DUKE ELLINGTON MUSIC SOCIETY
02/3 December 2002 - March 2003
FOUNDER: BENNY AASLAND
Voort 18b, Meerle, Belgium
Telephone: +32 3 315 75 83
Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw wrestled with the insuperable problems of employing black musicians in a white band when, at the end of the Thirties, they hired Billie Holiday, Roy Eldridge, Lionel Hampton and Teddy Wilson.
Duke Ellington was later to be the first to take on the similarly fraught reverse problem by bringing first Louie Bellson and then Bill Berry into his otherwise black band.
So it was no surprise when the cosmopolitan Berry employed ex-Ellington, Count Basie, Woody Herman and Stan Kenton soloists when he came to form his own big bands.
There is a powerful posse of great cornet players stretching back to Bix Beiderbecke in the Twenties. The others included Bobby Hackett, Ray Nance and Ruby Braff. "Stretching" is the right word, for they were all men of small physical stature, who took advantage of the cornet's shorter length when compared with the trumpet.
Berry's rugged touring career with some of the most demanding of the big bands gave him an accomplished technique on the instrument. Coupled to his imaginative improvisations this made him well regarded amongst brass players and he ranked highly in the styles of both Swing and Bebop. While Braff, Nance and Hackett, like Berry, played Mainstream, Berry was one of the few to use the instrument also as a Bebop player.
He claimed to have drawn his style from elements in those of all the leading trumpet players from Bunny Berigan to Miles Davis. It was perhaps because he took so little from each that his own playing sounded so fresh and original.
Berry's father was a bass player in a touring dance band and Bill was born in Benton Harbour simply because that was where the band was working that week. It was the beginning of a life spent largely on the road. Given his first trumpet when he was 15 and the family was based in Cincinnati, he was soon good enough to join in 1947 the 'territory' band led by Don Strickland, which toured continuously throughout the mid-West.
"All the bands had sleeper buses because they didn't pay enough to afford hotels. We used to check in once a week on Mondays, just to take a bath."
When the Korean War began in 1950 Berry volunteered for the US Army so that he could enlist in a service band. After his discharge four years later he enrolled at a Cincinnati music college, but soon transferred to Boston's Berklee College where he studied under Herb Pomeroy, a trumpet player who also led the college big band. Berry was a voracious student and in 1957 progressed to his first "name" band, that of Woody Herman. More endless touring followed, with Berry's favourite trombonist Bill Harris with him in the brass section for much of the time.
Berry's ambition was to break into the New York scene and eventually he joined Maynard Ferguson's Band in 1960 because Ferguson spent six months of each year playing there. This gave him the opportunity to play with other bands in the city and his reputation grew.
On a Saturday afternoon in 1961 he went to see the Duke Ellington band at Harlem's Apollo Theatre. After the show Berry was taken to Ellington's dressing room and introduced to him.
"There were about a hundred people there, but I was gassed to be in the same room as Ellington." As he left, Berry was grabbed by the arm by someone who turned out to be Ellington's manager. He asked if Berry would leave on tour with the band. "Yeah," said Berry, "I'll leave town with you. How much money?" The question was never answered but Berry joined anyway.
"My time with Ellington changed my life in every respect, not only musically but socially, philosophically, everything. One of the reasons was that while the guys in Woody's and Maynard's bands were about the same age as me, these guys were 20 years older. They were 20 years older and 20 years hipper. Johnny Hodges, Paul Gonsalves, everybody took me under their wings and showed me how to live. It was marvellous."
Berry became the "modern" trumpet soloist with the band and can be seen to good effect in the film Duke Ellington And His Orchestra (1962). He played on innumerable Ellington recordings during the period.
Finally leaving Ellington in 1964 Berry returned to New York and work in the studios. He played in the band for The Merv Griffin Show on television and ghosted the trumpet playing for Frank Sinatra in the 1966 film A Man Called Adam. Studio work left him lots of free time during the evening and he became a founder member of the highly regarded Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, working with it from 1966 to 1968. Two years later Berry drew on his own vast experience to form the New York Big Band, which included colleagues from his Ellington and Herman days and some of the cream of New York's finest jazz musicians. But his leadership was short lived because, when The Merv Griffin Show moved from New York to Los Angeles that year, Berry and many of the musicians went with it. It was little trouble to reform as Bill Berry And The L.A. Big Band and the leader found he had an even greater bank of jazz musicians from which to draw. Virtually every member of the band was a star jazz soloist, and Berry's natural gravitation towards Ellington music was immeasurably helped by the presence of fellow Ellingtonians Cat Anderson, Buster Cooper and Britt Woodman at the corners of his brass section. His trumpets also included Jack Sheldon, Conte Candoli and Blue Mitchell and all that was just the tip of the iceberg as the finest musicians on the West Coast queued to join the band.
In what was to become a remarkably full life, Berry now began to tour abroad and, with the help of his wife Betty, began to organise workshops for young musicians and eventually in 1991 the celebrated International Jazz Party, an annual Los Angeles festival that featured musicians from across the world.
