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The Other Cotton Club Orchestra

supplement to
The Duke – Where and When
A Chronicle of Duke Ellington's
Working Life and Travels

Related webpages:
The Duke, Where and When
Technical details and tips
Biggest Show of 1951
Ivie (Ivy) Anderson
Jimmie Blanton and Junior Raglin
Messin' Around Revue of 1926
Wini Johnson and Wini Brown

Newspaper ads, announcements and reports in 1928 from various locations outside New York named the Cotton Club Orchestra, the Original Cotton Club Orchestra, and the New York Cotton Club Orchestra.

These clearly weren't Ellington's orchestra at the Cotton Club, so who were they?

In replying to my September 2018 question in Duke-LYM, Remco Plas suggested the group might have been the orchestra Ellington's band replaced when it started at the Cotton Club.

Further research confirms this to be so:


The house band at the Cotton Club in New York from 1924 until 1927 was Andy Preer's Cotton Club Orchestra, also known as The Missourians.

After Preer died in March 1927, his band stayed on until it was replaced on December 4, when the Cotton Club, first having offered the job to King Oliver, hired Ellington and his orchestra.

The remnants of Preer's band toured in an Earl Dancer revue starring Ethel Waters, and then teamed up with a song and dance team on the vaudeville circuit.

Billed and referred to as the Original Cotton Club Orchestra, Cotton Club Orchestra and New York Cotton Club Orchestra, this band eventually returned to New York, taking up residency at the Savoy Ballroom and subbing for the Ellington orchestra at the Cotton Club during the summer of 1930. Cab Calloway was made its leader, and it once more became the house band at the Cotton Club when Ellington took his band on the road February 1931.


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David Palmquist
Delta, BC, Canada