DUKE ELLINGTON SOCIETY OF SWEDEN

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Duke Ellington in 1956 – November and December

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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.

Following the Birdland gig, Ellington and the band traveled to Cleveland, Ohio for a 10 days club residency at ”The Cotton Club” there. It was a club, which a man by the name of Sam Firsten had opened in 1954. Earlier in the year, among others, the Max Roach-Clifford Brown Quintet with Sonny Rollins had played at the club.

The engagement ended on December 12 after which Ellington returned to New York for the final recording session for ”A Drum Is A Woman” on December 6. In the same session ”Café Au Lait” and ”Star-Crossed Lovers (aka ”Pretty Girl”) were recorded.

On December 8, Ellington began a week-long at the Red Hill Hill in Pennsauken, New Jersey where he had played also in September. A  MBS broadcast with Ellington was done from the club on the first night. It was aired in New York as part of a ”Bandstand USA” program. Another broadcast, also part of a ”Bandstand USA” program, took place one week later.

Then, it was time for Ellington’s annual Christmas and New Year engagement at ”The Blue Note”. It started on December 19 and finished on January 6. As usual, there were several broadcasts from the club and the one from December 31 was the New Year’s greeting from the website to the DESS members. It isa still available in the Goodies Room.


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