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Ellington at 49 Street and Broadway

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One of the speakers at Ellington ’90 in Ottawa was Jerry Valburn.

He talked about Ellington’s periods at the New York restaurants The Hurrican in 1943 and 1944 and at Cafe Zanzibar in 1945. One followed the other in the large restaurant and dance space on the second floor of the Brill Building at 49th Street and Broadway in the center of Manhattan.

In the Ellington community, Valburn is best known for the Duke Ellington Treasury Show (DETS) series but he also issued LPs with rare material under labels such as Merrit and Blue Disc.

The DETS series was announced in the DEMS Bulletin in the spring of 1981 and the first volumes were issued in mid-1981. To get them, one had to subscribe to the series and only 400 subscribers would be accepted.

In the DEMS announcement, Valburn said that three records should be released every month (except for July and August) and that each record should have an insert sheet with “a complete script of the actual broadcast”. Subscribers would also get a 50% discount on an Benny Aaslund-Jerry Valburn “special book on the Ellington Treasury Series” which was to be published in 1981.

Rather quickly, it turned out that the schedule was too optimistic and it took several years (and many reminders) before one had the 49 albums in one’s hand.

To get some of the last volumes, I had to meet Valburn at the Eddie Condon Jazz Club on 54th Street in New York. When I arrived, it turned out that the club had closed the night before and when Jerry and I were eating our hamburgers, workers were dismantling the place. But I got my records!

Anyhow, the Treasury Show series must be considered as a major achievement and Ellington collectors all over the world should be grateful that Valburn (and Jack Towers) carried it through to the end.

In his hour-long presentation, Valburn presents and plays fourteen songs from six broadcasts as follows:

4 April 1943 What Am I Here For, Could It Be You and Goin’ Up

23 Sep. 1943 At’s In There and Solid Old Man

20 April 1944 San Fernando Valley, Suddenly It Jumped, On The Alamo and Things Ain’t What THey Used To Be

12 May 1944 Time Alone Will Tell

20 May 1944 Since You Went Away and How Blue The Night. They are unissued and Valburn gives the date as 21 May. Thank you to Anders Asplund for providing the material and the correct date.

24 Sep. 1945 Take The “A” Train (theme) and Stompy Jones. Valburn had announced that he would playtwo more but he runs of time for them.

 

Valburn’s presentation was one of the presentations and panel discussions at Ellington ’90 filmed by Sjef Hoefsmit. It has been digitalized and edited by the web editor. Because of the technical setup in Ottawa, the sound quality of the original video is quite poor and part of the music played by Valburn has been replaced with material from Storyville’s DETS series.

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