DUKE ELLINGTON MUSIC SOCIETY
03/1 April-July 2003
FOUNDER: BENNY AASLAND
Voort 18b, Meerle, Belgium
Telephone: +32 3 315 75 83
Duke participated in this "Carnival Of Swing" WNEW-Bc (see mainly DEMS Bulletin 93/2- 5/2).
The Ella Fitzgerald files of my friend Michel Macaire say: "recorded off the air by Bill SAVORY who, as recently as 1991, confirmed that discs still exist".
Anyone know Bill Savory?
- Klaus Götting
I don't, but I guess that reprinting the 1993 article by Benny Aasland could be interesting. See also 02/2-20.
On behalf of DEMS member Hällström we took a closer look at this event. Mr. Hällström was puzzled by the date in Stratemann's book, top of page 153, where the date is given as May 19, a date stated in some magazines. The source for this date must be a misprint. Way back when my friend Joe Igo, now not longer with us, and I exchanged material for discographical research efforts, he had the date as 29May38, and so did I. "Swing Magazine (July 1938)", wrote:
"New York's 'Carnival Of Swing' held May 29th at Randall's Island Stadium, drew 24,000 persons.
Highlight of the show in which 25 Orchestras appeared, was Duke Ellington's band rendition of Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue. During the selection, 3000 grandstand spectators rushed onto the field in an effort to get near the bandstand delaying the concert about ten minutes while emergency police restored order."
Another contemporary magazine, with another somewhat distorted date as May 28, reported as follows: "All day swing concert for the benefit of Local 802's Hospital Fund. MC: Martin Block. In addition to the appearance and performance of Duke Ellington the following artists performed: Chick Webb, Vincent Lopez, Artie Shaw, Hal Kemp, Sammy Kaye, Bunny Berigan, Kay Kaiser, Count Basie, Russ Morgan, Benny Goodman, Will Hudson, Milt Herth, Stuff Smith, Larry Clinton, Will Osborne and the Andrew Sisters."
In my files I came across comments by a fellow (name unfortunately not noted by me) made long afterwards, date correct, from which we cite:
"Benny Goodman was scheduled to appear but had to bow out at the last minute. Duke's portion of the program was a real swinger and a preview of what would occur at the Newport Jazz Festival almost twenty years later. During the performance of the Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue a wave of mass hysteria overcame the audience. This high-pitched frenzy continued as Ivie Anderson mounted the stage to swing into St. Louis Blues and the band blew and Ivie sang chorus after chorus for almost ten minutes."
Personally I think we should accept the correct date as to be 29May38. In the DEMS 89/1 picture section you can watch two excellent photographs with Duke and the band from the Randall's Island occasion. In the Columbia C3L 27 and C3L 39 LP-boxes are also pictures to be found in respective booklet included.
- Benny Aasland
The same session is mentioned by Jacques Lubin in "Point du Jazz" No. 18. Jacques only mentioned Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue. There is also a picture in Klaus Stratemann's "Day by Day - Film by Film" p155.
There has never been found a trace of a recording of the broadcast. It would be great if we could find Mr Savory and find out if he has a recording.
See DEMS 85/3-3 and 93/2-3
Two sessions are claimed to be broadcast on 17 and 19 Aug40 in WaxWorks 40-20y/z and in the New DESOR 4016/17. Ken Steiner and Carl Hällström have sent to DEMS copies of their e-mail correspondence. Recently the matter became a subject of discussion on the Duke-LYM list.
Ken Steiner: I have been using reference librarians around the country to aid my research. The Canobie Lake Park gig has been one of the tougher ones to crack. The librarian in nearby Lawrence, Massachusetts sent me a copy of an ad from a paper for Duke at Canobie Lake Park, but didn't indicate which newspaper or what date it was from!
Carl Hällström: Hard to believe that the Duke spent 3 days there in August of 1940 anyway, there were no broadcasts from the venue and the "Canobie Park broadcasts" on the Everybodys LP put out by Jerry Valburn aren't broadcasts at all. They appear to be studio rehearsal recordings from the same period or possible earlier. I don't hear Ben Webster on these tracks do you ?
Ken Steiner: How can you tell they're not broadcasts?