Berry toured Britain as a member of the Louie Bellson Big Band in 1980 and made several visits here where he worked with British musicians, a notable success being in a front line partnership with the Scots tenor player Jimmy Thomson.
Berry became a major name in Japan where he had toured with Benny Carter in the Eighties and Nineties and toured there often with the Monterey Jazz Festival High school All Stars, a group he had worked with since 1981 when he had been appointed musical director of the festival. Steve Voce
William Richard "Bill" Berry, cornettist, band leader and music educator: born 14 September 1930; married (one son); died Los Angeles 13 October 2002.
This obituary was published in the London Independent of 14oct02.
Jazz photographer and used record dealer Ray Avery passed away on Sunday evening (17Nov) said Charles Stewart president of the Southern California Duke Ellington Society. The cause was a heart attack.
Ray had taken many world class photos which can be seen in photo galleries and gracing many LP and CD covers.
Ray was the long-time owner and operator of "Rare Records" in Glendale, California.
Steven Lasker, Bob Ringwald, and I among other avid jazz collectors obtained many hard- to-find recordings from Ray who offered reasonable prices to all shoppers.
In recent years, his record booth could be found at all the local jazz festivals. His quiet, gentle nature will be missed by all who knew him.
25oct02. As you may know, 77-year-old Tenor Titan and Ellington alumnus Harold Ashby had heart trouble in Kansas City, Missouri, on September 16, following a concert with the Duke's Men at the Folly Theater there.
27oct02. Harold is already out of the hospital, and in a longer term care center now, Timberlake in Kansas City. It is possible that he will still be there in December.
30oct02. Harold is showing noticeable improvement, and may now start working on his physical therapy this is where he needs encouragement. He is communicating better as well.
16Nov02. Harold Ashby continues to improve.
He has begun the physical therapy to walk again. He's now able to walk short distances using hand rails and a walker.
According to both Harold and his family, cards do lift his spirits. Apparently for some weeks to come, he can receive mail at the following address:
HAROLD ASHBY, Timberlake Care Center
12110 Holmes Road, Room 215
Kansas City, MO 64145-1707
We were not aware of the fact that not only did the Jazz Journalists Association reward George Avakian, but that Clark Terry also received the Association's Lifetime Achievement Award. We would certainly have included this good news (source Toronto's Newsletter Sep02) in the message in DEMS 02/2-2.
DEMS members will certainly welcome this good news with great pleasure and full endorsement.
We found in the October 2002 Bulletin of the Duke Ellington Society of Sweden the exciting news that DESS has started planning an Ellington Conference in 2004. The provisional date is May 13-14-15. The Conference will take place in Stockholm and the Centre will be the famous jazz temple "NALEN" at Regeringsgatan 74, which seats about 500 delegates.
The planning is at a preliminary stage but details about planned programs, speakers, concerts, accommodation possibilities etc, will be published in the DESS Bulletins continuously the definitive conference program is expected to appear early autumn 2003.
DESS believes that the conferences have to continue, but maybe in other forms than before. In the next DESS Bulletin we will find more about how the work progresses.
Everybody who has something to say in words or in music is welcome to contact
Skogstorpsvägen 39, 191 39 Sollentuna, Sweden. Telefon/fax 08-965234. E-mail
As you did not express any interest in releasing the complete Mar37 Cotton Club broadcast on Azure 1, I have now decided to do a Special Edition CD, offered only to the members of DEMS. It is a properly pressed CD; thus, no cheap CD-R and the "mechanical copyrights" are taken care of in the usual way. The CD will be delivered in a plain cover and there will only be one press run.
In addition to the 1937 broadcast (30 minutes, restored the best way we could with those damaged acetates) I will include the Apr39 Swedish broadcast 2, this time running at the correct speed, corrected pitch by soundman Björn Almstedt. And as "bonus material": the surviving parts of the Dec38 Martin Block WNEW broadcast 3. The complete playing time will be a total of 60+ minutes.
The price of the CD (including airmail postage) should be around USD $ 12 - $ 15, but the final price will be determined by the level of interest shown by the DEMS members. I would like all prospective purchasers to get in touch with me, via e-mail or snail-mail 4, and place a non- committing advance order. Each member may order a total of 3 copies of the CD. Within 4 months after the publication date of this DEMS Bulletin (29Nov02), the members will get a message from me, via e-mail only, when the record is ready for shipping, the actual price and how to send payment.
1 It is standard DEMS policy not to release material that has been made available by others. With the exception of the opening theme, East St. Louis Toodle-O, the whole 18Mar37 broadcast has been released; six selections were on LP Collector's Classics 16 and the other two were on LP Black Jack 3004. Some selections, like Harlem Speaks, have been released on numerous CDs in the meantime; others, like Mexicali Rose, have not yet been released on CD, not even on Classics or Neatwork (see 02/2-24/3). This would be the first CD on which the whole broadcast is available.
