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Duke Ellington’s monthlong tour of Europe between April 1 and May 1, 1939 took him and the orchestra to France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Norway.
They spent most of the time in Sweden, where Ellington gave 22 concerts in 14 cities. He played three times in both Stockholm and Göteborg.
In addition, Ellington and the orchestra performed in Oslo, Norway and in Copenhagen, Denmark, (two concerts in each city).
The tour meant that thousands of Swedes, most of them young, experienced Ellington and his music directly. Many of them also made contact with Ellington and band members to shake hands and get their concert programs autographed.
The website has published two articles about the tour in Sweden with some quite unique photos. One is about Ellington’s concerts in Stockholm on April 16, April 24 and April 29 and the other about the concert in Storvik on April 23, 1939
Ellington’s European tour is well documented in The Duke – Where and When with links to what has been witten about the tour and lists of the music played at the concerts in The Netherlands.
Preparing for the Ellington ’90 conference, John E. Hasse researched the Ellington Archive for material about the 1939 tour and on the last day of the conference he made an hourlong presentation on it.
As a true pedagog, Hasse had prepared an eight pages handout with essential information from his presentation. Roger Boyes of DESUK has very kindly shared his copy of the handout with the website to allow us to share it with our readers.
In part 2 of the concert, Alice Babs joins the orchestra.
She sings four songs and starts approprietly with I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart, which is the title of the whole concert. Then follows three songs from the early 1940 period – Warm Valley, I Don’t Mind and Me and You. They seems all to be in arrangements by Andrew Homzy.
Warm Valley got words by the lyricist Bob Russell. It must have been no later than mid-fifties since the first vocal of Warm Valley was recorded by Abbey Lindcoln in 1956. Babs recorded it with Nils Lindberg for the Alice Babs Serenading Duke Ellington (1975) and Far Away Star (1958) albums.
I Don’t Mind was recorded by Ellington and Ivie Anderson at the last Ellington session for RCA-Victor in 1942. In 1945, it was a feature for Marie Ellington. Billy Strayhorn set the words to the Ellington melody.