Duke Ellington and his orchestra spent October 1962 in the American West, particularily in California.
At the end of the month, he and the band crossed the border into Canada and started a two-week engagement at Isy’s Supper Club in Vancouver, British Columbia.
In Vancouver, Jack Cullen was a well-known radio host and disc jockey since the late 1940’s with his “Owl Prowl” program. He also had as a speciality to interview visiting music celebrities and make unauthorised recordings of their concerts. This made him considered as “the irreverent rebel in radio”.
On October 30 after the last show at Isy’s, Cullen and his friend Bobby Hughes went back stage and asked Ellington if he would come over to the radio station and do an interview.
“Ellington was in a good mood”, remembers Cullen, “so we walked back the three blocks to my studio ….. and on the way we got him some good Canadian rye to sip during the interview”.
Cullen claims that the group did not break up until 5 in the morning – “it was one of the longest ones I ever done”. Towards the end of the second part of the interview, Cullen notes that the time is 20 to 4 but it seems that the interview continued after that.
The interview we publish today and next week is spoken 35 minutes long and spoken words only. However, when one examines the recording, it is obvious that it has been edited in many places and most likely it is the music played during the interview, which has been cut out.
This month, the website publish the interview in two installments in its Goodies section – the first one today and the second one next week.
Cullen and Hughes quickly get Ellington in a relaxed mood and the interview is a walk with him through quite a number of compositions he had recorded.