2 The 29Apr39 Stockholm broadcast was released on LP Max 1001 and on CD Caprice Records CAP 21452.
3 The 21Dec38 broadcast has not been issued. Not one of the three selections is complete on our tapes.
4 Snail-mail P.O.Box 23061, SE-750 23, Uppsala, Sweden.
I call this an important message because I want you to read it. I have promised more than once to continue with the publication of DEMS Bulletin as long as I could. It seems now that this moment is not far away anymore. I have taken the (difficult) decision to discontinue printing and mailing DEMS Bulletins at the end of next year (2003). That means that there will be another set of three Bulletins in 2003. With the last Bulletin, 03/3, a total of 100 DEMS Bulletins will have been published during 25 years with a total of approximately 1500 pages. Benny Aasland took care of 72 Bulletins, I did the rest. I will be 75 years old next year, which means that I am just young enough to be eligible for acceptance in an elderly home.
When Benny Aasland started the Bulletin in 1979, he could not have dreamed that there
would still be Ellington related matters to be discussed 25 years later. It still does not seem that
we have finished. So it will be wonderful if we can continue our discussions in 2004 in some
way or another. Peter MacHare, who has published the latest printed Bulletins on his web-site
What should you do if you have no access to Internet? Well consider buying a computer and joining us. It is very much easier than in the early days. You could at the same time join the Duke-LYM list and take part in the daily discussions of this group, created by our own Andrew Homzy 1. You can also acquire the recently released Tom Lord discography on CD ROM as suggested by DEMS member Steve Voce in Jazz Journal of Nov02, p13 2.
There will certainly be quite a group of elderly DEMS members who do not feel the urge to do all that, but they must be able to find someone among family or friends, who is willing to print a few times a year the contents of DEMS Bulletin for them on paper. If their search is unsuccessful I could try to find a co-member who is willing to help.
So this is what I shall do. I will send an e-mail to all the DEMS members whose e-mail address I know. I will ask them to send me their telephone numbers. If you have access to Internet but you have not received my request before you receive this Bulletin, please contact me now and give me your phone-number.
I trust that all DEMS members with access to Internet will be so kind as to send me their telephone number and that all the DEMS members without access to Internet will try to find a solution for themselves. If you cannot find anybody who is willing to help you, you should contact me and I will send you a list of co-members who live in your neighbourhood and who are willing to print and send the Bulletins. It seems to be appropriate that you send your supplier some money for the expenses. It will undoubtedly be very advantageous compared to the donations I have asked you to make for the printed Bulletins 3.
With your help, I hope to be able to continue the contact among DEMS members for the years to come in order to take part in and enjoy the discussions about our favourite subject: Ellington and his wonderful music.
1 You can do that by sending an e-mail to
2 See p15/1 of this Bulletin.
3 See p32 of this Bulletin.
The following letter was addressed (on 13Nov) to each DEMS member from whom I know that he or she has an e-mail address. The day after I mailed it, I received already a great number of positive reactions. Some of the Internet DEMS members must have changed their e-mail address in the meantime, some of my messages bounced back. If you have access to Internet and you did not receive the following message, I hope you will join the group of volunteers and send me a message .
Dear DEMS member,
I send you a preview of an important message to be published in the next (December) DEMS Bulletin. If you read it, it will be clear to you, what I want.
I ask you to send me your home-telephone number if you are willing to help one or a few DEMS members who have no access to Internet, direct or via friends or family, to receive a printed copy of the DEMS Bulletins in 2004 and later.
I have the e-mail addresses of half of the DEMS membership plus 2. There may be a few more of you for whom I do not have an e-mail address yet. If in the worst case we would have to take care of all the Internet-less DEMS members, the problem would already be solved if each of you would volunteer to adopt only one of them. It would be great if we wouldn't have to break the contact with any of the DEMS members.
See DEMS 02/2-7/1.
In the middle of the left column: 6851e: Latin American Sunshine . see page 26 (Page 511) of this Bulletin instead of (Page 245). Lance Travis
See DEMS 02/2-25/1.
A confusion mistake in the paragraph just before the last one. Tenderly is on track 4, not on track 5. SH
See DEMS 02/2-28. DESOR small corrections, 1450 (02/1-71) should read (02/1-7/1). Roger Boyes
NOTE: These typing errors have been corrected in past online issues - Peter MacHare (jun 2003).
10Dec37, Huff Gymnasium, University of Illinois, Champaign, Illinois. Junior Prom.
"Leaving the rather frigid weather prevailing over the countryside, a near capacity crowd of dancers and onlookers thronged into the George Huff Gymnasium on the night of December 10 seeking the warmth of the torrid music of Duke Ellington and his orchestra, playing for the chief social event of the first semester, the Junior Prom.
"Ellington was forced to play without the services of his well known dancing troupe and also his featured vocalist, Ivie Anderson, who was absented because of illness.
