Duke and the orchestra played for dancing at Meadowbrook, New Jersey in early June 1951 and we know of the existence of eight different broadcasts from this engagement. Meadowbrook was at the time a well-known venue for the very best jazz and swing bands of the dance band era. Unfortunately, very few items from those eight broadcasts have found their way on to commercially issued LP’s and CD’s which is a pity, because the orchestra really sounds great on these old recordings.At this time, Johnny Hodges, Lawrence Brown and Sonny Greer had been away from the orchestra for a few months, but had in fact been replaced by Willie Smith, Juan Tizol and Louie Bellson through the “The Great James Robbery”. Paul Gonsalves was pretty new, but had already been established as the tenor player par excellence. In addition, some interesting voices remained in the trumpet section, namely Nelson Willams, Harold Baker, Cat Anderson and Ray Nance. It would be nice if these broadcasts could be issued on CD’s. Maybe this would be a future task for DESS?
You can now enjoy Midriff, one of Billy Strayhorn’s finest compositions, recorded at the Meadowbrook.
I agree that the broadcasts from Meadowbrook are important snapshots from a period of big changes for Ellington and should be made available in its entirety. The 6 June one is available on a CD from Dooji Record Club (together with parts of the one from 9 June. As I wrote a couple of months ago the full broadcast of 8 June is available on Youtube. But very little of the other one has been issued so I guess that you will have to go to work 🙂