A little more than a week after his stay at Meadowbrook, we find Ellington and the orchestra playing at Birdland, the famous jazz spot in Manhattan. Their stay there was from June 21 to 30 in 1951. They had played there for one week in early May,(May 3 to 9), following Count Basie and his orchestra . The band personell had not changed, except that Norma Oldham is no longer present.
In the Goodies Room, DESS members will find a nearly complete version of the a broadcast from June 23 as far as the melodic contents go. Some of the numbers have been issued commercially before on Session Disc 107 and Stardust 202, both in 1975. The contents are as follows:
*Take The A Train*Fancy Dan#*The Hawk Talks#*Swamp Drum#*Rockin’ In Rhythm#*Happy Bithday To You*Aberdeen*Caravan*All Day Long*Ol’ Man River*Harlem Air Shaft##*Things Ain’t What They Used To Be*Take The A Train
# Session Disc 107, ## Stardust 202
Jumpin’ With Symphony Sid is the only tune missing, since it is disputable whether Things Ain’t What They Used To Be belongs to this session or not.
After Take The A Train, the following three numbers were all new in 1951, they had in fact just recently been recorded, Fancy Dan and The Hawk Talks by Columbia and Swamp Drum by Mercer Records.The latter is a Strayhorn composition and the other two by Duke and Louie Bellson respectively. The band then plays Rockin’ In Rhythm, after which there is some namecalling of famous drummers leading into a brief Happy Birthday played for NBC man Fred Collum, celebrating his birthday.
In 1948, at Carnegie Hall, Ellington had presented The Tattooed Bride for the first time. This composition consists of two parts, of which the second, aka Aberdeen, is performed in the broadcast (and can be played above). Beautiful music which in reality is a concerto for Jimmy Hamilton. This is followed by Caravan, All Day Long and Ol’ Man River which are similar to the performances we have heard from The Meadowbrook earlier. Harlem Air Shaft includes a fine trumpet solo by Harold Baker. This was before it became a solo vehicle for Clark Terry from 1952 an onwards. The broadcast is then rounded off with Things Ain’t What They Used To Be and Take The A Train.