"The prom this year not only attracted the formally inclined dancing couples, but for the first time in many years the balcony was completely packed with towns-people and non-dancing students.
"Shortly after eleven o'clock the orchestra changed from swing tempo to march time and the Grand march began
"Ellington, leading a band of dusky swingers, gave the campus a superb mixture of the 'sweet and slow' and the 'hot and high.'" ("Illio" 1938 yearbook, pp 259-60)
28Sep39, Graystone Ballroom, Detroit, Michigan.
"1800 Attend Ellington's Louis Ball.
"Two masters met Monday evening at the beautiful Graystone Ballroom? Duke Ellington, master of swing syncopation, kingpin of sweet soothing melodies and grand master of musical interpretations found a small crowd of 1800 when he came to play for master Joe Louis' victory party.
"A few years ago, the sweet strains of Ellington music was so well-liked by city dance-goers that they all went en masse and aided him in setting an attendance record at the Graystone. His record which has been threatened many times but never broken, still stands at the high mark of 7500.
"The Ellington dance and Louis victory ball perhaps didn't appeal to many of the dance and mirth-makers of Motor City because they had not rested after dashing hither and yon after Louis floored Bob Pastor. Nevertheless the small gathering had a grand time.
"Even Champion Joe Louis seemed to be enjoying the dance as much as his admirers, as the Duke got the Bomber to come up and say a few words to his audience. While upon the bandstand, Joe, well fashioned out in a blue chalk-striped suit together with Ivie Anderson led out with his favorite song, something about Hip, Hep the Jumpin' Jive. And the over 1800 dancers and non-dancers went wild.
"There was a mad scramble and a mad rush for the champ by the dancers in an effort to secure autographs as he left the bandstand; and for the first time in a long time Louis seemed to like it.
"The current hits played in an Ellington manner had music lovers' ears listening harder and enjoying more than ever the music of a band who played the tunes in harmony with the soul of one man.
"The Duke rode in all his melodious finery as he played song after song, products with his own hand and from the hand of other great songwriters in a manner that kept all the feet in the building moving."
(Michigan Chronicle, 7oct39, p4)
[Note that the review says "Monday" although 28Sep39 was a Thursday. I hope to clarify this date with further research. Ken Steiner]
2oct39, The listing of Duke Ellington and his orchestra in a 1oct39 New York Times ad for ASCAP's second concert of American music at Carnegie Hall, a "program of music by Negro composers" on 2oct39, was almost certainly unfulfilled. Stratemann cites the 3oct39 NYT review of the concert, which lists four bands in the swing section of the concert: Cab Calloway, Noble Sissle, Louis Armstrong, and Claude Hopkins. Carnegie Hall's program for the evening listed "guest bands including those of" these same four.
(Carnegie Hall Program, 2oct39)
13oct39, University of Indiana, Bloomington, Indiana.
"Duke Ellington Calls Swing 'Emotional Bounce of Jazz.'
"Dressed like a typical college 'joe,' Duke Ellington said last night at the Union - A.W.S. dance in Alumni hall that swing is but the 'emotional bounce of jazz.'
"The Duke, wearing a tan cardigan jacket with a green polo shirt and tan slacks plus brown and white shoes, explained, 'I do my composing when the mood strikes me, which might be anytime or anywhere; however, since I have a great deal of leisure time while in transit by rail, naturally a great deal of my composing is done on a train.'
"I'm Checkin' Out, Goom Bye, The Sergeant Was Shy, and Grievin' are his most recent compositions. In fact, 'I like Grievin' so well that I am going to rewrite it,' said Ellington.
"Duke is using four saxophones, three trumpets, three trombones, and three rhythm pieces consisting of the piano, drums, guitar and bass in his orchestra at present. This unusual amount of brass is used so that he can produce realistic interpretations of the Negro and jungle music he composes.
"'Yes, I am very much married and have a 20-year-old son who is leading his own orchestra,' said Ellington. His son, Mercer, had played for many Harlem organizations in his own circle. Duke believes that his son is more likely to become a great mathematician than to follow in his father's footsteps.
"Ellington considers Hoagy Carmichael, '23, a genius, and because he is a genius, Duke expressed the belief that did not see how Hoagy could fit into the factory-productions methods of Hollywood.
"Ellington and his orchestra packed their instruments and were on their way to Chicago within 20 minutes after the dance was over to make three recordings and play for the Chicago Junior League Charity ball."
(Indiana Daily Student, 14oct39, p1)
20oct39 to 2Nov39, Coronado Hotel, St. Louis, Missouri. According to daily advertisements in St.Louis Globe-Democrat, the gig ran through 2Nov39.
(The Blackstone Hotel engagement suggested for 2Nov through the following week could not have begun until 3Nov39.)
Live radio broadcasts were twice every night at 7:30 pm and 11:15 pm on KXOK.
