, you can take advantage of the service supplied by TDES New York. The price for one set is $ 22.-. Shipping of the first set will cost you $ 2.50 in the USA and Canada and $ 4.50 for all other destinations. The shipping costs for an additional set are $ 1.00 for USA and Canada and $ 2.00 elsewhere. Jewel boxes will not be shipped with orders outside the continental United States.
If you live in the USA, you can send your order immediately to TDES in New York even if you are not a member of TDES. Include check or money order payable to TDES in $US payable through US bank with order to: TDES Inc., PO Box 31, Church Street Station, New York, NY 10008-0031, USA. Delivery 2-4 weeks.
If you live elsewhere and you do not want to order a copy from Storyville Records in Denmark, as indicated in the last Bulletin and you are reluctant to go to all the trouble of sending checks to TDES in the USA, we can help you if you wish. If you send us a message with your wants, we will make a list of your names and send this list on May15 to TDES. TDES will send you the CDs directly. We will charge your DEMS account and pay for you to TDES immediately after sending the list. To keep things under control, we are willing to do this only once. Orders coming in after May15 will not be transferred to TDES. If this works successfully we can repeat this procedure for other CDs in the series and determine how short the waiting period can be before we send the next time a list to TDES. We do not want you to wait too long for your DETS CDs.
Fifty years, more or less, have passed since I watched Duke, rather than sit around waiting for the rest of the band to arrive for a recording session, go to the piano, call out suggestions to whatever musicians had arrived, and within thirty minutes complete an apparently impromptu and thoroughly releasable record master, apparently out of thin air, regardless of the available instrumentation. That was one way that Duke composed. But it was probably not completely out of thin air. I'm sure it came out of Duke's method of composing, which included always having something ready in his magician's hat.
62 Years ago, after a concert at the New Haven Arena, as my classmate Jerry King and I were helping Duke's roadie pack up (was it the always cheerful, roly-poly Jack Boyd?), Duke suddenly re-appeared out of the darkened backstage.
He strolled briskly to the piano, and began playing softly - disconnected ramblings, never longer than two minutes with brief pauses in between.
This went on for half an hour, with Duke still paying no attention to us as we sat bug-eyed at the edge of the dimly lit platform. When he stopped, he looked up and winked.
I felt I should say something; all I could think of was, "Gee, Mr. Ellington, is that a new composition?" "Some of it might be," he said. "Do you have a title for it yet?" I asked. Duke smiled. "That will come later, but - " sensing why I had asked - "it will be so changed that no one will remember what I did just now."
I can't believe Duke would ever have composed in any media except his musicians, or at the piano, or (as I saw him do while riding the band bus) on any piece of paper on which he could jot down ideas. Even in the middle of a recording session, I have seen him reach into the side pocket of a beautifully tailored (no lapels) jacket, pull out some unmatched but carefully folded sheets of paper, and hand them to Strayhorn, saying "Let's talk about this at dinner tonight."
Incidentally, that was also the day that I learned how cool Duke could be. Jerry had reserved a large table in the Timothy Dwight College dining hall and invited Duke to bring some of the musicians for dinner between shows.
As we reached our table (about a dozen of us, including Carney, Hodges and Cootie Williams) a tall, imposing-looking student stood up at a table for four, threw his napkin down on the table, and loudly proclaimed, "I don't eat with N------rs!" whereupon he and his friends stalked out of the room.
Marshall Stearns, Jerry and I gaped in silent horror. Not one of the musicians reacted. Duke quietly said, "Gentlemen, let us enjoy our repast," sat down, and started an easy-flowing conversation which carried through our most enjoyable repast.
Duke and the FBI
David Stowe writes in his book "Swing Changes" (1994) that Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman were both members of the Musicians Committee for Spanish Democracy (Stowe 1994, 71). Stowe also writes: "in May 1938 [Ellington] was listed as an endorser of the first All-Harlem Youth Conference, and in July 1941 he appeared with part of his band at a barn dance for the Hollywood chapter of the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade....Later that year Ellington was a sponsor of a dinner given by the American Committee to Save Refugees, the Exiled Writers' Committee, and the United American Spanish Aid committee, all regarded by the FBI as suspect organizations." (Stowe 1994, 69-70)
A short and silent Ellington movie
A "new" film has been discovered by researcher Anthony L'Abbate. It was a one-reel short made in 1930 by Duke Ellington & his Orchestra.
The film is devoted to a tour of Harlem. The sound to the film has not yet turned up although many discs for Pathe Audio Reviews have been discovered. It is believed that copies of the film may exist amongst fervent collectors.
Details on Vitaphone Project on the Internet:
or just search Vitaphone and then go to Vitaphone project.
