DUKE ELLINGTON MUSIC SOCIETY
09/2 August - November 2009
Our 31st Year of Publication
FOUNDER: BENNY AASLAND
Voort 18b, 2328 Meerle, Belgium
Telephone: +32 3 315 75 83
Bud Shank died in Tucson, Arizona on 2 April 2009.
This is taken from Bud’s interview with Gordon Jack as contained in Gordon’s work, “Fifties Jazz Talk: An Oral Perspective”, from the series “Studies in Jazz” #47, published by Scarecrow Press in 2004:
“In January 1966 Duke Ellington came out to Hollywood to record the music he'd written for a Sinatra film called “Assault on a Queen”. I was playing in L.A. with Stan Kenton's Neophonic Orchestra at the time, and we were doing monthly concerts of new material which actually featured me quite a lot. Duke came to one of the concerts and asked me to join his orchestra on lead alto. Of course I was very flattered, but I wasn't in a position to leave L.A. at he time, and with the difficulties jazz was having, it wasn't a good time to be on the road with any band, even Duke's. I also had some family problems that would have made it difficult for me to be away, and I was just getting established in the studios, doing the better work. For the film score he had a nucleus of his own sidemen, like Cat Anderson, Cootie Williams, Jimmy Hamilton, Johnny Hodges, Paul Gonsalves, and Harry Carney, supplemented local studio players, Conte Candoli, Al Porcino, Milt Bernhart, Buddy Collette, and myself."
As Joe Medjuck reported in DEMS 08/2-23, a recording of The Big Heist by Bud Shank with Duke Ellington and his Orchestra was released last year. The CD is difficult to acquire, because it is only offered in a package with the DVD which has area code 1, not playable in Europe, only in the US. One can however download from Amazon a MP3 file with the music from the CD. It is undeniably the Ellington Orchestra with Cat Anderson, Paul Gonsalves, Jimmy Hamilton and Duke on the piano. It should be included in Duke’s discography on either of the two dates 19 or 20Jan66 and added to session DE6602.
Joe Medjuck has sent me in Jul08 a copy of the MP3 file. I should have reported about this recording a year ago. Joe has also sent me a lot of other material related to “Assault on a Queen”. I planned to discuss all these very interesting recordings at the same time, but I failed. Sorry to DEMS readers and above all, sorry to Joe!
Eddie Preston, trumpet player, died on 22Jun09. He was 80 years old. Eddie did two stints with the Duke Ellington Orchestra, April-July, 1963 and January-December 1971.
His funeral was at the First AME Church on Friday 27Jun at 91 Old Kings Road, Palm Coast Florida. His address is 62 Fordham Lane, Palm Coast, Florida, 32137.
In Morris’ message and in my New Grove of 1994 it is claimed that Eddie was with Ellington in 1962, but that is wrong. It was in 1963. Eddie joined the band in the 1963 European tour. He soloed however prominently during his second stay in the band, especially in How High the Moon. It’s a pity that none of these recordings have ever been released.
Echoes of Ellington
A Personal Reflection by Bill Saxonis
The Echoes of Ellington conference was a three-day exploration of the
music and life of Duke Ellington, held at the University of Texas, Butler School
of Music, in Austin, Texas (April 15-17, 2009). The Conference offered
presentations by Ellington scholars during the day and live performances of
Ellington’s music at night. The most promoted element of the conference was a
performance of Duke Ellington’s only and rarely heard opera, Queenie Pie.
The Butler School of Music, one of the leading music schools in the United States, has about 100 faculty members and more than 700 students from around the world. The school is gaining prominence as the result of a recent $55 million endowment from Austin philanthropists Sarah and Ernest Butler. This endowment gives the school a solid financial foundation to undertake ambitious cultural projects like Echoes of Ellington.
For me, Echoes of Ellington was a “beyond category” opportunity to interact with Ellington scholars and hear and see Queenie Pie for the first time. An additional attraction was that conference organizers accepted my paper, Ellington’s Sophisticated Folk Music, for presentation. This talk was a variation of my presentation at Ellington 2008 in London [DEMS 08/2-6/15]. Unlike Ellington 2008, with its diversity of speakers (e.g., musicians, Ellington alumni, teachers, fans, authors), I was only one of two of the 18 speakers who wasn’t representing a college or university as either a student or professor. While I am a frequent speaker around the country on energy issues, and a student of Ellingtonia for over 30 years, I am not currently associated with a university or college and do not have formal academic music credentials. At the suggestion of the University, I was listed in the Echoes of Ellington program as an “Independent Scholar.” I didn’t complain about the designation.
As a participant in Echoes of Ellington, I am not in the best position to be a detached and objective reporter. My portrayal of the conference is naturally colored by my own perceptions, ideas, and opinions. For these reasons, I call it a personal reflection. My reflections are divided into three main sections:
1. The keynote addresses
2. The speakers
3. The music
1. The Keynote Addresses
James Lincoln Collier
At about seven PM on a warm Texas evening (Wednesday, April 15), James Lincoln Collier approached the podium to kick off Echoes of Ellington. He was the first of three keynote speakers we would hear during the conference. Collier’s talk was titled The Ellington Personality. It was with great expectations that I sat in the audience and wondered what Collier would say 22 years after the release of his controversial biography of Duke Ellington (Duke Ellington, Oxford University Press, 1987) [DEMS 88/2-5]. Controversial may be too tame of a description considering the reaction the book received from reviewers, especially those in the community of Ellington scholars. Stanley Crouch devoted an entire chapter of his book, The All-American Skin Game or The Decoy of Race, to a critique of Collier’s Duke Ellington. Crouch offered a stinging assessment. In Crouch’s view, the biography represented “pulp scholarship, the work of a mind neither up to nor willing to take on the task of explicating the life, work and the context of a genius long obstructed from view by intriguing mystery… though Collier is never less than willing to accuse Ellington of laziness, pretension, perpetually hasty preparation, and ignorance of the components necessary for successful extended composition, those are actually the problems his own aspirant revisionism displays over and over.” While I never attacked the book with same vitriol as Crouch, I always considered Collier’s work the least accurate and satisfactory of all the Ellington biographies. Unfortunately Collier appeared to be more focused on sparking controversy than establishing high standards for scholarship and opening up new insights into Ellington’s complex and rich life.
While the 81 year old Collier is still writing children’s books and is also researching European jazz history, he has largely fallen from view as a jazz writer, making his appearance at Echoes of Ellington all the more unusual. My hope was that the emergence of the massive Ellington collection at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC, the release of hours of previously unavailable Ellington recordings, and a steady flow of new research from scholars worldwide would have provided Collier the opportunity to enhance his research, refine his theories, and offer new perspectives.
The moment of truth arrived as an audience of about 50 eagerly awaited Collier’s talk. Collier appeared distinguished, if a bit disorganized, as he began a somewhat rambling talk on Ellington’s life from what he termed a “sociological viewpoint.” It became apparent early on that Collier's talk was going to cling stubbornly to the observations from his controversial Ellington biography. My impression is that the talk was not all that different from one he might have given 22 years ago. He briefly acknowledged sometimes being in trouble with what he termed “the Ellington Establishment” for some of his comments and conclusions, but never discussed the controversy the book generated or explained why he considered his theories still relevant in light of a flood of new Ellington research in recent years.
Here is a brief snapshot of Collier’s major observations:
Duke’s father James was “a bit of rascal” and a source of inspiration for Duke’s mannerisms and style.
Duke’s mother Daisy loved Duke, but the level of love exceeded a “regular” mother’s love for her son. This unconditional love helped to convince Duke that he was “royalty." According to Collier, this instilled in Duke an inflated sense of his abilities that prevented him from ever “taking instruction.” This “flaw” in Ellington’s character was a limiting force in Ellington’s career, especially in his ability to compose music beyond the three-minute song format.
Collier enthusiastically presented his theory that Duke was "late” in developing an interest in jazz, which was a sharp contrast to other jazz legends. He noted that Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, and Fats Waller as teenagers were drawn into music careers by an intense feeling for the music. Duke, on the other hand, primarily viewed music as an avenue to the high life, good times, and the attention of the opposite sex. An additional force pushing a young Duke Ellington towards music was that it was an acceptable career for a black man in the America of the early 1900s. In this era, respected professions, such as medicine and law, were generally not welcoming to people of color regardless of talent.
Duke's early work (circa 1925-6) was heavily influenced by Fletcher Henderson's style and, according to Collier, was nothing special; he offered an average band of the period, playing average music.
As Duke matured and acquired first class soloists, such as Bubber Miley, the quality of the compositions and the band’s musicianship improved significantly. Collier analyzed two Ellington compositions from around 1927-28. First up was Black and Tan Fantasy. While recognizing it as “a very good jazz piece,” Collier did make clear that “little composing goes on in the song” because of the prominent role of solos from Bubber Miley and Tricky Sam Nanton. Creole Love Call was another composition earning Collier’s approval, but he repeatedly pointed out that Duke “stole” the tune from King Oliver. He did concede that it was “what Ellington did with the song that changed it from an average jazz tune to a jazz classic.”
As in Collier’s book, the conclusion of the 90-minute address recognizes Ellington as a towering figure in music. Collier noted that the New York Times declared Ellington “America’s foremost composer” in its front page Ellington obituary. Collier agreed that the idea was plausible, but sarcastically noted that the family of Charles Ives might object.
Collier’s conclusion that Ellington possibly was America’s foremost composer is always puzzling considering the numerous, and often serious, flaws Collier attributes to Ellington, both as a musician and a man. Logic suggests it would be impossible to achieve such a lofty plateau in the music world -- even assuming a dose of good fortune and Ellington’s considerable charm -- with the negative baggage Collier attributes to Ellington. In my view, the principal flaw of Collier’s Ellington portrait is that his conclusions are frequently contradicted by logic or evidence. Collier takes truths and half-truths and contorts them to fit his conclusions and conveniently ignores conflicting information. As to Collier’s specific points in the presentation and his book, they have been extensively discussed over the years, and I will let the readers assess their validity.