The band also broadcast on KMOX, St. Louis' CBS station, at 11:30 pm on 31oct and 2Nov, and possibly other nights.
The African-American weekly, The St. Louis Argus, reported the following after-hours events, shedding new light on the questions of who discovered Blanton, and when did Blanton start playing with the Orchestra.
20oct39, Club 49. An ad read that "the home of all celebrities will entertain Duke Ellington and his entire band with Herbert Jeffries, Music by Fate Marable's Band." (St. Louis Argus, 20oct39, p12)
"Duke Ellington has been frequenting Club 49 these nites in town We wonder if the maestro is planning to add Jimmy Blanton, bass fiddler with Fate Marable's band, to his aggregation." (St. Louis Argus, 27oct39, p7)
Recollections written more than 30 years later of the discovery of Blanton are contradictory.
Duke recalled in MIMM (p164) that "After the (Coronado) gig one night, the cats in the band landed in a hot spot on the second floor of Jesse Johnson's restaurant (likely the Deluxe Cafe)...where they heard and jammed with (Blanton)," adding that Strayhorn and Ben Webster (who wasn't in the band at the time) came to Duke's hotel room to get him to come hear the young bassist.
Mercer Ellington in "Duke Ellington in Person" (p85) says Wendell Marshall told him that Johnny Hodges first heard Blanton, then Strayhorn, and the two of them went to get Duke.
Sonny Greer takes the credit in a 1979 interview with Stanley Crouch, quoted in Stuart Nicholson's "Reminiscing in Tempo" (p214), that on an off-night before opening at the Coronado, he was the one who first saw Blanton and went to get Duke.
"Mrs. Valeska Morrow, who entertained Miss Anderson, Duke Ellington and his band at the Ring Tavern Sunday night after the band's engagement at the Coronado Hotel. Shortly before the closing of the tavern, Mr. Ellington ordered a drink for the house, which caused the bartenders to work one half hour overtime before sending everyone home in their praises for Mr. Ellington."
(St. Louis Argus, 3Nov39, p5)
4Nov39, University of Illinois, Champaign, Illinois. Homecoming dance. "Duke Ellington will introduce his 'conversation' music on the University campus at 9 p.m. today in Huff Gym where he will appear at the annual Student-Alumni association Homecoming dance. The dance, which is in honor of homecoming alumni, will be attended by 1100 couples, according to reports on advance ticket sales." (Daily Illini, 4Nov39, p1)
"Duke Ellington featured I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart, a number which he said he played for the first time here two years ago Harry Grusin '40 did not like the hot music guess that his date required a sweet and dreamy background big hit of the homecoming dance was Ivie Anderson, swing songstress, and how she could swing it and shake a wicked leg on Jumpin' Jive and St. Louis Blues." (The Independent, 11Nov39)
15Nov39, Roseland Ballroom, Kansas City, Missouri. "Duke Ellington and his boys were never so good as they were Wednesday night, November 15, according to fans who heard them at the Roseland Ballroom. A St. Louis promoter sponsored the dance here."
(Pittsburgh Courier, 25Nov39, p23) The promoter would likely have been Jesse Johnson, who promoted another black dance in his home town the following evening.
16Nov39, Castle Ballroom, St. Louis, Missouri. "At last the Mound City will have its long-awaited opportunity to see and hear the inimitable Duke Ellington, pianist-composer, and his band in an appearance at the Castle Ballroom Thursday, Nov. 16 in honor of the State Teachers' Convention." (St. Louis Argus, 3Nov39, p7 with ad)
"The Duke played an engagement at a white nite spot here recently and Jesse J. Johnson, promoter, has secured this top ranking aggregation to play for those who have so long awaited an opportunity to hear the Duke and his boys with Ivie Anderson, the California songbird and Herbert Jeffries, movie cowboy, as vocalists." (St. Louis Argus, 10Nov39, p7 with ad)
24Nov39, "Young Man With a Band" broadcast.
The Afro-American (2Dec39, p14) describes the beginning portion of the program, which is missing from the surviving aircheck: "The life of Duke Ellington was depicted as the feature of the 'Young Man with a Band' program, which was broadcast from (Chicago) with a national hookup last week.
In the program, Duke, playing the role of himself, did the first piece he remembered composing, an improvisation of some music his mother played to amuse him when he was ill. Then he played his first written composition, The Poodle Dog Blues, composed in the days when he served as a soda-jerker and pianist at The Yellow Dog, a Washington, D.C., ice cream parlor."
"Young Man With a Band" originated from WBBM in Chicago and was heard at 9:30 pm CST Saturday nights, and was broadcast coast-to-coast over the CBS network.
25 and 26Nov39, Palace Theater, Peoria, Illinois.
4 stage shows at 2:30, 5:00, 7:25, 9:55. (Ads in Peoria Journal-Transcript, 24 and 25Nov39)
3Dec39, Sunset Terrace Club, Indianapolis, Indiana.