Flemming Sjölund Jensen
I came across a similar movie. I wonder if it is the same.
A photographer went around Harlem taking movies of the "head liners" performing in Harlem at that time in the 30s. He then made a reel to reel movie. I traced it down and it was put into a video. Just from memory, I think the number played by Duke was Mood Indigo. But Sjef should be able to tell you more because I passed this information on to Charles Ewing, which eventually should have ended up in Day By Day.
This is taken from the Vitaphone News, Volume 4, No.1 - winter/spring 1998, which was faxed to me by Jerry Valburn:
Unknown Ellington Short Documented.
Researcher Anthony L'Abbate has been copying every FILM DAILY reference to sound shorts from microfilm beginning in 1928. He's now up to 1932, and the reviews of released shorts and their casts are fascinating.
His most recent batch of copies includes reference to a Pathe Audio Review No. 1. This was a one-reel short devoted to a tour of Harlem which describes a "view of the famous Cotton Club with Duke Ellington and his band jazzing it up with red hot rhythm while the chorus line does some fancy stepping."
This film has never been previously documented by Ellington researchers, and may still exist among collectors.
The review was from the FILM DAILY of January 25, 1931, indicating the film itself was made in 1930.
Many discs for Pathe Audio Reviews have turned up, and we'll be asking the holders to play them to see if the Ellington performance is present.
Please contact the Project if you know anything about this important short!
This is taken from Klaus Stratemann's Day By Day - Film By Film, page 57:
When Cab Calloway was getting ready to go out on a Southern tour on March 11, 1933, Ellington took over for the conclusion of the 21st "Cotton Club Parade."
It is believed that a piece of Ellington footage included in a Blackwood Productions TV documentary on New York shown around the globe, and used in other similar productions such as ABC-TV's "Reminiscing With Duke" (1974, see also CBC-TV, Sept. 1964), was filmed at the Cotton Club during this Ellington residency.
Universal Newsreel Footage.
Exact data of these newsreel clips are not at hand.
The total running time is around one minute. A mixed chorus line of around twenty boys and girls is shown twice, and there are brief sideways glimpses of the Ellington band, with Johnny Hodges, Harry Carney, Sonny Greer, Cootie Williams, and Freddie Jenkins easily recognised.Ellington himself is shown in close-up at the piano.
It seems to me that the clip described by Klaus Stratemann is the same as the one described in Vitaphone News. I have looked in the most recent Vitaphone News, Volume 4, No. 2 but I did not find any further information, or any response to the previous article.
The unknown author of the article in Vitaphone News is wrong: this film has been previously documented by Ellington researchers. He is right: it still exists among collectors. In fact everybody who has a copy of one of the following documentaries is able to see this clip:
"DE & his famous Orchestra" by Russell Davies, 1983;
"A Duke named Ellington," by Terry Carter, 1988 and
"Reminiscing In Tempo," by Robert Levi, 1994.
They all contain at the beginning (during the first 20 minutes) snippets from what must be this film-short.
Klaus' description is very helpful. I do indeed see a mixed chorus of around twenty boys and girls (many more girls than boys!) and sideways glimpses of the band and Duke's close-up at the piano. I haven’t seen Harry Carney, but all the others as mentioned by Klaus are there.
I estimate that by putting together all the extracts in these three documentaries and omitting duplications, one ends up with more than two minutes of film.
Jane Vollmer should check her movie to see if the band as described here is clearly visible. If not, I do not believe that her film is from the same source.
The same images come back many times in these documentaries. We see in each documentary the barbershop on top of the fish-market. If the music was Mood Indigo, this was the choice of the producer of her film. It did not show up in the three documentaries I have checked and described.
In Amherst on 6Mar99, Annie Kuebler showed us during her presentation film fragments from the Cotton Club which gave me the impression that there is still more material than what has been used by the producers of the different documentaries. I have however not seen shots of Ellington or his men, which were "fresh" to me.
PS. My late friend's name is not Charles but Gordon Ewing.
Doin' The Crazy Walk
I was recently asked about an Ellington composition Doin' the Crazy Walk which I couldn't find in DESOR or any other Ellington book I looked into. It was recorded by Chris Barber; the composer credits also include Irving Mills. Does anybody know more about this title?
It is performed in "Blackberries of 1930". Music -DE / lyrics -Mills.
It is included in the listing of Duke's compositions in MIMM on page 495.
The Chris Barber version of this piece was recorded on 16Sep55 and can be found on his LP, "Echoes of Harlem" Dormouse DM8. It was also recorded by Keith Nichols and the Cotton Club Orchestra on the CD "Harlem's Arabian Nights" Stomp Off CD 1320 from 30Sep and 1-3oct96. In both cases, the composer credits only Duke Ellington.