During the conference several of the speakers, myself included, dined with Mr. Collier. I was unsure of what to expect or how I would react considering my long held negative view of his Ellington work. The bottom line is that I found Collier to be engaging, witty, and knowledgeable. In the course of our conversation I asked him pointedly if he would change anything if given the opportunity to update his Ellington biography. Collier’s immediate response was that he would change "everything” but a few minutes later he made clear he would stick with his original conclusions. Of course, his presentation the night before proved his resolve. He did admit that his contention in his book- “Ellington rarely wrote out a composition in complete form, and in many, perhaps most, instances, the work existed on paper only in scraps and pieces, which have long since disappeared.”- was not accurate. Collier conceded that the Ellington collection at the Smithsonian, with its 16.6 cubic feet of music manuscripts from Ellington, Strayhorn, and other Ellington associates, disproved his original statement.
Assuming a more scholarly approach than James Lincoln Collier was Professor John Howland (Rutgers University) whose book, Ellington Uptown: Duke Ellington, James P. Johnson and the Birth of Concert Jazz, was recently published by the University of Michigan Press. Howland’s presentation, The Symphonic Ellington and A Tone Parallel to Harlem, was devoted to an assessment of Ellington’s multi-decade development of concert music with a focus on four Ellington compositions: Boogie Bop Blue, Non-Violent Integration, New World A-Comin, and A Tone Parallel to Harlem. In general Howland has a far more favorable view of Ellington’s longer works than Collier and, in particular, considered A Tone Parallel to Harlem to be a high point. Ted Hudson reviewed Howland’s book in the June 29, 2009 edition of Ellingtonia, a publication of the Duke Ellington Society (Washington D.C). Mr. Hudson described the book as “an important ground- breaking study… scholarly, well informed and well documented.” [See also DEMS 09/2-5]
The duty of capturing the history of Duke Ellington’s opera Queenie Pie fell to the last of the three keynote speakers, Professor John Franceschina (Pennsylvania State University), in a talk he called Croqinole to Queenie Pie: 70 Years of an Unfinished Opera. As the author of the book, Duke Ellington's Music for the Theater, Francescina proved to be an ideal choice for this assignment. The book acknowledges Duke Ellington's contribution to the stage and discusses every theater piece Ellington is known to have worked on during his lifetime, beginning with the 1925 revue The Chocolate Kiddies and ending with the unfinished Queenie Pie. [See also DEMS 01/2-12/3]
2. The Speakers
In addition to the three keynote speeches, Echoes of Ellington featured an additional 15 speakers over 2 days (April 16-17); the speakers were primarily associated with universities either as professors or graduate students. The scope of the presentations was diverse, but with a distinct bias toward approaching Ellington’s music from an academic perspective. Ellington probably would have been both proud and perhaps a bit amused considering how much of his music was influenced by emotional impulses and his suspicion of academic musical training. While some of the papers exceeded my knowledge of the technical underpinning of the music, the quality of the papers always helped hold my attention.
Richard Domek (University of Kentucky, professor)
Formula Tuttis and Sectional Writing in Later Ellington Works
Professor Domek explored Ellington’s orchestral techniques including the use of formula tuttis in pieces from the mid-1950’s onward. The professor discussed several compositions including Le Sucrier Velours, Happy Anatomy, and Second Line. He noted that in Ellington’s compositions there was “a musical reason for everything.” Professor Domek generously provided me with a copy of a CD he made with Miles Osland and the Kentucky Jazz Repertory Orchestra titled Ellington Celebration. The CD was released in 1999 on the Sea Breeze Jazz label. It is a fine recording of classic Ellington/Strayhorn covering four decades of compositions and includes informative liner notes by John Edward Hasse.
Ryan Raul Bañagale (Harvard University, graduate student)
Duke Ellington on Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue
Bañagale looked at the Ellington-Gershwin relationship and discussed the three different arrangements of Rhapsody in Blue performed by Ellington during his career. Ellington played Rhapsody in Blue at least as early as 1925 and recorded it in 1962 as part of the Recollections of the Big Band Era sessions. [DEMS 90/3-6]
Bill Saxonis (Independent Scholar, Albany NY)
Ellington’s Sophisticated Folk Music
My presentation explored the connection between the work of Duke Ellington and American folk music, including its links to Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, and especially Bob Dylan. The creative process Ellington and Dylan applied to their musical craft was uncovered by examining their compositional style, sources of inspiration, attitudes toward recording, views of life, and skills for coping with the demands of celebrity. The research offered surprising similarities and revealed fascinating insights into the inner workings of the two musical giants. In this presentation, I used excerpts from interviews I recorded with John Lamb and Buster Cooper during Ellington 2008 in London. (About two weeks after London, I played these interviews, along with an interview with Bob Wilber, on my tenth annual Duke Ellington radio special on Bill McCann’s Saturday Morning Edition of Jazz on WCDB in Albany NY.) The presentation also gave me a chance to pay tribute to the great drummer and man, Louie Bellson, who died about eight weeks before the conference.
Mark Lomanno (University of Texas, graduate student)
Reflection or Refraction?: (Re)constructing and (Re)narrating through Ellington’s Far East Suite
Lomanno offered an examination (reflection or refraction) of how Ellington’s Far East Suite was interpreted by Anthony Brown with the Asian American Orchestra on a 1999 recording and on Tony Overwater’s 2008 recording with the Calefax Reed Trio. [DEMS 99/5-20/1 and 05/2-35]
James Fidlon (University of Texas, graduate student)
The “Ellington Effect”: Towards a Definition
The presentation focused on how the music and personnel associated with the band during the period between 1927 and 1945 contributed to what Billy Strayhorn termed the “Ellington effect.”
Marc Bolin (University of California, Los Angles, graduate student)
Realizing the Duke: An Arranger’s Perspective
Alisa White (Indiana University, graduate student)
Bullets and Boudoirs: Women as Danger in Duke Ellington’s Queenie Pie
These presentations provided background and insights into the conference theme, Ellington’s opera Queenie Pie. Bolin provided the orchestral arrangements for the May 2008 Oakland Opera Theater’s production of Queenie Pie. His talk provided insights into his work and some of the obstacles to making the production a reality (e.g., copyright issues, filling the gaps in the score). Bolin is studying at UCLA under guitar legend and Ellington champion Kenny Burrell and I was pleased that upon meeting him he extended greeting from my friend Kenny.
White’s presentation focused on the portrayal of the female characters in Queenie Pie. These characters and their relationships to each other were often much more complex than what would appear on the surface.
David Henderson (New England Conservatory of Music, graduate student)
The Liberian Suite and Ellington’s Expanding Musical Language
Henderson focused on Ellington’s experimentation with the possibilities of a single, four-note chromatic motif or cell in 1947’s Liberian Suite. He marvelled at how Ellington “makes the most out of very little.”
Catherine Tackley (Open University, Milton Keynes, UK, lecturer )
Art or Debauchery? : The Initial Reception of Ellington in the UK
This presentation assessed, from a British point of view, the social, cultural, and musical impact of Ellington’s 1933 tour of Britain. A focus was on Ellington’s challenge of meeting the high expectations of the tour organizers (notably Jack Hylton and Spike Hughes), but also on a need to entertain the general public.
Allana Radecki (Indiana University, professor)
Moving the Music: Jazz Dance and Duke Ellington
Radecki explained how Ellington’s compositional style and imagination were energized by dance. A highlight of the presentation was an excerpt from her oral history interviews with Bunny Briggs. Bunny was the tap dancer on David Danced Before the Lord from Ellington’s Concert of Sacred Music. Radecki revealed that Mr. Briggs was reluctant to participate in the Sacred Concert, because as a devoted Roman Catholic he had concerns about the appropriateness of dancing at the altar. In addition to performances of Sacred Concerts, Bunny appeared with Duke and the band, but usually these appearances were limited to extended engagements because Bunny didn’t like air travel. Racecki also treated us to a sample of her own dance virtuosity.
Garrett Michaelsen (Indiana University, graduate student)
Ellington the Improviser: Group Interaction in the Money Jungle Recordings
This presentation contrasts two recordings from the Money Jungle session: Fleurette Africaine and Money Jungle. The former as an example where the muses of the musicians were “one and the same” and the latter as a display of “palpable music friction between the performers.” The paper was not a traditional examination of the music but rather an academic examination of “interactive convergence and divergence.”
Michael Baumgartner ( University of British Columbia, graduate student)
“East St. Louis Toodle-Oo”: Anatomy of a Song
Baumgartner focused on the influences, genesis, recording, scores, and reception of one of Ellington’s best early compositions, East St. Louis Toodle-Oo including the role of trumpeter Bubber Miley and the significance of the many takes of the song (22), including the unissued recordings Ellington made between November 1926 and February 1932.
Anthony Bushard (University of Nebraska, professor )
Duke Ellington’s Far East Suite: An “Historical” Concert
The multi media presentation supplemented the Ellington’s Far East Suite when it was performed at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln by the University Jazz Ensemble. In the November 2007 concert performances, the multimedia presentation was interspersed between movements to provide insight into Ellington’s compositional inspirations as well as how effectively the music captured the people and places Ellington encountered on his 1963 tour of the Middle East.
Andrew Berish (University of South Florida, professor)
Traveling the “Air Conditioned Jungle”: The Duke Ellington Orchestra and the City
Berish discussed the 1946 composition, Air Conditioned Jungle, Duke Ellington’s collaboration with clarinet virtuoso Jimmy Hamilton. He focused on Ellington’s ability to evoke the sounds of the urban American city without obvious sonic references such as honking cars and screeching trains.
Felix Cox ( East Carolina University, professor)
Duke Ellington’s Compositions for Paul Whiteman
The research focused on the compositions Paul Whiteman commissioned to Ellington: Blue Belles of Harlem (1938) and Bluetopia (1944) including performances under the direction of both Whiteman and Ellington. (Unfortunately Mr. Cox was unable to attend Echoes of Ellington, though he shared material from the presentation with conference participants.)