"The Duke will not play an ofay dancery as reported in the daily [white] press. The Sunset Terrace Club , through its president, Denver D. Ferguson, stated to the Indianapolis Recorder that it was erroneously stated in one of the local papers [possibly the Indianapolis Star ad of 26Nov39 listed in the Joe Igo Itinerary] that Duke Ellington would play a dance engagement at the Indiana Roof Sunday night. The Duke and his orchestra will positively play a dance engagement at the Sunset Terrace Sunday night, December 3. This is a guaranteed appearance, and dance-lovers throughout all Hoosierdom are expected to be on hand to give the great "Duke of Ellington" a rousing welcome. In a message sent direct to the Indianapolis Recorder, the Duke said, 'I'm extremely glad to have the opportunity to play another dance engagement for the hundreds of dance-lovers in Naptown, and you can depend on me for an evening of real rollickin' rhythm. So tell my friends that I'll be seeing them down at Denver Ferguson's Sunset Terrace." (Indianapolis Recorder, 2Dec39, p12)
"Duke's dance proved very very nice and entertaining and for one time the public really stood up and took notice of the King's music when speaking of Duke as the King of Jazz it might well be said that he has master musicians too Jimmie Blanton really played the bass fiddle and was featured before the mike on that unforgettable Sophisticated Lady it was really unique and fascinating and spine-chilling the bass, Duke on the ivories and Sonny Greer on the skins I was sent to heaven we can well remember (at least I can always tell) Duke's records or broadcasts by that smooth undercurrent of the bass Billy Taylor is the other plucker for an encore Jimmie featured his fiddle on Liza that favorite among musicians and Blue Moon it would be well to mention the reed section the finess of tone the soft melodious harmony featuring Johnny Hodges eminent sax player and did they play Blue Moon my my such sweet smooth tempo with the reeds in a fast and quick tempo in the last chorus and of course there was Ivie singing in her own fascinating style with the personality and the same deep husky tone qualities of her voice still ever clear and sweet as ever It Don't Mean a Thing for an encore I'm Satisfied as only Ivie can sing it Solitude and St. Louis Blues Ivie was so busy autographing she had to take time while singing and autograph such a lady it was nice seeing Herbert Jeffries 'Two Gun Man from Harlem' singing My Last Goodbye with Johnny Hodges on the sax " (Indianapolis Recorder, 9Dec39, p12)
17Dec39, Pantheon Theater, Vincennes, Indiana. "Continuous show today" with a movie. (Vincennes Sun-Commercial, 17Dec39 p2)
25Dec39, Union City High School Gym, Union City, Tennessee. Christmas Ball, 9 pm to 1 am. (Union City Messenger, 17Dec39). Thanks to Betty Burdick Wood, who attended the dance; historian R.C. Forrester of Union City; and Virginia Nailling of San Antonio, Texas, who is writing the full story of the Union City gig and knew of the Vincennes and Sikeston gigs.
26Dec39, New Sikeston Armory, Sikeston, Missouri. 10 pm to 2 am. "Ellington Packs Armory - 1200 Dancers Brave Snowstorm for Music of Famous Orchestra.
"In weather that would daunt an Eskimo, couples came from miles around on snow-covered highways Tuesday to jam the armory and dance to Duke Ellington and his band, which rendered the brand of music that has made the orchestra famous in this country and abroad." (Sikeston Standard, 29Dec39, p1)
31Dec39, "Meet the Band" broadcast: "A New Year's preview will swing out over the airlanes on Sunday, Dec. 31, when WBBM listeners hear Duke Ellington and his orchestra in a special arrangement of Ring dem Bells 1.
"The Duke and his music will be honored guests of the Dodge Dealers of Chicago on the weekly 'Meet the Band' program heard over WBBM every Sunday from 12:30 to 1 p.m. CST [and was broadcast coast-to-coast over the CBS network]. Currently featured at Chicago's popular Marigold Gardens, the Duke of Swing will introduce again over the air his songstress, Ivie Anderson." (Chicago Defender, 30Dec39)
This reference is consistent with Steven Lasker's citation from "Tempo" (25Dec39, p6 from DEMS 02/2-21) that Ellington played Marigold Gardens on New Year's Eve. Stratemann and Vail both list Ellington at the Hotel Sherman's Panther Room (Stratemann citing the earlier 6Dec39 Billboard and 9Dec39 Variety). However, the 29Dec39 ad in the Chicago Daily Tribune has Fats Waller billed for the Panther Room for New Year's Eve.
4Jan40, Butler Theater, Butler, Pennsylvania. Shows at 2:00, 4:15, 7:00, and 9:15 with a movie. (ads in Butler Eagle, 2Jan40 and 3Jan40.)