Carl Hällström: It's an educated guess but I think I'm correct this time. I have been sending you plenty of vintage broadcasts over the past few years. They have a fuzzy sound, noises from the dancers, applause during and after the tunes, re-verb from a huge ballroom.
But - the Canobie "broadcasts" have perfect recording balance, no crowd noises, no announcements. Listen to "The Duke in Boston" CD "from the same period" and you'll hear what I am trying to tell you !
Two of the tunes can be fitted into any of the Duke's "periods", Boy Meets Horn was still part of the late 1940 band (Fargo) while Ridin' on a Blue Note had a very limited time-span in the Duke's "book". Thus, late 1938 or 1939.
Jerry Valburn: As the producer of the EVERYBODYS LP I can assure you that these are genuine items from 1940. The acetates we transferred from came from the collection of Charlie Vinal in Boston. He had a decent home recording machine and began cutting acetates in 1938. He did keep accurate details on the label of his acetates as to location and most importantly the DATES. His other Ellington material from 1940 included the EASTWOOD GARDENS dates and the HOTEL SHERMAN dates. And all, I'm happy to say well recorded. I don't know who started a rumour that these air checks were from 1938. Further, if you check books with Duke's itinerary, you will find the Canobie Lake material and the dates on the acetate labels to correctly coincide. So let's put this all to bed once and for all.
Sjef Hoefsmit: The fact that Duke's itinerary caries the same dates as the sleeve of the LP cannot be considered a confirmation because the liner notes were the source for the entry in Duke's itinerary.
Carl Hällström: Just dug out the Everybodys LP and refreshed my memory. I have to agree with Mark Tucker, who wrote the booklet notes, that it is Jimmy Blanton on string bass and I do not hear Ben Webster. Anyway, no announcer or crowd noises are to be heard on these 4 snippets, the overall "sound" does not suggest a late night broadcast from an overcrowded dance hall.
Sjef Hoefsmit: Listening to the recordings, one can hear some applause at the edges of Ridin' on a Blue Note.
Loren Schoenberg: I gave them a close listen, and the bass lines (which could easily be Billy Taylor on a good night) do not have that Blanton shape, to these ears at least, and the band plays with an abandon that certainly suggests a live audience.
Anthony Coleman: My two cents: whoever listens to Ridin' on a Blue Note and even IMAGINES that that's not Blanton needs to have his low end hearing checked! Also, the development of the arrangement would lead me to believe it was quite some time after the original recording unscientific statistical analysis of this process based on 30 years of comparing Ellington's studio recordings to later broadcasts . Also, don't forget how Webster described his process upon joining the band: "grab a note and hold on!" It's not surprising that on pieces that had been in the book for some time we wouldn't particularly notice him but it FEELS like a somewhat thicker sax section.
Loren Schoenberg: When I listened to them again last night, I surrounded them with airchecks that do have Blanton, and I again feel that the CONTENT of the lines don't necessarily spell Blanton. I do agree that the band has a specific verve that is different from most of what I know about the '39 band via live recordings.
I would just like to throw things into a different context just for a moment and express my gratitude to Jerry for all of the wonderful music he collected and generously made available during all those years when so many collectors held on to things like this as if they had actually some legal and/or moral monopoly on the recordings.
I enjoy the discographical dickering and musicological musings (which is good considering I am a musicologist of sorts) with all their overtones but never want to lose the focus on people who share, like Jerry has all these years.
Maybe it IS Blanton . on the other hand, 5 as opposed to 4 reeds in this context is usually audible, especially when it was the older material that Ben figured out his own part to.
See DEMS 02/2-21 and DEMS 02/3-6/2 last item.
We concluded our article with the question: "What was the date of the Detroit News?" The dates of the Detroit News newspapers were 30Jul and 1Aug40. Steven Lasker has sent us photocopies of these newspapers. They came from the files of Joe Showler.
In his column Revelry by Night, Herschell Hart wrote in the Tuesday 30Jul edition 'Duke Ellington (Eastwood) says he plays "true Negro music" and doubts "if many whites understand it at all." He opens at Virginia Beach's Surf Club, Aug.4 . That's all more "Revelry" Wednesday.'