3. The Music
The University of Texas Jazz Orchestra, under the direction of faculty members Jeff Hellmer and John Mills, performed an all Ellington program at the School’s Bates Recital Hall (Thursday evening, April 16). The orchestra offered an eclectic blend of Ellington spanning five decades including the popular and obscure. I was pleased to hear two of my favorite lesser known works, Magnolias Dripping with Molasses from the Deep South Suite and Blue Rose written for the 1956 album of the same name featuring Rosemary Clooney and Duke Ellington and the Orchestra.
The ambitious program “Ellington: Past and Present” was played with youthful enthusiasm, respect, and excellent musicianship. Here is the list of the concert’s selections:
Jack the Bear
Rockin’ In Rhythm
Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue
(3) Selections from the Far East Suite:
Tourist Point of View
Magnolias Dripping with Molasses
Overture from Queenie Pie
In a Sentimental Mood
Just Squeeze Me
I Got It Bad
A Brief Background
Duke Ellington left behind evidence that he was entertaining thoughts of composing an opera as early as the 1930’s and we know that Queenie Pie was one of Duke’s last projects. He was working on the opera just days before his death of cancer in the Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York on May 24, 1974. The story of Queenie Pie did not end with Duke‘s death. The opera was performed several times and in different forms from 1983 through this year (2009) at the University of Texas. The history of Queenie Pie is another intriguing story in the Ellington legacy.
The opera’s plot revolves around Queenie Pie who had been voted the best beautician - cosmetologist for the past 10 years, but is suddenly facing a serious challenge from the aggressive and younger Café Olay. After various twist and turns, including a shooting, and a voyage to an uncharted island that is home to a magic formula “for everlasting anythingness,” Queenie Pie is confronted with decisions about what is important in life.
In creating Queenie Pie, Ellington was inspired by Madam C.J. Walker, who earned a fortune in the early 1900s by developing and marketing a successful line of beauty and hair products targeted to black women. The Guinness Book of Records cites Walker as the first female to become a millionaire by her own achievements. Considering the racial climate of the time, this achievement was even more remarkable for a black woman. Walker said, "I am a woman who came from the cotton fields of the South. From there I was promoted to the washtub. From there I was promoted to the cook kitchen. And from there I promoted myself into the business of manufacturing hair goods and preparations… I have built my own factory on my own ground.” Considering Ellington’s pride in achievement of black Americans and knowledge of black history, the selection of Madame Walker as an inspiration for Queenie Pie is not surprising.
Queenie Pie began to take form around 1970, when New York public television station WNET commissioned the opera as a one-hour television special. The concept of Queenie Pie was sold to the television executives as Ellington sat at the keyboard and charmingly explained the virtues of what he sometimes referred to as his “opera comique.” Duke had hoped Lena Horne would play Queenie Pie and he planned to assign himself to the role of narrator. Behind the scenes Maurice Peress and Betty McGettigan would play significant roles in helping Duke with this project. Mr. Peress, a highly respected conductor, worked with Ellington on the orchestrations and Ms. McGettigan, who worked for Duke from 1969 until his death in 1974 as writer /secretary, contributed to the libretto.
Despite having suffered a broken hip about two weeks before Echoes of Ellington, the 89-year old Betty McGettigan arrived in Austin from her home in California to help the University of Texas with the production and also found time to engage in a question and answer session with conference participants. I asked Betty how she was able to work on such an ambitious project as Queenie Pie considering Duke’s constant whirlwind of concerts, composing and recording. She explained that she frequently travelled with Duke and that “off times,” such as dinner, were often reserved for projects like Queenie Pie and Ellington’s autobiography Music is My Mistress. She marvelled at Duke’s work ethic, remarking, “He was always working, always composing.” As a man, she found him to be “extremely kind”… everyone loved Duke.” Betty did offer a bit of scandal likely to be new to even seasoned Ellington scholars. During Duke’s battle with cancer, Betty revealed that Duke didn’t always like to wear his hospital gown, causing “a problem” for the New York Presbyterian hospital nursing staff. She did not elaborate.
While Peress did not attend Echoes of Ellington, he has devoted a chapter to his experiences with Queenie Pie in his book Dvorak to Ellington. It is well worth reading. [See DEMS 04/2-18]
According to Peress, during the winter of 1973/74, WNET approved a budget for a demo tape of Queenie Pie, but sadly Duke died before the tape could be made. WNET concluded that without Ellington, the project was simply not worth pursuing. Professor Robert DeSimone of the University of Texas considered what Ellington left of Queenie Pie to be about 75 percent complete.
Queenie Pie disappeared from view. It seemed relegated to become a historical oddity about which scholars could wonder “what might have been” if Duke had lived long enough to complete his vision. But like most of Ellington’s music, Queenie Pie’s spirit never died. In 1983, Mercer Ellington (Duke’s son) received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to complete the score. The American Theater Festival in Philadelphia hired Peress to be the musical director, George Wolfe to recast the libretto, and George Weiss to supplement Ellington’s lyrics to accommodate the revised story. In 1986, the Ellington Orchestra, accompanied by singers and dancers, performed Queenie Pie to enthusiastic reviews. Time magazine declared that “For all the cooks, however, the broth is delicious … Queenie Pie is unmistakably the work of the grand Duke . . . Queenie Pie rings with authority.” Robert Palmer in the New York Times described the work as “a wonderfully vital and coherent work .. a superior evening’s entertainment ….” Palmer concluded his review by predicting that long after the present production, which was headed for the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, “Queenie Pie itself will endure.” Palmer was correct, but I suspect that Palmer expected that Queenie Pie would age more gracefully that it has. Plans were made to take the play to Broadway staring Patti LaBelle, but like so many promising productions, it never made it to the “Great White Way.”
More than seven years after the 1986 performance in Philadelphia, Mercer Ellington directed a concert version at the Brooklyn Academy of Music staring Melba Moore. Mercer took a different approach to the production than Peress and did not include the revisions from the Philadelphia version. The New York Times was disappointed, noting that Mercer Ellington “may have thought he was being true to his father, but Queenie Pie seemed stillborn here, its songs hyped up to compensate for wooden lyrics and scarcity of compositional imagination.”
Queenie Pie again faded from the public view for about 10 years until the Oakland Opera Theater embarked on revising the 1986 version. Unfortunately the score and libretto were declared missing despite an extensive search. Even boxes in Maurice Peress’ garage yielded nothing. The Oakland Opera Theater decided to try to recreate Queenie Pie as close to Ellington’s vision as possible, a daunting task considering it was left unfinished. Another complicating factor was that it was unclear who held the copyright to Ellington’s Queenie Pie. It took about 18 months to solve this problem. After some searching, it turned out that Sony held the copyright, and ultimately the entertainment giant gave its permission for Ellington’s material to be used in the production. The reviews of this version of Queenie Pie were generally positive, though some criticized it for being a bit uneven, not surprising when one considers the challenge facing those attempting to complete an unfinished work.
Queenie Pie at the University of Texas
Now it was the University of Texas’s turn to breathe life into Queenie Pie. Three University of Texas music professors, Jeff Hellmer, John Mills, and Robert DeSimone, working with Betty McGettigan, also wanted to come as close to what they thought was Ellington’s vision. This version in two acts, about 75 minutes long, was more of a revue and likely closer to Duke’s concept for the one-hour television special. The version we heard in Texas appears to be the shortest version of the productions to date.
The musical numbers included not only music composed specifically for Queenie Pie, but Ellington compositions such as the classic Creole Love Call, Second Line from the New Orleans Suite, and New York, New York (not to be confused with the Kander and Ebb’s 1977 piece made famous by Frank Sinatra) written in 1972 when Ellington was the host of New York City’s “Summer Festival.”
Queenie Pie Musical Numbers:
New York, New York
Café Au Lait
The Wonderful Hair Grower Commercial
Creole Love Call
My Father’s Island
My Father’s Island
Sure Do Miss New York
Full Moon at Midnight
Smile As You Go By
Don’t Need Nobody Now
Won’t You Come Into My Boudoir
The production brought together student performers from the University of Texas and the nearby Huston-Tillotson University. The special guest star in the production was Carmen Bradford. Ms. Bradford was discovered by Count Basie and performed with his band for nine years including on two Basie recordings that earned Grammy awards.
This was my first exposure to Queenie Pie so I can’t compare this version to the previous reincarnations of the unfinished work. Equally interesting, because most of the music was new to my ears, I couldn’t compare most of the performances to the Ellington recordings as a benchmark. I am not a professional music citric, but I do know what I like. I liked Queenie Pie. If you were expecting to see a well crafted story you would be disappointed. The Butler School’s Professor DeSimone conceded that the plot is really “a thin thread of a story… there is no real character development.” Clearly, the highlight of the evening was Ellington’s music along with the choreography, both magnificently performed. The talent on the stage was amazing, from the highly acclaimed Carmen Bradford, to the youngest undergraduate.
Here is what Jeanne Claire van Ryzin music critic for the major Austin daily newspaper (Austin American-Statesman) had to say about the performance: “the UT (University of Texas) creative team smartly didn’t try to overwrite or add to what Ellington and McGettigan left behind, patchy as the plot may be. Instead, this iteration of ‘Queenie Pie’ played like a two-act, 75-minute revue, songs strung together with a little bit of narrated plot or dialogue in between and singers and big band presented as if the stage of UT’s McCullough Theatre were that of a Harlem jazz club. And really, who needed a fleshed out plot when Ellington’s music did it all?”
As the final note of Queenie Pie evaporated into the night, Echoes of Ellington ended. By all accounts the conference was a success, both the music and the words. It was difficult not to be enthusiastic about the young and talented speakers and musicians that dedicated themselves to Ellington and the conference. Considering it has been around 35 years since Ellington passed away, most of the students would not have been alive during Ellington’s lifetime. The lesson of the conference was actually very simple: Ellington’s message is timeless and the quality of the music endures. The fact that a major university would devote so much attention to Ellington is certainly evidence of the lasting quality of his music or as Kenny Burrell put it so succinctly, “Ellington is forever.”
