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Duke Ellington in 1956 – November and December

Ellington must have had a fairly comfortable time in November and December 1956. He had some good bookings, which should have allowed him and the band to relax, particularly since they could spend some extended time in New York.

November seems to have started with a week-long tour of the southern part of the east coast but specific information exists only for November 3 when he played at North Carolina State College in Raleigh.

By November 8, Ellington was back in New York to start his two-week engagement at Birdland. During his stay there, on November 18, Ellington was apparently the master of ceremonies for the “6th Annual Religious, Gospel and Folk Music Concert featuring Mahalia Jackson”. The same night CBS aired a Steve Allen Show in which Ellington appeared.


Meadowbrook, Cedar Grove, June 1951


Willie Smith and Harold Baker are soloing in Sophisticated Lady

To complete our series of broadcasts from the Meadowbrook in New Jersey, we can now present to the DESS members, in the Goodies Room, the final recording from this venue. For this event, discographies do not specify the exact date, only June 1951. According to the New DESOR, it was once issued on VOA POD-41/POD-42, but the exact circumstances are not known. VOA stands for Voice Of America, so this music was probably sent over its own network.

Like all previous recordings from Meadowbrook in June 1951, this one also comes from an MBS broadcast. The following numbers were played:

All Day Long*Sophisticated Lady*The Hawk Talks*Midriff*Just A-Sittin’ And A-Rockin’*Caravan (more…)

First 2017 issue of the DESS Bulletin

The first issue of the DESS Bulletin for 2017 has just been published and is on its way to the subscribers.

The cover story of the issue is about Otto Hardwick.


In his usual detailed way Bo Haufman – the editor of the Bulletin – portraits Ellington’s C melody and alto sax player for many  years and tells the story of  of his sometimes turbulent times inside and outside the Ellington orchestra. Among other things, it is interesting to learn more about Hardwick’s time away from Ellington in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

The article is accompanied by a discography on Hardwick’s recordings outside the Ellington band.

In the article, Haufman mentions the 1932 Vidaphone movie “Smash Your Baggage” featuring Elmer Snowden and his Small’s Paradise Orchestra, which at the time included Hardwick. Roy Eldridge, Dicky Wells and Al Sears were other band members at the time.


Duke Lives On – The Mooche

Here are two contemporary interpretations of “The Mooche” (1928) quite different in character.

The first one is provided by the Sextuor de Clarinettes Baerman – a French ensemble focused on exploring the sound palette of the clarinet family

 The interpretation stays close to the original melody and the 1928 recordings.

The second one is provided by a group featuring the Cohen siblings Yuval, Anat and Avishai and consequently called 3 Cohens. Anat is well-known for the Swedish audience having visited Stockholm and Fasching several times. Avishai should not be mixed up with the basist Avishai Cohen, who also has been a frequent visitor to Sweden.

The group provides a true cover version and explore the song to its fullest.


Meadowbrook, Cedar Grove, New Jersey, June 11, 1951


Pompton Turnpike

VIP’s Boogie

This article covers the MBS “Coast To Coast” broadcast with Ellington and his orchestra from Meadowbrook on June 11, 1951. The full broadcast is available to DESS members in the Goodies Room.

Announcing the broadcast, the presenter says that it comes “to you from Frank Dailey’s Meadowbrook here on Route 23, the newest Pompton Turnpike in Cedar Grove, New Jersey, just a short fifteen miles from New York City”.

The Newark-Pompton Turnpike was a roadway in northern New Jersey that was originally a tolled turnpike. The roadway was first laid out in the mid-18th century and given its name in 1806. As originally designed, it connected Newark with the area north and west of the Pompton River in what is now Riverdale.

The songwriters (and bandleaders) Will Osborne and Dick Rogers wrote a song – Pompton Turnpike – in 1940. It is a strong plug for Meadowbrook. The lyrics says “Pompton Turnpike leads you / To a place not far from Broadway / Still it’s on a farm. / You dine with lights subdued / The music interlude puts you right in the mood.”

Charlie Barnet recorded the song in an instrumental version on July 19, 1940 and Louis Jordan followed suite with a vocal version on September 30.

In the broadcast, Ellington features the following songs:  Take The A Train & intro*VIP’s Boogie*Jam With Sam*Don’t Get Around Much Anymore*Sultry Serenade*Duet*Love You Madly*The Hawk Talks*The Happening*Gotta Go (more…)

New CD from Maison de Duke

Ellington spent a lot of time in Europe in 1963, both in the early Spring and in the summer. It is well-documented both by CDs and on tapes circulating among collectors. In November, the website added to this by making available to DESS-members both the Indigo telecast with Ellington and Alice Babs and the alternative takes from Duke’s recording session for Reprise with Babs  in Paris.

After having started the European tour in United Kingdom, Ellington and band went to Paris for a recording session and three concerts at Olympia in Paris on February 1 and 2. At the end of the tour, he was back in Paris for, among other things, another two concerts at Olympia on February 23. The “Great Paris Concert” album originally issued on Atlantic extracted from concerts on the three dates.


The French Ellington society – Maison de Duke – has added to this by issuing a CD with selections from both the concerts on February 23. It includes 6 tracks from the first concert and 7 from the second and most of them are true highlights.. Some of them are alternative takes to those available on “Great Paris Concert” like “”A Tone Parallell to Harlem” and “New Concerto for Cootie”.

The CD comes with a booklet written by Claude Carrière, which is thorough and enlightening in his usual detailed style. And with CD, the liner notes are available in English as well.



Above is a picture of a very rare LP-album recorded in 1957, on January 10, exactly 60 years ago. This items shows up now and then on auctions, and the interested buyer is expected to pay 400 USD+  to become the owner. DESS-members can enjoy this music by logging into the Goodies Room.

Blue Skies

Grinnell is a town in Iowa with one of the more reputed colleges in USA. It was here at Grinnell College during a wintry evening Ellington and his men played a concert which according to sources received a luke-warm reception. Probably due to the scarcity of copies of the record, it seems that Messrs Timner, Aasland and Hoefsmit were not able to make too many comments on its origin and contents. It was in fact suggested that the playing order of the the tunes was not the correct one on the record compared to the concert, so therefor it is different in the New Desor. (more…)

Duke Lives On – The Nutcracker Suite

The holiday season is over but one can listen to the Ellington-Strayhorn version of the Nutcracker Suite any time of the year. Here it is in a version played by the combined ARC Studio Jazz Ensemble & The Sacramento Jazz Orchestra.

Bits And Pieces

Hotel Sherman CD

The Ellington specialist and discographer Brian Koller reports that the correct discographical information for track 23 and 24 of the CD is:

Track 23, Maybe, is DE4028xa instead of DE4024b
Track 24, Harlem Air Shaft, is DE4028f instead of DE4024f

He refers to the NDESOR correction sheet 1080 available at http://www.depanorama.net/desor/1018.pdf. The sheet is also available in the website’s Ellington Archive.

New CD from Maison du Duke

Maison du Duke has issued a new Ellington CD – “The Great 1963 Paris Concert – Unissued Material”. However, it is only available to members of MdD.


Chocolate Kiddies and Jig Walk

The Swedish discographer Björn Englund published an article on Chocolate Kiddies in Storyville issue 62 with information on all the recordings of Jig Walk. With his permission, the article is available in the Ellington Archive/Artiklar/Jig Walk

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