The next day in the same column: "Red Nichols' Band standard for so long his friends are legion comes into Eastwood Friday Night, succeeding Duke Ellington, who bows out tonight." In the same edition is this advertisement:
A friend of mine has asked me about an event in which Duke was involved and I can't trace it. Is there anyone who can confirm the event and better still give me any known details about the event and if any known recording exist?
The event as my friend heard it, was supposed to have taken place on Sunday, 9Mar58. He says that Duke and Stan Kenton appeared at a four hour inaugural programme and shared MC duties when KNOB radio station in LA re-launched itself, on a new frequency, using a more powerful wattage giving a much stronger output signal. Additional information he quoted was that KNOB was the first only-jazz radio station in the world. Maurice Rolfe
Ken Poston, whom many Ellingtonians will recognize from his days at KLON in Long Beach, has researched the question about Ellington and Kenton at the re-launch of KNOB. Here's his note: I found the newspaper articles in Sleepy's scrapbooks that reported the event. It was 9Mar58. The station changed frequency from 103.1 to 98.1 and increased power to 3500. They celebrated with a four hour program from 5-9 pm with Stan Kenton and Duke Ellington as emcees. It looks like it was a radio show not a live event. Unfortunately all of the articles are reporting the event as it was going to happen. I didn't find anything that reported after the fact. With that in mind here is the list of artists scheduled to be "heard".
It wasn't clear if they performed or just spoke: Dave Brubeck, June Christy, Woody Herman, Paul Desmond, Jerry Fielding, Terry Gibbs, Shelly Manne, Pete Jolly, Jimmy Giuffre, Harry Carney, Shorty Rogers, Buddy Defranco, Benny Carter, Dave Pell, Chico Hamilton, Red Norvo, Charlie Barnet, Red Mitchell, Murray McEachern, Ben Pollack, Conte Candoli, Bob Cooper, Fred Katz and Teddy Buckner. At 9 pm, Theme Magazine presented an hour long capsule history of Jazz.
- Ed Bride
More about Duke and Stan on page 9.
Late May27. See DEMS 02/2-19 Per The Chicago Defender (national edition), 28May27, p7: "Duke Ellington's Club Kentucky orchestra is playing at Billie Cain's Night Club, New York. The club opened 19May." SL = Steven Lasker
15Apr43. Al Hibbler joined the band on this date. SL
10oct44. Stratemann shows that Duke Ellington, in Chicago this date, was interviewed by Bill Stern for the KFI radio show "Sports Newsreel." Note, however, that KFI is a Los Angeles radio station. SL
21Feb50. Stockton Civic Auditorium, Stockton, California. Concert and dance (per the 21Feb50 Stockton Record, p14, courtesy of Joe Showler). SL
17Aug65. Gaslight Club (a private club and bistro), Los Angeles, CA. (Per down beat, 1Jul65, p15.) SL
11-16Feb69. According to the Booking Contracts (Subseries 3A Box 8 in the Duke Ellington Collection) Duke Ellington and His Orchestra were contracted to play at Ballard's, Smithfield, Providence, Rhode Island on February 11-16, 1969. They were to be paid $8000 for playing from 9-2 am. The contact specified "Duke Ellington is to receive 100% sole star top headline billing on marquee". The contract was signed by a Paul Filipi for Ballard's.
- Tom McDade and Hans-Joachim Schmidt
9Mar69. The concert with the California Youth Symphony orchestra under conductor Aaron Sten (not Stein) actually took place at Foothill College in Los Altos, California (per an unsourced correction made in my copy of Stratemann years ago).
See DEMS 02/3-7/2
To answer Carl's question: Columbia 35214 was released 15Sep39. (Serenade to Sweden, 6Jun39.)
- Steven Lasker
I have more confirmation of Duke Ellington appearing in St. Louis on Saturday, March 16, 1940 en route from Chicago to Denver. The St. Louis Globe Democrat ran advertisements on March 12, 14, 15 and 16 for a club called Tune Town. Little information is given, except "One Nite Only - Doors Open at 8:30 - Admission 40 cents - Dancing." (See page 7 item 1)
There were live broadcasts at 10:30 and 11:45 pm over KXOK. Could it be possible that recordings labelled STL from this date were mis-interpreted as Salt Lake City when it really meant St. Louis? (See page 7 item 2)
- Ken Steiner
The Tune Town Ballroom in St. Louis is known to me. Have you ever heard "Tune Town Shuffle" with Count Basie from 1941? Hmm, two broadcasts you say. STILL I would say "no" to your question if the "reported" Salt Lake City stuff in fact could be a BROADCAST from the Tune Town ballroom in St. Louis at the same date. My reasons:
(a) The "Salt Lake" recordings are from a STAGE SHOW, and the sound is tapped from the local PA system, that's why the balance is so poor! It's no doubt a local Ellington fan with his small Presto recorder who is plugged into the few mikes on the stage.
