Ellington on CD The Dooji Collection
(Ellington record labels)TDWAW
Section 8/1 of The International DEMS Bulletin 03/1 April-July 2003 is titled "Another little known Ellingtonian," and opens by quoting an October 13, 1939 Kansas City Call report discovered by Ken Steiner saying Adolphus J. Alsbrook was a recent addtion to Ellington's orchestra. The Bulletin carries related comments from correspondents of the Duke-LYM email discussion list.
String bassist Adolphus Jeremiah Alsbrook, Jr. [1912 02 21 - 1988 06 02] played in the Ellington orchestra for perhaps a month in late 1939.
'ADOLPHUS J. ALSBROOK
Adolphus J. Alsbrook. North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, formerly of Kansas City, Kan., died June 2, 1988 at a hospital in North Vancouver. He was born in Kansas City, Kan., and had lived in North Vancouver for more than 20 years. Mr. Alsbrook was a string musician, playing the violin, bass violin, cello and harp, and began his career playing with jazz bands in the area of 18th and Vine streets in Kansas City. He later played with orchestras led by LaForrest Dent, King Oliver, Cab Calloway, Count Basie, and Duke Ellington, and arranged music for Tommy Dorsey and Lawrence Welk. He attended the University of Kansas and the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. Survivors include his wife, Helga Lichtenstagen Alsbrook of the home, a son, Darryl Spillane Alsbrook..., two brothers. James Eldridge Alsbrook ... and William Noel Alsbrook... and three grandchildren...'
Alsbrook Adolphus musician, with his mother and brothers at the same address. Brother
Jas Eis shown as
news editorand his mother and two brothers.
'ADOLPHUS ALSBROOK JOINS LEE ELI RICE ORCHESTRA
Adolphus Alsbrook, 1148 Armstrong, who has been engaged for the past two weeks at the Sunset Club, plans to return to Minneapolis, Minnesota Monday. Mr. Adolphus has signed up with the Lee Eli Rice Orchestra of Minnesota. This group tours the Northern States during the summer and the coast and Southern states during fall and winter. Mr. Alsbrook will play the bass violin and perhaps the banjo.'
'Mr. Adolphus J.M.Alsbrook left the city Wednesday night for Minneapolis, Minn., where he will join Eli Rice's orchestra as bass violinist and arranger. The orchestra will tour western states until the autumn, when Mr. Alsbrook will enter the University of Southern California.'
'Adolphus Alsbrook, mine honorable kinsman, is playing with a band now touring Idaho and has captured a wild coyote which he threatens to send home.'
Alsbrook Adolphus musician r106 Highland av.
'The best estimate Ken could make is that Adolphus worked for Ellington between mid September and mid October 1939. He knows that it was a month and since Adolphus was from Kansas City Ken suspects that he left the band around 8 or 9oct39 when the band played there.'
'Adolphus J. Alsbrook of Kansas City, Kas., and Minneapolis, Minn., is a recent addition to Duke Ellington's orchestra. He plays the bass violin, harp, accordion and guitar, and has arranged music for such orchestras as Red Nichols, Paul Pendarvis and others in Minneapolis. He has composed several novelty numbers. A graduate of Sumner high school, he has attended the University of Kansas, the University of Minnesota and the Chicago Conservatory of Music. He is also the brother of William Noel Alsbrook of the Deep River quartet and James E. Alsbrook of the Call staff. 'and Steiner's comment:
'Note: Billy Taylor was the orchestra's bassist at the time. Perhaps Alsbrook sat in with the band for a short while as a second bassist. Evidently things didn't work out. Duke would pick up a pretty good bass player shortly thereafter.'
'Waiting to be published in a future Bulletin is a letter which DEMS received from Darryl Scott Alsbrook, the son of the bass-player Adolphus Alsbrook, mentioned by Ken Steiner (and commented on by others) on Duke-LYM... Steiner reported of his meeting with the son. [Darryl] did not get to know his father until he (Darryl) was a grown man. In the documentation about his father he only found: Duke Ellington 1939. Adolphus told his son that he left Ellington because he could make more money arranging...The best estimate Ken could make is that Adolphus worked for Ellington between mid September and mid October 1939. He knows that it was a month and since Adolphus was from Kansas City Ken suspects that he left the band around 8 or 9oct39 when the band played there...'
'...Jimmy [sic] Blanton told me he (Adolphus) carved a wooden pick with one hand, kept playing with the other, finished his pick, and played more than a guitar with it.'(Bob Smith, "About pop/rock/jazz," The Vancouver Sun, Vancouver B.C. 1971-08-06 p.27A)
Alsbrook Adolphus musician r1148 Armstrong av.His mother Elgeitha and brothers Jas. E and Noel are listed at the same address. The 1940 Minneapolis city directory also lists him, at 3632 Snelling av
Alsbrook Adolphus J musician r3632 Snelling av.
'...I used to see him walking across the viaduct from Kansas City, Kansas, to Kansas City, Missouri, with his bass on his back. He was a great bass player, but he complained that Duke was using all the wrong chords. He was a great arranger, too, but he didn't want to consider that Duke was creating a new sound in music. He became a professor up at the University of Minnesota.'[the professorship has not been confirmed]
'I soon learned that as long as you have a black face in America, you've got to accept prejudice. Not riot against it ... Only a fool would try to buck the white power structure of America. I can take the guff. But my wife and her folks have had too rough a life to take it. After Watts, all of America seemed to be going through a nervous breakdown. We decided to call it quits before the country got sicker.'
The other night I heard a cat play the way Adolphus Alsbrook used to. I didn't suppose it to be possible, but they do it.
Bird, you putting me on? That's the second time I heard about Adolphus Alsbrook. Jimmy Blanton told me he (Adolphus) carved a wooden pick with one hand, kept playing with the other, finished his pick, and played more than a guitar with it.
Well that's very nice but they're wrong about one thing. I learned to use a kind of guitar pick on my bass by talking to Wellman Braud, you know, the fellow from New Orleans that used to play with Duke Ellington.