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The Duke at The Hollywood Empire in 1949 (2) with Billie Holiday

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Duke & Billie

Duke & Billie around 1949

Our next visit to the Empire Hotel in Hollywood brings you music from February 9, 1949, originally issued on AFRS JJ-47 (AFRS=Armed Forces Radio Service). It has not been issued commercially, but one of the numbers, The Tattooed Bride, appears on an LP record presented at the Ellington-90 conference. Our source tape also includes two numbers sung by Billie Holliday, but it is not known whether this was part of the original broadcast material or if the Holiday songs were inserted for a re-broadcast. Be that as it may, it is always a pleasure to listen to her singing.

Billie sings Miss Brown To You

Members will find the complete recording from this occasion in the Goodies Room, the sound quality being acceptable, and hopefully the contents is of interest.Three different voices are heard introducing the show, one of which belongs to Gene Norman, who was one of the partners in running the club and also a well-known deejay.

Gene Norman

Gene Norman

The show starts with a short version of the theme, Take The A Train and continues with The Tattooed Bride, new for the 1948-49 season and recently written. It easily qualifies as one of Ellington’s best extended works and features Jimmy Hamilton’s clarinet prominently, but also Ellington and Lawrence Brown have solo roles.

Now Billie Holiday comes in and sings Miss Brown To You and Lover Man, but unfortunately we have no information about the orchestra that is backing her. (Timner lists a broadcast recording from February 6, where Billie also participates and a note says she is accompanied by her own group augmented by members of the Ellington band. The tunes performed by her on that occasion were My Man and Miss Brown To You which have been issued on a rare LP label, Ozone 12)

Rockin In Rhythm  is heard next and in addition to Lawrence Brown and Harry Carney, Tyree Glenn, Ray Nance and Harold Baker are prominently featured, wherafter Al Hibbler sings Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me where also Ray Nance can be heard. The show ends with How You Sound, a slightly bop-ish tune somewhat obscured by the closing announcement.

We hope you will enjoy this remarkable broadcast!








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