Queenie Pie CD
This fall the University of Texas plans to release a recording of Queenie Pie featuring Carmen Bradford on Longhorn Records. I have not seen an official release date, but the price is $15.00. More information can be obtained by writing:
Butler School of Music
1 University Station, E3100
Austin, Texas 78712
"Ellingtonia: The Recorded Music of Duke Ellington and His Sidemen"
compiled by Willie Timner, fifth edition, “Studies in Jazz, No. 54”.
Published by Scarecrow Press, Inc.
1. The Fifth Edition of W.E. Timner's "Ellingtonia: The Recorded Music of Duke Ellington and His Sidemen" was published in 2007. In the 11 years that elapsed between the publication of his fourth edition and the appearance of this one, many previously unknown recordings surfaced, and much fresh discographical research became available thanks in large measure to DEMS and its contributors.
As with the previous editions of this work, the main listing of Ellington recordings is followed by a separate section devoted to non-Ellington recordings that feature Ellington's sidemen. This useful feature isn't found in any other work.
2. Recordings are listed chronologically, also dates, studio locations (where known), the name of the groups as they appeared on the labels of the original issues, the initials of the musicians and vocalists, matrix numbers and song titles, which Timner tells us "are spelled as they have appeared on the record label of the original release."
3. Timer's fifth edition, 657 pages in length, is published by the Scarecrow Press, Inc. (www.scarecrowpress.com) and is another in the fine series "studies in jazz" which is overseen by General Editors Dan Morgenstern and Edward Berger of the Institute of Jazz Studies. The book appears in two formats, hard cover and soft cover. Willie Timner graciously sent me a complimentary copy in soft cover form. The front cover has unfortunately already curled up, so those who think they might subject this work to regular use are advised to order a hard cover copy.
4. While Timner identifies the various original labels of release (abbreviated to two or three letters), he omits catalog numbers, for which reason this work cannot be considered a discography, for while it is a list of recordings, it isn't a list of records.
5. Timner informs us that "there are a few fine discographies available on the market where this information can be found. These would presumably include the discographies he acknowledges in his introduction: The New DESOR (excellent, and the only one he mentions that covers Ellington's entire career, but the printing was limited to 500 sets, and they're not easily available) [see note at the very end of 09/2-4]; Rust's Jazz and Ragtime Records 1897-1942, sixth edition (the Ellington section has many errors, however); Nielsen's Jazz Records 1942-80 Vol. 6 (Ellington) (again, not easily available); and Benny Aasland's Wax Works of Duke Ellington (1954, 1978, 1979) (these are long out-of-print, and in any case outdated). As I figure it, there's only one fine discography available that covers Ellington's entire career: The New DESOR, but it's not available in bookstores. Taking that into account, I think it's a pity Timner didn't take this opportunity to include the catalog numbers of the original issues alongside the two or three letter abbreviations with which he indicates the original labels of release. This work would then be a bonafide discography and it wouldn't have extended the length of the book at all.
Timner has greatly expanded the number of session comments in this edition. Much of his new information is taken from various postings in DEMS, though the casual reader would have no way of knowing that, since none of his comments cite the source of his data. (In his introduction, Timner gives a perfunctory acknowledgement to DEMS.)
6. While Timner has taken advantage of recent research that has appeared in DEMS, he's overlooked some significant research that has appeared elsewhere. For example, while he identifies the non-Ellington arrangers when he can, he is apparently unaware of Walter Van de Leur's superb book on Strayhorn, which lists all recordings arranged by Strayhorn based on the evidence of the original music manuscripts. This data would have been most useful. As for the research that has appeared in DEMS in recent years, he's overlooked much. One example: DEMS readers may recall that in bulletin 03/2 (p6), I noted that metals survive in the BMG vaults of BS-07083-1A The "C" Jam Blues (21Jan42) and BS-07483-1A A Slip of the Lip (Can Sink a Ship) (28Jul42), and noted that "waxes suffixed -1 and -1A were cut simultaneously; they are recordings of the same take; the same remarks apply to -2 and -2A, etc.," yet Timner's footnotes state that these takes were "for reasons unknown...not included in the centennial edition." Obviously, they weren't included because the takes are musically identical to the common ones, a point that apparently escaped Timner’s understanding.
7. Looking over the first page in Timner's chronological section, I note that had he paid closer attention to the piece on Blu-Disc that appeared in DEMS 04/3-57, he would have learned that the Blu-Disc and Up-to-Date sessions were likely cut at the Emerson Recording Labs (without offering evidence, Timner suggests these might have been recorded at the Plaza studios), and that Pennington 11437-A wasn't credited to Chick Winters Orchestra as he claims, while (see DEMS 05/1-30) Florence Bristol's session was likely recorded in January 1925.
8. Looking further at the first page in the chronological section, exact dates are given for Ellington's first two Pathe/Perfect sessions: 25Sep25 and 26Mar26. As the company's files for this period are long lost, I can only conclude that these dates are false. Timner also shows an exact date, 28Mar28, for the band's March 1928 Pathe/Perfect session which I find equally incredible. (Note that the day of the month in each case matches the last two digits of the year in which the session was recorded...)
9. I confess I have a problem with Timner's work, and that is the non-transparency of his scholarship. In his fourth edition, Timner gave exact dates for the surviving Congress Hotel broadcasts, noting "I have tapes of both events, with dates and location from a very reliable source. This coincides with NBC bc information in my hands for both dates." When I asked Timner to cite his source for these dates which I've been unable to independently verify, he replied "even if it infuriates Lasker, I am not going to reveal my sources who have asked for confidentiality."
10. Timner, in his fourth edition, dates one group of titles (Stompy Jones, In a Sentimental Mood, My Old Flame, Cotton and Harlem Speaks) to 9May36; this date is corrected to 8May36 in the new edition. However, the titles Ellington played on his 8May36 broadcast are known by reference to the NBC bc logs (held at the Library of Congress; research data courtesy of Ken Steiner) and to Bob Inman's scrapbook ("Swing Era Scrapbook: The Teenage Diaries & Radio Logs of Bon Inman, 1936-1938," compiled by Ken Vail, published in 2005 by the Scarecrow Press, and HIGHLY!!!! recommended) and they were: Jumpy (aka Chatterbox), Merry-Go-Round, Echoes of Harlem, Oh Babe! Maybe Someday and Clarinet Lament.
11. In his fourth edition, Timner dated another group of titles (East St. Louis Toodle-O, Stompy Jones, Clarinet Lament and Showboat Shuffle) to 26May36, but in his fifth edition, these titles are dated to 23May36. According to Ken Steiner, Ellington did make a broadcast from the Congress Hotel on this date, but only to the West Coast, for which reason no data on this broadcast was preserved in the NBC broadcast logs (which document East Coast broadcasts only).
12. In his latest edition, Timner lists a third group of titles (Clarinet Lament, Hyde Park, My Old Flame-vIA, Showboat Shuffle, The Scene Changes, Oh Babe! Maybe Someday-vIA and Echoes of Harlem) which I didn’t know survived. Marvelous news--if true...but these titles weren't broadcast on 16May36 as Timner reports, but rather on 17May36, the true date established by reference to the NBC bc logs and, again, Bob Inman's scrapbook. (Question for Timner: Have you actually heard this broadcast, and can you report the structure and solo routines in the New DESOR manner?) Incidentally, Ken Steiner promises to share the NBC data on the Congress Hotel broadcasts that he obtained from the Library of Congress in the next issue of DEMS. [It’s in this issue, 09/2-6 — Ed]
13. Obviously, scholarship is most trustworthy when it's supported by actual evidence. Timner's disinclination to cite any sources for his scholarly comments--or to answer a challenge--is distressing, as are the large number of errors found in his work. Some of these will be discussed below. (My remarks focus on the years 1923-42, the years which I've researched most closely.)
14. Timner tells us "the headings for each session are as given on the original labels." However, he has neglected to tell us that anytime the article "and" appears in an artist's credit (as, for example, "Duke Ellington and His Orchestra"), he has substituted an ampersand ("&"). A few of the artist's credits he cites are inaccurate; e.g., Columbia's 78s for Ellington's session of 22Mar27 (p2) were actually credited to "Duke Ellington and His Washingtonians," rather than to "The Washingtonians" as Timner shows.
15. Timner's personnel listings are highly accurate--with a few exceptions. That's Fred Guy on the Blu-Disc sides, not George Francis; the vocalists on the 25oct29 session are Greer and Williams, not Jenkins, but Jenkins is the vocalist on Goin' Nuts, not Harold Randolf as Timner lists. For some inexplicable reason, the vocalist on the sessions of 30oct28, 10Nov28 and 15Nov28 is listed as Goodie Goodwin, and the vocalist on the session of 29Jan30 as Sunny Smith; the vocalist is in each case Irving Mills. On the session of 30Apr35, the drummer is Sonny Greer, not Fred Avendorph.
16. Recording dates are mostly correct, exceptions being the three Pathe/Perfect sessions mentioned above, and Ellington's version of Beer Barrel Polka which Timner dates to February 1939, but which clearly originates from his 24Nov39 CBS broadcast. And then there are those Congress Hotel broadcasts from 1936....
17. Where known, street addresses of recording studios are shown and are mostly accurate, but I wonder why the Blu-Discs and Up-to-Date sessions are shown as possibly recorded at Plaza, when all evidence that I've found indicates that they were recorded at Emerson. (Incidentally, Florence Bristol's one and only recording, issued on Up-to-Date, is erroneously listed as first released on Blu-Disc.) Also: Ellington's session of 10Sep29 was probably recorded at Cameo given the master numbers, yet Timner shows them as recorded at Pathe. And the ARC sessions of 29Jan30 and 10Jan31 were probably recorded at 114 E. 32nd Street; they were certainly not recorded at 1776 Broadway as shown by Timner (although Ellington's 1932-36 sessions in New York for ARC were all recorded at 1776 Broadway, as Timner correctly shows). The McGraw-Hill building was still under construction in March 1930 when Ellington recorded for Hit-of-the-Week...
