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Adolphus J. Alsbrook
Ellington's Bass Player, 1939

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

Researched by:
Ken Steiner, Steven Bowie, Steven Lasker and David Palmquist

This webpage was designed and is maintained by David Palmquist.
Last updated 2022-10-14

Alsbrook with wife and mother-in-law
Click to Enlarge
Mr. Alsbrook's musical resumé, provided to his son:
(click here to view the typed document)

1.   ANDY KIRK and His Twelve Clouds of Joy1932
2.   Ray Dysart's Orchestra (My foster father)1932 & 33
3.   KING OLIVER (Lester YOung, Sam Allen & Jack Holt)1933
4.   Rook Came (Lester Young's sojourn = 9-34 to 2-36)1933-34-35-36
5.   Eli Rice's territory orchestra1936-37
6.   Boyd Atkin's Orchstra1939
8.   The interim years from 1939 to 1949 (except for 20 months that I lived in the Seattle area i.e. 1945-46-47) were spent following my first vocational effort, orchestral arranging. From 1930 thru 1954 I orchestrated for at least fifty of the nation's NAME and SEMI-NAME hotel orchestras. The first one was RED NICHOLS' orchestra and the last was LAWRENCE WELK's rchestra. In 1949 I did two shows for Ted Lewis' Aggregation & Show-box..
9.   COUNT BASIE's Orchestra with Billy Eckstine & George Shearing1952
10.   CAB CALLOWAY (11 weeks at the SAHARA HOTEL, Las Vegas1954
11.   BENNY CARTER's (big band) 7 weeks at the MOULIN ROUGE, N.Y.1955
12.   CAB CALLOWAY (7 weeks at the DUNES HOTEL, Las Vegas1955-56
13.   SLIM GAILARD Tiffany Club orchestrating for Welk1956
14.   Ernie Freeman (about six months, 2 tours & 40 recordings1956
This is the second time that I changed from up-right acoustic double-bass to the pop-styled FENDER bass. The pop-tunes at that time were like: JIVIN' AROUND, ROUNCHY [sic], LOCOMOTION, ets.[sic]1956
15.   EARL BOSTIC's Orchestra - short road tours and appearances1956-57-58
16.   Jack Fina's Beverly Hills Hotel Orchestra from 6-63 to 2-67 plus several T-V shows and movies. Plus WARM-UPS
Danny Thomas Shows -Gomer Pyle
Danny Thomas
Dick Van Dyke
Nat Cole W.C. Handy Story
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - Semi-retired with wife who is retired. I have worked only 22 weeks on steady jobs of five days or more per week during the last nine years here in Canada

Hyatt Howard - Town & Country Club Seattle Washington
Billy Daniels - Trojan Horse (Benny Payne-Cab Calloway's Alumnae)
Thelonius Monk - Fresh Air
Charles Gray's INK SECTS [MODERN]
Most of my arranging in the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Chicago area besides that done for hotel-orchestras was for theatrical personages and groups.
Note: Beatrice Kay, Rudy Valle, George Gobel, etc.
(Check the famous and well-known names)
344 to350 = approximately 2,000 orchestrators

Explain "GHOST WRITING" i.e. Benny Carter, Dr. Herbert Doerfel, Fred Glickman, Lyle "Spud" Murphy, etc.

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.

Who was Mr. Alsbrook?

Early life:

University years:

The Lawrence Daily Journal-World, Lawrence, Kansas:
  • The 1934 Kansas City city directory lists Alsbrook Adolphus musician, with his mother and brothers at the same address. Brother Jas E is shown as news editor and his mother and two brothers.
  • Twin City Herald, Minneapolis, Minn. 1934-03-17 p.2, names Adolphus Alsbrook as one of 48 men arrested in raids on Minneapolis Northside gaming houses. Most of the men opted to pay their $5 fines instead of spending 5 days in jail.
  • Minneapolis Spokesman, 1935-09-27 reported Adolphus J. Alsbrook, University of Minnesota student, was working his way through college by selling coal for the Great Northern Coal Co.
  • Between University and Ellington:

    With Ellington:

    After Ellington: