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Ellington at 49 Street and Broadway

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.

Phil Schaap on 6 Ellington Sidemen

Phil Schaap was a frequent contributor to the Ellington conferences.

We have already published his presentations at the Stockholm ’94 conference and here is the one he gave in Copenhagen in 1992.

The topic for Schaap’s presentation was “After Duke: Six Ellington Sidement in Their Years After Leaving The Band”.

The six sidemen selected for the presentation had left the Ellington orchestra in different decades and covers together the full lifespan of the band.

The sidement are Louis Metcalfe (1920’s), Freddie Jenkins (1930’s), Al Sears (1940’s), Francis Williams (1950’s), Sam Woodyard (1960’s) and Russell Procope (1970’s).

Schaap had interviewed them at one point or the other and use selections from the interviews in his presentation.


The DESS Bulletin – New Issue

The indefatigable editor of the DESS Bulletin, Bo Haufman, has produced a new issue. It is the 2019-2 one and it is on its way to the DESS members.

The trumpeter Harold Baker – nicknamed “Shorty” – is the featured artist in the new issue.

Thomas Eriksson covers his life and career in a five page article. The focus is of course on his time in the Ellington band but the readers with also learn about his time with the big bands of Don Redman, Teddy Wilson and Andy Kirk before Baker joined Ellington in 1942. His time and marriage with Mary Lou Williams is also well covered as are his periods as freelancer.

A second Baker article in the new Bulletin is a reprint from Jazz Journal, in which Clark Terry tells Steven Voce about him. “There was never a better trumpet player to come out of St. Louis than Harold “Shorty Baker”, he says.

Another major article in the new Bulletin is about Al Sears. It is written by Nigel Haslewood, an Englishman living in Leicester, UK who runs the online Sadman Record shop.

It is the first part of an article, which was originally published in the IAJRC Journal. Like Thomas Eriksson’s article on Harold Baker, it is very well researched and very detailed. When the second part is also published, the DESS members should have a good monography on Al Sears.

This issue also have some shorter articles by Bo Haufman himself like one about The Women’s Duke Ellington and another on the Ellington-Strayhorn composition The Eighth Veil.

The DESS member Erling Torkelsson have also contributed to the new Bulletin with an article about Jerome Kern, George Gershwin and Duke Ellington.




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