18. Matrix numbers are almost entirely accurate, although he omits the "W" prefix from the sessions of 22Mar27, 4Apr29 and 28May29. Matrix 68232 from the session of 11Jun31 bears a "BVE" prefix rather than the "CVE" matrix that is shown. The Standard transcription discs from 1941 were 16-inches in diameter, so the correct matrix prefix is "PMS," not "PBS" as shown. Irrelevant matrix numbers are shown against titles from the films "Black and Tan" and "Check and Double Check" and V-Disc stamper numbers are shown as matrix numbers for some of the broadcasts from the War years. I would argue that these are similarly irrelevant. As for Kissin' My Baby Goodnight, although some 78s were erroneously stamped as being take one, all copies actually contain take two, the only take known to survive. (Timner incorrectly lists take one as issued.) And Timner neglects to mention that C886-2 from the session of 9Jan35 survives (see DEMS 88/5-1).
19. If I'm skeptical of Timner's claim that a test of Dry Long So take B from 15Feb40 is extant, it's partly because I've never encountered this take in any form, and the ledger indicates that only a single take, take A, was processed. A footnote to the session of 24Feb38 indicates that "the only known intact test pressing [of M770-1] is held by Steven Lasker." My test is of vinyl, and I would assume that a small quantity of intact tests, perhaps half a dozen or more, were pressed. (Not mentioned by Timner: the fact that I have several unreleased shellac tests of which no vinyl copies are known, and which I believe are unique.)
20. Portrait of the Lion mx. WM1006-2 (21Mar39) was first issued on French Swing, not Brunswick as Timner indicates.
Titles aren't necessarily listed as shown on the label of first release. East St. Louis Toodle-Oo is everywhere (except in the case of Harlem Twist from 19Jan28) listed by that spelling, and variant spellings are usually shown in footnotes--but not always accurately. (e.g.: in a footnote to the session of 29Nov26, Timner writes "Recte: East St. Louis Todalo; ... Toadle-O on the recording sheet; variant spelling East St. Louis Toddle-O"; in actuality, Vocalion's ledger sheet and the label of Vocalion 1064 both bear the title East St. Louis Toodle-O!
21. Washington Wabble is the title as it appears on the recording sheet and the label of the original Victor, but Timner lists it as Washington Wobble and adds a footnote that the title is "actually Washington Wabble."
22. Timner lists Tiger Rag from 8Mar37 as The Whispering Tiger; in my liner notes to the 2006 Mosaic Ellington small groups box, I explained that The Whispering Tiger arrangement wasn't recorded, but I don't know if Timner saw it. (Mx. 21188-1 from 20May37 was first released on the Mosaic box, yet Timner shows it as unreleased. On the other hand, Timner does correctly list the Echoes of Harlem rehearsals from 19Jan38 as originally released on Mosaic.) Timner automatically omits all parentheses from subtitles (and sometimes the contents that was found between the parentheses. Thus, It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got that Swing)--which is the correct title--is shown as It Don't Mean a Thing.
23. Small errors that might have been caught by a proof-reader who specializes in Ellingtonia abound. Some examples: That's not the Ellington band playing Three Little Words on the soundtrack of "Check and Double Check" (Aug. 1930), but we do hear a 15-second fragment of the Ellington version in the 1931 RKO feature film "Laugh and Get Rich," and an even longer fragment is heard in another 1931 RKO feature, "The Lady Refuses," a fact that was duly noted in DEMS [04/1-4]. (Oddly, though Timner doesn't mention "The Lady Refuses," he references the Roan DVD issue of the film as the track's original release!)
24. The Feb33 sessions for EMI are said to have been "produced exclusively for BMI," which was a performance agency formed in 1939.
25. In his introduction, Timner writes "The reader will notice a large number of footnotes mentioning that particular songs are derivatives of others. In the early years of the recording business, Jazz was an unregulated art form, shared by its performers, and melodies were freely borrowed and varied." Actually, copyrighted musical works were protected by the Copyright Act of 1909, which stayed in force during Ellington's lifetime; numerous copyright infringement suits were brought during Ellington's lifetime. As to the extent that one song is borrowed from another, Timner doesn't specify whether the borrowing is of a melody or of the basic changes, or if the borrowing is for an entire song, or merely a small segment, so his pronouncements must be taken with a grain of salt.
26. Timner writes that "this book does not claim to be the last word on this subject, but it will probably be mine." That being the case, how unfortunate that Willie didn't ask Sjef or myself to proof-read his manuscript, but instead set out like a lone wolf. Had he asked me for assistance, it would have been provided gladly and free of charge but with the proviso that transparency in scholarship be his golden rule.
While Timner's work may be as much as 98% accurate (Sjef estimates the rate of accuracy may be less than that), the 2% or so that's not will bother sticklers for accuracy, a description that fits those of us who regularly contribute to DEMS. But then, if we cared less about factual accuracy, would there even be a DEMS?
Sorry for the book with the curling soft cover, but Scarecrow has reduced the number of author's copies of the book from 20 to 5, which didn't give me much choice. Rest assured, they are all curling.
I think I have made it perfectly clear that my book is neither a discography nor a list of records, but rather a list of recordings made by Duke Ellington and his sidemen. I don't understand why Steven is still fussing about this. I could have added the catalog numbers of the records, but I have chosen not to. The question was never raised and contrary to Lasker's opinion, it would have taken up more space. The printers at Scarecrow had problems with the format as is, that's why they had to reduce the text block and we ended up with the blank space on top of each page. Also I was working against a deadline, with a serious health problem in the family at the same time. In my acknowledgements I did mention DEMS twice: In conjunction with its founder, Benny Aasland and as issuer of the quarterly Bulletins. If that is perfunctory I have treated all other sources/contributors even more perfunctorily. So far I haven't heard any complaints.
Coming to the factual comments regarding the content of the book, I can only say that Steven Lasker is probably right in many points. I accept that readily, because he is the leading authority with all the documentation at his disposal and his research is known to be sound. I wish he would put his superb knowledge on paper and write the definitive discography, and if it only covers the years 1923 to 1942.
I am in a bad position to argue right now, because I had to discard all my records and documents after completing the book. (The "confidential" tapes Lasker is still musing about have been destroyed by me.)
However, here are a few points I would like to make right now: The fact that Goody Goodwin and Sunny Smith are pseudonyms used by Irving Mills is mentioned at the bottom of page XXII and also in the Index of Artists. Steven's comments on session 16/17 May 36 don't make sense. Something is missing here. A word, a line? The question Greer or Avendorph is not solved in my opinion. Greer himself said that he was not present. Did Ellington call for Avendorph because he sounded like Greer? As for the other items, I will try to explain my position in good time, which will be difficult, since I have to rely mostly on my memory. The two weeks until 1 August I'm afraid are not sufficient for that (it took Lasker almost 2 years to write his comments).
I appreciate the work Steven Lasker has put into this project and I hope it was not in vain.
NOTE: The New DESOR is still available. There are still a few copies left. The price is now € 95.- for the two books, excluding mailing expenses. This is a discount of 40% compared to the original price. You can contact Luciano Massagli at his home address: Foro Buonaparte, 52; 20121 Milano, Italy. His e-mail address is< firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Duke Ellington, James P. Johnson, and the Birth of Concert Jazz
(University of Michigan Press, 2009; 340 pages, soft cover $28.95)
See DEMS 09/1-10
Imagine the thoughts going through Duke Ellington’s mind when he first heard George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. The 24-year old Ellington had been in New York for less than a year when the Paul Whiteman Orchestra premiered this paramount work of symphonic jazz at Aeolian Hall on 12 February 1924 (with Gershwin himself at the piano). The Washingtonians, engaged at the Hollywood one-half block from Broadway, were in the process of deposing Elmer Snowden and pressing their pianist into leadership. Ellington was the logical choice. He had helped the Washingtonians land the Hollywood gig in the late summer of 1923, while living at Leonard Harper’s apartment and working as Harper’s rehearsal pianist. The prodigious Harper produced four or more revues at a time, and employed hundreds of African American singers, dancers and musicians. According to Sonny Greer, when Harper offered Ellington his choice of work at Connie’s Inn in Harlem, or the Hollywood, Ellington chose the gig near Times Square at the center of the music and entertainment industry. At the Hollywood, the Washingtonians backed a Leonard Harper-produced revue studded with stars of black vaudeville and cabarets including Johnny Hudgins, Adah Ward, Greenlee and Drayton, and Viola McCoy. In addition to the two shows per night, the Washingtonians played music for dancing, and made the Hollywood the after-hours spot for “jazz boys,” including Paul Whiteman (engaged at the Palais Royale a block and a half away), who according to Variety’s Abel Green, would gather “past dawn…drinking in their indigo modulations.” As early as November 1923, Ellington was reported contributing his own compositions to the revues. At some point during the stay at the Hollywood (or Club Kentucky as it was renamed when it re-opened in February 1925), Ellington began work on his first lengthy piece, Rhapsody Jr.
In a welcome addition to the Ellington literature, Ellington Uptown: Duke Ellington, James P. Johnson and the Birth of Concert Jazz, Dr. John Howland offers a fresh analysis of Duke Ellington’s and James P. Johnson’s “extended” works, demonstrating that they can be better understood in the context of the world of popular entertainment, and in particular, a nearly-forgotten hybrid form of “entertainment” and “serious” music known as “symphonic jazz.” Symphonic jazz, which peaked in the years 1926-30, was characterized by “heightened theatricality” with “‘sophisticated’ introductions, interludes, and codas,” “unexpected modulations and dramatic cadenzas” and “rich programmatic themes.” This hybrid form both influenced, and was influenced by, “an unusual cultural breadth” - the complex and inter-related world of popular music during the inter-war era of the 1920s and 30s, of vaudeville, musicals, floor shows, broadcasts, film music, and more. The author has a special interest in the music performed by orchestras in grand movie theatres as part of the prologue show. (I am personally grateful to Dr. Howland for generously sharing his collection of the Roxy Theatre Weekly Review, which contained Lee Posner’s “Harlemania” columns and Cotton Club advertisements from 1929-31.)
