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
Only the last two titles are available on records. Both of them can be found on Stardust 202, Musidisc (F)5209 and Jazz Bird 2020. Furthermore, there are only two instances of them in the Ellington discography.
The Happening was originally recorded by The Coronets for Mercer Records on April 17, 1951 and the broadcast is the only other instance of the song in Ellington discographies. Gotta Go is listed three times – all of them in broadcasts from Ellington’s stay at the Meadowbrook in June 1951.
Apart from these two songs, the song list is pretty much typical for this part of Ellington’s career. In Jam With Sam (2nd part of Threessome) most of the soloists are heard, this time beginning with Harold Baker. Sultry Serenade, composed by Tyree Glenn is a solo piece for Britt Woodman, who with Ellington became more associated with this tune than its originator. Duet with a co-operation between Jimmy Hamilton and Wendell Marshall, is probably Marshall’s most memorable contribution during his stay with the band. After he left the Ellington organization, it was only recorded once more (in 1958) with Jimmy Woode playing the bass fiddle. The Happening is an up-tempo, but enjoyable, bopish contribution by Paul Gonsalves playing in his typical manner, and Got To Go was unfortunately cut short because air-time was up.