(b) I feel that the "Salt Lake" recordings are earlier than March 1940, could be Summer or Fall of 1939.
(c) A BROADCAST from the Tune Town Ballroom would be a "proper broadcast" a la the presentations we have from Boston and Detroit, nice sound from broadcast mikes, an announcer and the tunes performed would not be "hokum" a la a stage show !
- Carl Hällström
That is Webster on St. Louis Blues, though, isn't it?
- Ken Steiner
Indeed. It's Ben. That puts the recording date between 8Jan40 and 13Aug43.
Thank you Ken Steiner, for sending me photocopies of the Salt Lake Tribune of Saturday Morning, 16Mar40 and the Salt Lake Telegram of Saturday Evening, 16Mar40. I cannot show the absence of any mention of Ellington in the newspapers, but I can testify that there was nothing.
If the recording is indeed from a theatre gig, my guess is sometime in Feb40 the State- Lake or Regal in Chicago, or the Michigan tour (mostly theatre gigs) of mid-Feb to mid-Mar40. I do have a few reviews of the Chicago gigs, and they do mention Boy Meets Horn as a feature.
Since it is highly likely that the Duke Ellington Orchestra was in St. Louis and not Salt Lake City, on 16Mar40, please let me suggest that the recording was made at the State-Lake Theatre the first week of Feb40. Here is a portion of Variety's review of the 3Feb40 performance:
"Band scores with Prelude in C Sharp Minor, St. Louis Blues and Mood Indigo in addition to an opening medley of Ellington composed tunes. Cornetist of the orchestra has a wow session on his own with a special trumpet solo." (See page 7 item 3)
The last tune mentioned must be Boy Meets Horn, which is heard along with St. Louis Blues and Mood Indigo on the recording.
The early February date makes sense. Webster had just joined the band and maybe that's why he's only heard on St. Louis Blues a tune he certainly knew. It also explains why none of the tunes recorded for Victor in March such as Ko-Ko and Jack the Bear are heard.
Could it be the State-Lake Theater, Chicago, has been mistaken as New Lake Theater, Salt Lake City? And it would be very likely that a big theater in a big city like Chicago had a permanent recording machine connected to the stage's PA-system for all kind of checkings!
If you check your Stratemann (p161), you'll see the band at the State-Lake Theater 2-8Feb40.
This ad is from the Chicago Daily Tribune of 2Feb40.
If the recording is indeed from this gig, wouldn't that make this the first one of the Blanton- Webster band? Although the sound on St. Louis Blues is damaged, almost beyond recognition with the vocal, the quality is best on the very exciting moment when Webster's solo is supported by a blazingly fast Blanton. The reviews indicate that the band was a sensation. (See page 7 item 4)
I hope my Itinerary research will help others identify and perhaps even locate more recordings.
If any readers would like to comment to me, please feel free to pass on my e-mail address
- Ken Steiner
Page 38 of Aasland - Valburn's "Duke Ellington The Master - Variety Period" gives a different playbill than Dr. Stratemann on p161 of "Day by Day and Film by Film" for a gig at the State-Lake Theatre in Chicago, Feb 2, 1940, 6 days: 3 tunes with Ivie including St. Louis Blues; Boy Meets Horn and "Medley of Song Hits" just the very tunes we have on the Salt Lake City stage show.
- Carl Hällström**
See DEMS 02/3-16/1
If the year that this picture was taken was indeed 1933 (and I have no doubts about that) the correct date is 26Jul33. On 25Jul33 Duke played the Kurhaus in Scheveningen (between the Hague and the coast of the North Sea) and on 27Jul Duke played the Salle Pleyel in Paris. The 26th was occupied by travel.
- Joe Farrier
03/1 DEMS 7