The acerbic scribe H.L. Mencken would ask in a 1927 New York Tribune column, “Why did the Negro composer wait for George Gershwin to do his Rhapsody in Blue? Why, indeed, did he wait for Paul Whiteman to make jazz a serious matter?” The answer, argues Howland, was that African Americans already had. Further, Duke Ellington and James P. Johnson, would transcend the vogue for “symphonic jazz,” and create what Howland terms “concert jazz:” enduring music rooted in African American musical idioms intended for listening. In Ellington’s case, “symphonic” was a term of prestige and marketing, as well as a description of his music as serious, programmatic, intended for listening, and worthy of praise from the Classical world.
There was plenty of encouragement – and precedent – for such “serious” music. Howland opens his book by describing the rich entertainment and music community that attracted Ellington to New York, and the generation of Will Marion Cook, James Reese Europe, Will Vodery, and W.C. Handy--along with a younger group including Willie “the Lion” Smith, James P. Johnson, and Luckey Roberts--who laid the groundwork for Ellington. Howland recounts Cook’s early works including Clorindy, the first black musical; the Memphis Students, a 1905 20 piece entertainment troupe and orchestra; his American Syncopated Orchestra which performed concert music in 1919; and desire to create a concert music that Cook may have communicated to Ellington during their cab rides in Central Park. Vodery, too, mentored the younger Harlem musicians and helped Duke land the gig in Flo Ziegfeld’s “Show Girl.” Handy, whose Memphis Blues Band arrived in New York in 1917, helped bring blues into the New York music scene; Handy’s Orchestra presented James P. Johnson’s Yamekraw at Carnegie Hall in 1928. Earlier than Handy, James Reese Europe led an orchestra of over 150 pieces in concert at Carnegie Hall in 1912, 13 and 14. (Apparently not known to Howland: Brooks Kerr recalls being told by Ellington that he heard and met “maestro” Europe in the District of Columbia prior to Europe’s untimely death in 1919.) With the subsequent decline of Europe’s Clef Club, and the arrival of the ODJB in New York, African American pre-jazz dance bands were largely eclipsed by the emergence of white bands. Ellington and Johnson carried the aspirations of the older generation. As “Dad” Cook wrote to Johnson, “Strive for originality of themes, forms, and development of ideas.”
“Jazz” meant many things in the 1920s, most of which we would not likely consider jazzy today. With no irony intended, Paul Whiteman was dubbed the “King of Jazz.” (With irony intended, Dizzy Gillespie would later joke that “Paul WHITEman wasn’t the King of Jazz--Don REDman was the King of Jazz!”) It was not until the 1930 that writers such as Winthrop Sargeant established a jazz canon, delineating what was authentic jazz (early critics cited Ellington’s music as a prime example) and what was not (the same critics dismissed Whiteman). Howland believes the resulting standard jazz narrative has obscured our view of Ellington, “who pursued a much broader entertainment career than is usually represented in the post-1930 jazz histories.” The author goes on to analyze the form and content of a number of Ellington’s (and James P. Johnson’s) extended or “serious” compositions and illustrates their foundation in stage productions. Likewise, stage productions took on a symphonic air. Although it is very hard to determine just what Ellington performed for the revues at the Cotton Club, Howland has located the Swanee River Rhapsody manuscript (the finale for the Blackberries of 1930 revue), a grand finale production number. Howland demonstrates that Symphony in Black, too, with its “vignettes …is rooted in Harlem revues.”
Compared to Ellington, James P. Johnson showed a “vision for concert jazz closer to musical-theater aspirations.” This review, intended for a journal dedicated to Duke Ellington’s music, only touches on the lesser-appreciated Johnson’s work that comprises one-third of Ellington Uptown. Howland shares a wealth of material culled from the James P. Johnson Collection at Rutgers’ Institute for Jazz Studies and the James P. Johnson Foundation, much of it new and an important contribution to the world of jazz research. A poignant example is James P. Johnson’s letter to writer James Weldon Johnson soliciting his support: “You will perhaps remember me….” (Howland’s discussion of the relationship between the “more high-brow” Harlem Renaissance intellectuals and Harlem entertainers is only one of many issues of race, class, and aesthetics that he addresses in this book). One of Howland’s aspirations in writing Ellington Uptown was to foster a renewed interest in the career and music of James P. Johnson; in this, I believe the author will surely succeed.
Ellington Uptown might well stimulate a renewed interest in Paul Whiteman as well. Howland discusses Whiteman’s long, complicated relationship with Ellington, a subject frequently mentioned in early Ellington publicity. Rhapsody Jr. and Bird of Paradise were published by Jack Robbins as part of Whiteman’s “American Music Series,” although not until 1935. Whiteman’s orchestra performed Creole Rhapsody, in which Howland outlines finds Ellington’s use of Whiteman arranger Ferde Grofé’s “development idea” – the use of “small motivic building blocks derived from a work’s thematic episodes.” Ellington took the idea further in Reminiscing in Tempo, which Howland considered his “first transformation of symphonic jazz episodic form.” (Howland’s musical examples are clear and a reader with a rudimentary knowledge of music can benefit). Blue Belles of Harlem, which Howland describes as the “most thorough merging of Whitemanesque form and the Ellington effect” resulted from a Whiteman commission for a performance at Carnegie Hall in 1938. Ellington’s series of Carnegie Hall concerts from 1943-51, modelled after Whiteman’s 1924-38 series, consisted of a program of medleys, hits, features for soloists, and the introduction of a new “serious” work. How Ellington might in turn has influenced Whiteman is a question I wish Howland had used his tools of musical analysis to consider. Ellington publicist Ned Williams recalled Whiteman and Grofé visiting the Cotton Club for a week and admitting “they couldn’t steal even two bars of the amazing music.” Bandleader Vincent Lopez, a Whiteman competitor, repeatedly professed his admiration of Ellington, and hired Ellington’s songwriting partner Jo Trent who according to the 17oct25 Baltimore Afro-American, “was in charge of the books of the Vincent Lopez Orchestra until that organization went abroad.”
Ellington’s first attempts at extended form, too, were based on Whitemanesque symphonic jazz models; later extended works were almost exclusively structured as suites. Black, Brown & Beige, explains Howland, was a synthesis of two different forms of extended jazz composition, and feels that in BB&B Ellington “transcends the symphonic [jazz] model.”
New World a Comin’, “a quasi-concerto for piano and jazz orchestra” first performed at Ellington’s second Carnegie concert, “gives the greatest ‘classical’ impression,” but “hardly follows the prescription of Classical-Romantic concerto music.” Howland considers Harlem to be “Ellington’s concert jazz masterwork.” As well as analyzing its form, Howland contrasts Harlem’s “tourist point of view” with a poem from Duke’s BB&B manuscript, and an 11-minute soliloquy from one of Duke’s candid interviews with Carter Harman (of which Howland makes good use) reveals bitterness over the Harlem night club scene and its decline.
Harlem and NWAC became the most frequently played works in Ellington’s “symphonic repertoire.” Luther Henderson, who did the scoring for strings for both works felt “Ellington wanted me to legitimize him in this society we call classical music.” However, in another of his Carter Harman interviews, Ellington emphasized that NWAC and Harlem “were complete in their original big band orchestrations.” Were these symphonic works merely “Ellington with Strings?”
The first hybrid arrangements for Ellington’s band and symphony were introduced at a concert with a summer version of the Philadelphia Orchestra at Robin Hood Dells on 25Jul49 with Grand Slam Jam (later known as Non-Violent Integration.) Ellington would play similar concerts for the rest of his career, often at “Pops” concerts of symphony orchestras. Howland considers the 16Mar55 performance of the (NBC) Symphony of the Air with Ellington conducting and Don Shirley on piano a “far more integral merging of African American jazz aesthetics with ‘symphonic’ scoring.” The classically-oriented Shirley told Howland, “It’s an insult to Johann Sebastian Bach to call [my good friend Duke Ellington] a composer.” The meaning of “composer” is one of many words that Howland addresses – and it has a different meaning in the jazz and Classical worlds. Three months after the Symphony of the Air performance, which Howland evidently considers a highlight in “symphonic Ellington,” Ellington’s career would soon hit what Ellington historians consider a commercial and artistic low – the Aquacade water show - with his depleted orchestra supplemented by strings. Howland doesn’t mention this gig, although this seems like a faded remnant of the symphonic jazz craze that peaked 25 years earlier, or that Ellington’s fortune would change a year later at Newport ‘56; when his Newport Suite was overshadowed by a revival of 1938’s symphonic Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue. Perhaps this is the whole point of Howland’s work? I am seeing Ellington’s work in a new light.
What happened to symphonic jazz? According to Howland, its influence can be detected through the years in many places such as Hollywood “crime jazz” of the 1950’s, or “glorified pop” such as string textured disco with strings, some psychedelic rock, “blaxploitation” film music of the 1970s, or today’s hip-hop--Jay-Z or Kanye West--with strings.
A tougher question is: what happened to concert jazz? It depends on what your definition of “concert jazz” is. Howland feels that Ellington’s longer works moved away from models based on symphonic jazz, to that of suites, which he terms “collections of disparate movements.” Togo Brava Suite, performed in concert, is not concert jazz? Are only lengthy or extended works considered concert jazz? How about Koko, which came in at two minutes or less when played outside the studio? And was this delineation, “concert jazz,” meaningful to Ellington? As early as Ellington’s 1925 winter tour of New England, dances were preceded by one-hour concerts, in a format that would be repeated often over the years that followed. And wasn’t all of Ellington’s music worthy of serious listening? Numerous reports of Ellington dances mention the devotees who would stand around the stage hanging on every note – and for them, the Casa Mañana was their Carnegie Hall. Moreover, didn’t Ellington prove that the music he wrote for stage revues and dance halls could also be worthy of the concert hall?
There are a few incorrect dates: Ellington’s arrival in New York was in 1923, not 1924 (p24, although correct elsewhere); Show Girl was in 1929, not 1928 (p41); Howland dates Creole Rhapsody to 1932 on page 159 (but to 1931 elsewhere; 1931 was the year of its first recording, although a NBC radio log listed in Bulletin 08/3-11 suggests the piece was composed in 1930 (see 23Dec30); Chocolate Kiddies dates to 1925, not 1923 (p159); Ellington’s break with Irving Mills was not until 1939, not 1938 (p160). These differences are not substantive but could have been avoided by having a DEMS member read the draft. A reference to a William Morris press-kit located at the Smithsonian is curious. Publicity material lauding “Ellington’s genius as a composer,” and the format of the press-kit, match an Irving Mills press-kit (likely written by Ned Williams) from 1933. Perhaps this William Morris press-kit was misidentified, or did the William Morris Agency use the Mills material?