5Jan40, Strand Theater, Cumberland, Maryland. Shows at 2:19, 4:24, 7:01, and 9:13 with a movie. (ads in Cumberland Evening Times 1-5Jan40.) These last two gigs were reported in the 20Jan40 Afro-American, p14: "Sang in Ivie's Place: Wilhelmina Gray (pictured), of Pittsburgh, who sang with Duke Ellington's orchestra in engagements at Butler and Cumberland, Md., substituting for Ivie Anderson, who was ill. Ms. Gray was formerly singer-hostess at the Sky Rocket Bar Grill in Homestead, Pa, and also sang at Pittsburgh's Harlem Casino and Fullerton Inn." Ken Steiner
1 I suggest that the aircheck of Cootie Williams' vocal on Ring dem Bells considered to be "Panther Room Sep/Oct 1940 unidentified date" may indeed be the "special New Year's arrangement" for "Meet the Band."
The reason nailing Ring dem Bells for this date is that the tune does not appear on a single one of the monitored NBC "coast to coast" broadcasts from the Panther Room of the Fall 1940 gig. It is highly unlikely that the Duke only would play this outstanding "production number" just a single time during the Panther Room gig, during one of his very last broadcasts from the venue.
Please note that the location of Chicago always has been attributed to this Ring dem Bells aircheck. A faint scribbling of "31/12" could easily be interpreted as "3/10" and, as the content of the "Meet the Band" broadcast was not known to discographers at the time 2, it was quite natural for them to assign this single item to the well-known Panther Room gig one year later.
Another title considered to be from the same 3oct40 broad-cast is In a Mellow Tone. It is not linked to Ring dem Bells and listening to these two titles a while back I made the following note in my drafts: "not from the same broadcast".
2 The old Desor (1967): 3oct40; Timner (1976): 5oct40, (1979, 1988 and 1996): 3oct40; Benny Aasland (Waxworks 6Mar40-30Jul42, 1978): 3oct40; The New DESOR (1999): 3oct40.
This recording of Ring dem Bells was released on the LPs Queen Disc Q-007 and Jazz Supreme 705.
Various dates, 1934 - 35. The gig at the Orpheum Theatre in Utah was in Ogden on 5Jun34, see an ad on p18 of the Ogden Standard Examiner of 5Jun34. The Atlanta gig on 31Jul34 is confirmed in the Atlanta World. The 27Jan35 appearance at the New Danceland Ballroom, Cleveland, Ohio may be wrong. Duke played on 27Jan35 the Shubert Theatre in Cincinnati Ohio, according to Billboard, 26Jan35, p34.
14Jun36, Duke played at the Olentangy Park in Columbus, Ohio according to an ad in the Columbus Star of 14Jun36. Maybe he did two gigs on one day?
20 & 31Dec39, Gordon Ewing made this note: "Query- Tempo 25 Dec 39, p6, had the following entry: 'Duke Ellington has been around Midwest with Chicago dates 20th (Eden Club) and 31st (Marigold Gardens)'. There was a Marigold Ballroom but Eden Club is a mystery?" Gordon has Duke playing a New Years Eve dance at the Sherman Hotel on 31Dec39 according to Variety of 6Dec39, p40. (This is rather early to be very reliable.)
2May40, Duke played at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles according to Billboard 13Apr40, p23. Maybe again two gigs on one day?
26Jul to 1Aug40, Gordon Ewing made this note: "31Jul- Query- Check Billboard 17Aug40, p8, for Atlanta GA gig which stated that this was a 'colored dance with the largest crowd in the city's history at a colored dance?' 7,000 attended including 1,000 white spectators. The record 'Everybodys 3005' includes two selections from a broadcast from the Eastwood Gardens Detroit on the 31st." On 1 Aug40 Gordon has Duke at the New York World's Fair according to the Chicago Defender of 3Aug40, p11. He made this note: "1Aug- The presentation at the New York World's Fair included a jam session with Charlie Barnet." What is the date of the Detroit News?
I found a program of Duke's fourth annual concert at the Symphony Hall in Boston on Sunday evening 13Jan46 at 8:30 P.M.
The program is almost identical with the programs we know from the recorded concerts at Carnegie Hall of 4Jan46 and at the Civic Opera House in Chicago on 20Jan46.
Caravan; In a Mellow Tone; Solid, Old Man; Sono; Rugged Romeo; Circe; Air Conditioned Jungle; Excerpts from Black, Brown and Beige, and Perfume Suite; Bugle Break Extended. Intermission. Take the "A" Train; A Tonal Group; Bassist and Me; Diminuendo in Blue, Transbluency [sic], Crescendo in Blue; Magenta Haze; Hometown; Suburbanite; Songs featuring Albert Hibbler; Riffin' Drill [sic].
DEMS 83/3-7: Salt Lake City (from show): In Timner (2nd edition) this is dated March 41, and in WWofDE (entry 40-12) as March 40. Which date is correct? Luis Contijoch
We know Duke played a theatre stage show in Salt Lake City 16-18Mar40. The next year he visited Salt Lake City playing the New Lake Theatre 21-25Mar (Variety 12Mar41, p38). The first date is stated in WWofDE because of the repertoire which fits with what the band featured during its appearances at other stage shows during this Western Tour.