Howland’s great accomplishment is to illuminate Ellington and Johnson’s work in the context of the world of symphonic jazz and jazz-related entertainment.
The author hopes that most of the music discussed in Ellington Uptown will be heard – both in live performances and from greater availability on CD. A list of those recordings would be very beneficial and perhaps DEMS will be able to assist in this regard. Howland sees hope for our time, when both Classical and jazz audiences are dwindling, in looking at symphonic jazz’s mildly irreverent mix. This is just one of many issues Howland takes on in Ellington Uptown. Howland’s book is densely packed; he thinks out loud as he sifts through a vast amount of material. I hope I have given a fair account of the author’s intentions. Like me, you might find yourself going over portions. Ellington Uptown is worth reading. Twice.
COTTON CLUB BROADCASTS ON NBC — 1932 - 1933
See DEMS 09/1-18
Recent research in NBC log books held at the Library of Congress reveals song titles of Duke Ellington’s 1930-31, 1932, and 1933 broadcasts from the Cotton Club. The 1931 broadcasts were listed in DEMS 08/3-11. A search of NBC’s Master Books, the network’s official record of the broadcast day, located four Ellington broadcasts from the band’s brief February 1932 engagement, and 33 from their 9Mar-30May33 stay. Log books, with “Corrected Traffic Sheets” for each program, listing song titles and other details, were found for all of those programs. Song titles were either handwritten or typed, and are shown here as they appear in NBC’s master books. Some of the logs are difficult to read, and are listed as best could be deciphered. An asterisk (*) indicates a tune not known to have been commercially recorded by Ellington before 1943. [The comments in square brackets were added by Steven Lasker.]
After departing the Cotton Club one year earlier (3Feb31), Ellington returned from the road to the Cotton Club for a short time. New York daily newspapers advertised that Duke Ellington’s “limited engagement” at the Cotton Club would begin 5Feb32. As is often the case, the advertised “Opening Night” differed from the actual first night of the engagement: the first broadcast over NBC was on 1Feb. Closing date is uncertain, but it could not have been later than 10Feb, since the Mills Blue Rhythm Band broadcast from the club on 11Feb. During this short stay in New York, Ellington recorded for Brunswick (2, 4 and 11Feb) and Victor (3 and 9Feb), and also doubled at the Brooklyn Paramount Theater (5-11Feb). The orchestra departed for San Francisco on 12Feb.
Monday, February 1, 1932, WEAF and NBC Red 11:45-12:00 mid
Signature – East St. Louis Toodles; [When It’s] Sleepy Time Down South*; Limehouse Blues; Mood Indigo; It Don’t Mean a Thing; Signature – East St. Louis Toodles
Thursday, February 4, 1932, WEAF and NBC Red 11:45-12:00 mid
Its Glory; Creole Love Call; Some of these days*; Echoes of the Jungle
Friday, February 5, 1932; WJZ and NBC Blue 12:00 mid -12:15 am
Signature – St. Louis Toodledoo; Dinah; Blue Tune; Blues In My Heart* [Benny Carter’s tune]; Signature – St. Louis Toodledoo
Crossed out: It Don’t Mean a Thing
Monday, February 8, 1932, WEAF and NBC Red 11:45-12:00 mid
Signature – St. Louis Toodle Doo; Stardust*; Awful Sad; Lot of Fingers; Black and Tan Fantasy
MARCH – MAY 1933
While details for Ellington’s first trip to Europe were being worked out, Ellington played what would be his last engagement at the Uptown Cotton Club. New York dailies advertised opening night for 12Mar33, but the 7Mar33 Variety report that Ellington “steps into the Cotton Club here this Thursday (9) replacing Cab Calloway [in the 21st Cotton Club Parade], who goes on tour” is confirmed by a NBC broadcast 9Mar. A new revue, the 22nd Cotton Club Parade, opened 16Apr featuring Ethel Waters, with book and score by Ted Koehler and Harold Arlen. Arlen himself was listed as a vocalist on the 13Apr broadcast; presumably it was he who sang his own Stormy Weather. In addition to these midnight broadcasts over WEAF, WJZ and the NBC networks, late night radio listings in the Brooklyn Eagle indicate Ellington was also broadcasting nightly at 2:00 am over WMCA. The entire Cotton Club revue also performed at the Roseland Ballroom on 22Apr and the Capitol Theatre 26May-1Jun. Selections from the revue were recorded for Brunswick 9May (Happy as the Day is Long; Raisin’ the Rent; Get Yourself a New Broom) and 16May (Stormy Weather, and Bundle of Blues which was recorded and filmed on 23May). Ellington closed at the Cotton Club 31May33 and sailed for England two days later.
Thursday, March 9, 1933, WEAF and NBC Red 12:00 mid -12:30 am
Signature – East St. Louis Toodle; My Darling* from Vanities; Limehouse Blues; Sophisticated Lady; It Don’t Mean A Thing (Ivy Anderson); Ducky Wucky; Milenberg Joys*; Mood Indigo
Friday, March 10, 1933, WEAF and NBC Red 12:00 mid -12:30 am
Its Glory; Blue Tune; Bugle Call Rag; Creole Love Call; Fit as a Fiddle* (Ivy Anderson); Sophisticated Lady; Lightnin’; Swanee Lullaby* [a White-Koehler composition recorded by Cab Calloway and his Orchestra on 7Jun32]
Tuesday, March 14, 1933, WJZ and NBC Blue 12:00 mid -12:30 am
Signature – St. Louis Toodle Oo; Dinah; Drop Me Off at Harlem; The Sheik; Rockin in Rhythm; Stevedore Stomp; Night and Day* from “Gay Divorce”; Ring Dem Bells from “Black and Tan Fantasy” [????!]; Sophisticated Lady; Signature – St. Louis Toodle Oo
Vocalists: Sonny Greer, Charles Williams
Thursday, March 16, 1933, WEAF and NBC Red 12:05-12:30 am
Signature – East St. Louis Toodle Oo; 142nd and Lenox Ave. [Merry Go Roind]; Sophisticated Lady; I Heard* (Ivy Anderson) [Don Redman’s tune]; Echoes of the Jungle; Old Man River* (Sonny Greer); Signature – East St. Louis Toodle Oo
Crossed out: Fast and Furious; Rose Room; Three Little Words from Check and Double Check
Friday, March 17, 1933, WJZ and NBC Blue 12:15-12:30 am
Signature – East St. Louis Toodle Oo; Lightnin’; Mood Indigo; Milenberg Joys*; Sophisticated Lady; Signature – East St. Louis Toodle Oo
Crossed out: Double Check Stomp; Some of These Days*
Tuesday, March 21, 1933, WJZ and NBC Blue 12:00-12:30 am
Signature – East St. Louis Toodle Oo; Ring Dem Bells; Swanee Lullaby; I’ve Got the World on a String (Ivy Anderson); Drop Me Off in Harlem; Sophisticated Lady; Dinah (Sonny Greer – Chas. Williams);
Rag; Signature – East St. Louis Toodle Oo
Thursday, March 23, 1933, WEAF and NBC Red 12:05-12:30 am
Signature – East St. Louis Toodle Oo; Swing Low; Rose Room; Lightnin’;
Medley: You’ve Got Me Cryin’ Again*; Down a Carolina Lane*;
Some of These Days*; The Mooch; Twelfth Street Rag; Signature – East St. Louis Toodle Oo
Crossed out: I’ve Got the World On a String
Friday, March 24, 1933, WJZ and NBC Blue 12:00 mid -12:30 am
Signature – East St. Louis Toodle Oo; Jive Stomp; Creole Love Call; Rockin’ in Rhythm; Sophisticated Lady; It Don’t Mean a Thing; Black and Tan Fantasy; Lightnin’; Mood Indigo
Crossed out: Signature – East St. Louis Toodle Oo
Tuesday, March 28, 1933, WJZ and NBC Blue 12:00 mid -12:30 am
Signature – East St. Louis Toodle Oo; Louisiana Hayride* from “Flying Colors”; I’ve Got a Right to Sing the Blues* from “Vanities 1932”; Digga Digga Do; Ducky Wucky; A Tree Was a Tree*; Echoes of the Jungle; Hot and Bothered; Sophisticated Lady
Crossed out: Signature – East St. Louis Toodle Oo
Thursday, March 30, 1933, WEAF and NBC Red 12:00-12:30 am
Signature – East St. Louis Toodle Oo; The Duke Steps Out; Dreaming Sweet Dreams of Love [Note the variant title for Sweet Dreams of Love]; Fit as a Fiddle* (Ivy Anderson); Mama [Baby?], When You Ain’t There; Slippery Horn; Moon Song* from “Hello Everybody” (Sonny Greer); Every Tub [Hyde Park]; Signature – East St. Louis Toodle Oo
Crossed out: Sophisticated Lady
Friday, March 31, 1933, WJZ and NBC Blue 12:00 mid -12:30 am
Signature – East St. Louis Toodle Oo; Jig Walk*;
Medley: Willow, Weep for Me*; You Got Me Cryin’ Again*; Night and Day* from “Gay Divorcee”;
Doin the New Low Down from “Blackbirds”; Japanese Dreams; Jive Stomp; Sophisticated Lady; Just an Echo in the Valley* [According to Spike Hughes, the changes of this song gave rise to Harlem Speaks]; Mood Indigo; Signature – East St. Louis Toodle Oo
Tuesday, April 4, 1933, WJZ and NBC Blue 12:00 mid -12:30 am
Signature – East St. Louis Toodle Oo; Every Tub [Hyde Park]; Black Beauty; Nobody’s Sweetheart Now*; Sophisticated Lady; Rockin’ in Rhythm; I Must Have That Man from “Blackbirds of 1928”; Runnin’ Wild; Blue Ramble; Signature
Vocalists: Sonny Greer, Ivy Anderson
Thursday, April 6, 1933, WEAF and NBC Red 12:05-12:30 am
Signature – East St. Louis Toodle Oo; Say It Isn’t So* [Irving Berlin]; Blue Tune; Birmingham Breakdown; Sophisticated Lady; Lightning; Creole Love Call
Crossed out: It’s Glory; Black and Tan Fantasy; Signature
Friday, April 7, 1933, WJZ and NBC Blue 12:00 mid -12:30 am
Signature – East St. Louis Toodle Oo; Lime House Blues; Rose Room; Swing Low; St. Louis Blues; The Sheik [of Araby]; Milenberg Joys*; Signature
Crossed out: Sophisticated Lady
Tuesday, April 11, 1933, WEAF and NBC Red 12:00 mid -12:30 am
Signature – East St. Louis Toodle Oo; Slippery Horn
Medley: Have You Ever Been Lonely*; Try a Little Tenderness*; My Darling* from “Vanities 1932”
Bugle Call Rag; Sophisticated Lady; Jig Walk*; Black and Tan Fantasy; Stevedore Stomp; Awful Sad
Crossed out: Signature
Vocalist: Ivy Anderson
Thursday. April 13, 1933, WEAF and NBC Red 12:05-12:30 am
Signature – East St. Louis Toodle Oo; It’s Glory; Stormy Weather from “Cotton Club Parade”; Baby from “Blackbirds 1930”; Sophisticated Lady; Louisiana Hayride* from “Flying Colors”; Ducky Wucky; Whispering Tiger Rag; Signature
Crossed out: Blue Tune
Singers: Harold Arlen, Ivy Anderson
Friday, April 14, 1933, WJZ and NBC Blue 12:00 mid -12:30 am
Ellington, Cotton Club Orchestra, pre-empted by the Johnnie Johnson Orchestra, Hotel Pennsylvania.