DEMS 84/4-8: Another reason for dating this March 1940 is that CW is present. The solo routines should read: St. Louis Blues: DE RS BB CW DE vCW?/HC/DE BW JN (the vocalist is not IA but a male one, possibly CW although the pitch is higher than usual for him). Serenade to Sweden: DE WJ CW (not JN) HC DE . Pyramid: tomtDE JT ssJH CW ssJH HC/ssJH ssJH WJ JT. T Larsson
Originally Joe Igo also mentioned March 1941 as the date for this recording. He gave as reason the fact that he heard Ray Nance's vocal on St. Louis Blues. Waxworks and DESOR prefer Ivie Anderson. Later Joe Igo followed Benny Aasland. I couldn't make up my mind. My copy of the recording is too poor. SH
I am starting to suspect that the Salt Lake City gig in March 1940 (16-18) is a phantom (See Ken Vail p178, Klaus Stratemann p161, Timner 3rd and 4th edition and the New DESOR p47). The St. Louis Argus said Duke was going to play a gig in St. Louis March 16, but said, "Don't get excited - it is for ofays only."
Also, it is a long way from Chicago to Salt Lake City (far west of Denver), then back to Denver. Joe Igo's itinerary does not list any sources for the Salt Lake City gig, either, and most gigs have sources listed.
I have always been sceptical regarding this alleged gig, first documented by Benny Aasland. The stay is too short anyway, if "correct" it should have been a whole week, starting on a Friday.
The surviving recorded snippets from a stage show, which include Serenade to Sweden, is however from this period. Only the location is wrong.
Have you noted that, according to Dr. Stratemann, the Duke played at the same venue in Salt Lake City - almost to the day - one year later? But in 1941 he was having additional gigs in the same area. Thus it appears that the 1941 gig is genuine while the 1940 gig is a fake - only listed because of Benny Aasland's earlier notes.
I knew Benny Aasland for 25+ years. Naturally at times I wanted to check certain "claims" with him. However, he was reluctant to "name names" and usually said that he had "indications" that what he claimed was correct. In fact, "indications" was a favorite expression of his!
I am of the same age group as Benny's own son so he did not treat me like an equal - I was forever a junior member in the Ellington research team. Oh well, I don't mind, Benny and I had plenty of fun together.
Most of the TAX LPs with Ellingtonia were put together by me and Benny at my place, with the aid of some nice sounding 78s and a big bottle of Scotch! I did all the transfers and re-mastering on my own in the early days but certain test pressings were purchased (on tape) from John R. T. Davies in England.
In the light of latter-day research (these halcyon days of Steven Lasker and Ken Steiner) most of Benny's pioneer research doesn't hold up very well because he hardly ever consulted record company files or contemporary dailies. But he had the vision that there should be a world-wide forum of Ellington collectors and in that regard I believe he did succeed!
The "period" Benny originally suggested in WWofDE, Mar40, seems accurate. Can Steven Lasker find the release date of Columbia 78 rpm record 35214? As I speculated before, I think that the Duke included Serenade to Sweden in his stage shows when the recording was "fresh" in the record stores. No other band recorded the tune.
Ken Steiner may some day locate reviews in local papers of the Duke's stage shows from the Summer of 1939 up to the Spring of 1940. Then we may find out when Serenade to Sweden was featured.
I think that the final outcome of this will be that the "Salt Lake City stage show of mid-March 1940" will be changed into "Stage show, unknown venue, Summer or Fall 1939".
I have not found confirmation of the Salt Lake City gig in 1940. All I have been able to get a hold of so far is one Salt Lake City paper, for March 15-31, 1940, and I found no mention in it of Duke Ellington or a New Lake Theater.
Salt Lake City is one of the most conservative cities in the country, with over half of the population being of the Mormon religion. Perhaps the paper I checked was a conservative, church dominated paper, and would not have mentioned Duke. I have other reasons to question the existence of this gig the distance between Chicago and Salt Lake City being one of them. I am also checking on the Salt Lake City and Ogden gigs in 1941.
These are remarkable, if barely audible recordings. That does sound like Blanton is with the band, though, doesn't it?
There was a lovely and befittingly elegant memorial service for Edmund Anderson at St. Peter's Church on Saturday 14Sep. (See DEMS 02/2-2)
Dick Sudhalter put it together. Speakers included Bobby Short, Jean Bach, one each of Edmund's daughters and step-sons, and the musicians included Dick Hyman, Daryl Sherman, Derek Smith, Yvette Glover, Jerry Dodgion, Jon Gordon, Boots Maleson, Eddie Locke and myself.
During an Ellington panel discussion I put together for TDES back in the early 80's, Edmund told the story of an informal concert that he put together (on the Astor Roof, as I recall) featuring the two piano playing/composers, Ellington and Rachmaninov. Does anyone have access to data about when Sergei was in NYC in '38?