Tuesday, April 18, 1933, WJZ and Blue 12:00 mid -12:30 am
Signature – East St. Louis Toodle-Oo; Hot and Bothered; Down a Carolina Lane*; China Boy*; Stormy Weather from “Cotton Club Parade”; Digga Digga Doo from “Blackbirds 1928”; Sophisticated Lady; Just an Echo in the Valley*; Swanee Lullaby* [a White-Koehler composition recorded by Cab Calloway and his Orchestra on 7Jun32]; Signature
Vocalist: Ethel Waters
Thursday, April 20, 1933, WEAF and NBC Red, 12:05-12:30 am
Signature – East St. Louis Toodle Oo; Whispering Tiger Rag; Stormy Weather from “Cotton Club Parade”; Shim Sham [Cotton Club Shim Sham or Merry Go Round ?]
Medley: You’ve Got Me Crying Again*; I’ll Follow You*; I Got a Right to Sing the Blues* from “Vanities 1932”
Happy as the Day is Long from “Cotton Club Parade”; Sophisticated Lady; Signature
Crossed out: Rockin’ in Rhythm
Singers: Harold Arlen, Ethel Waters, Ivy Anderson
Friday, April 21, 1933, WJZ and NBC Blue 12:00 mid -12:30 am
Signature – East St. Louis Toodle Oo; Jive Stomp; Moon Song* from “Hello Everybody”; The Monkey* [In the printed programs for Ellington’s 1933 English concerts, Spike Hughes noted: “Duke himself is very proud of The Monkey, which is one of his latest compositions for 1933, although the band does not seem to share his affection. Actually, The Monkey is an amusing trifle—an exercise in whole-tone scales, the weaving of rhythmic and melodic patterns—with some ingenious scoring thrown in.”]; Sophisticated Lady; Fast and Furious; Stormy Weather from “Cotton Club Parade”; Bugle Call Rag
Crossed out: Swanee Lullaby
Vocalist: Ethel Waters
Tuesday, April 25, 1933, WJZ and NBC Blue 12:00 mid -12:30 am
Signature – East St. Louis Toodle Oo; Cotton Club Shim Sham [Merry-Go-Round]; Stormy Weather from “Cotton Club Parade” (Ethel Waters); Some of these Days*; The Monkey* – Duke; Baby from “Blackbirds of 1928” (Ivy Anderson); Get Yourself a New Broom from “Cotton Club Parade”; Awful Sad
Signature – East St. Louis Toodle Oo
Vocalists: Ethel Waters, Ivy Anderson
Thursday, April 27, 1933, WEAF and Red 12:05-12:30 am
Signature – East St. Louis Toodle Oo; Slippery Horn; Drop Me Off in Harlem; Raisin the Rent from “Cotton Club Parade”; Sophisticated Lady; Jive Stomp; Stormy Weather from “Cotton Club Parade”; Signature: East St. Louis Toodle Oo
Crossed out: Doin the New Low Down from “Blackbirds of 1930”
Friday, April 28, 1933
No Ellington broadcast listed – pre-empted by the Metropolitan Opera Ball.
Tuesday, May 2, 1933, WJZ and NBC Blue, 12:00 mid -12:30 am
Signature – East St. Louis Toodle-Oo; Lightnin’; Stormy Weather from “Cotton Club Parade” (Ethel Waters); Swing Low; Trees*; Happy as the Day is Long “Cotton Club Parade”; Down a Carolina Lane; Jig Walk; Sophisticated lady; Signature
Thursday, May 4, 1933, WEAF and NBC Red, 12:05-12:30 am
Signature – East St. Louis Toodle Oo; Every Tub [Hyde Park]; Stormy Weather; Fast and Furious; The Duke Steps Out; Drop Me Off in Harlem; Sophisticated Lady
Friday, May 5, 1933, WJZ and NBC Blue, 12:00-12:30 am
Signature – East St. Louis Toodle-Oo; It’s Glory; Drop Me Off in Harlem; Twelfth Street Rag; Sophisticated Lady; Milenburg Joys*; Raisin the Rent from “Cotton Club Parade”; Slippery Horn
– East St. Louis Toodle-Oo
Crossed out: Ducky Wucky
May 9, 1933, WJZ and NBC Blue, 12:00 mid -12:30 am
Signature – East St. Louis Toodle Oo; Every Tub [Hyde Park]; Black and Tan Fantasy; Get Yourself a New Broom from “Cotton Club Parade”; Sophisticated Lady; Fast and Furious; Down a Carolina Lane; Slippery Horn; Stormy Weather from “Cotton Club Parade”; Signature – East St. Louis Toodle Oo
May 11, 1933, WEAF and NBC Red, 12:05-12:30 am
Signature – East St. Louis Toodle Oo; Stevedore Stomp; (illegible); Raisin’ the Rent; Get Yourself a New Broom; (illegible); Sophisticated Lady; (illegible)
Friday, May 12, 1933, WJZ and NBC Blue, 12:00-12:30 am
Signature – East St. Louis Toodle-Oo; Old Man Blues; Down a Carolina Lane*; It Don’t Mean a Thing; You’re Mine You*; (illegible)
Medley: Looking Forward* from “Looking Forward”
It’s Sunday Down in Caroline*; A Ghost of a Chance*; I Heard*; Sophisticated Lady; Signature – East St. Louis Toodle-Oo
Vocalist: Ivy Anderson
Tuesday, May 16, 1933, WJZ and NBC Blue, 12:00 mid -12:30 am
Signature – East St. Louis Toodle-Oo; The Duke Steps Out; Stormy Weather from “Cotton Club Parade” (Ethel Waters); The Monkey*; Blue Prelude*; I Know that You Know* from “Oh Please”; When We’re Alone* (Ivy Anderson); Sophisticated Lady; Signature – East St. Louis Toodle-Oo
Thursday, May 18, 1933, WEAF and NBC Red, 12:05-12:30 am
Signature – East St. Louis Toodle-Oo; Slippery Horn; Mood Indigo; Ring Dem Bells; Sophisticated Lady; Fast and Furious (piano solo); Best Wishes (Ivy Anderson); Runnin’ Wild; Signature – East St. Louis Toodle-Oo
Friday, May 19, 1933, WJZ and NBC Blue, 12:00 mid – 12:30 am
Signature – East St. Louis Toodle-Oo; Cotton Club Shim Sham; Creole Love Call; Swing Low; Sugar Hill Blues*; Jive Stomp; Best Wishes; It’s Glory; Sophisticated Lady; Signature
Tuesday, May 23, 1933
Ellington pre-empted for Dedication of Station WRVA program.
Thursday, May 25, 1933, WEAF and NBC Red, 12:05-12:30 am
Signature – East St. Louis Toodle-Oo; Lightnin’; Drop Me Off in Harlem; Double Check Stomp; The Mooch; Jig Walk*; Sophisticated Lady
Crossed out: Get Yourself a New Broom; Ducky Wucky; Bundle Of Blues
Friday, May 26, 1933, WJZ and NBC Blue, 12:00 mid -12:30 am
Signature – East St. Louis Toodle-Oo; St. Louis Blues; The Mooch; Tiger Rag; Awful Sad; Every Tub [Hyde Park]; Best Wishes ; Stevedore Stomp; Signature – East St. Louis Toodle-Oo
Crossed out: Blue Tune
Tuesday, May 30, 1933, WJZ and NBC Blue, 12:00 mid -12:30 am
Signature – East St. Louis Toodle-Oo; Jive Stomp; Stormy Weather from “Cotton Club Parade”; Limehouse Blues; Mama [Baby?] When You Aint There (Co[otie] Williams); It Don’t Mean A Thing (Ivy Anderson); Sophisticated Lady; Slippery Horn; Signature – East St. Louis Toodle-Oo
Drop Me Off in Harlem (Ivy Anderson)
Thanks to Carl Hällström for calling my attention to the NBC logs at the Library of Congress, and to Christel Schmidt for her thorough research assistance.
In the next Bulletin we will publish the results of the research by Carl Hällström about the broadcasts from the Ritz Carlton Roof in Boston in 1939; from the Southland Ballroom in Boston in 1940, and from the Panther Room in the Hotel Sherman in Chicago in 1940 and 1942.