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New Year at Blue Note
Tonight a year comes to its end and a new year starts. Traditionally, it is a night of celebration and festivities and the website likes to offer something special this year as well.
To avoid all the covid-19 restrictions in place and ensure that you stay healthy, we will do it by transporting you back in time and place. We will go back to 31 December 1952/1 January 1953 and visit Frank Holzfiend’s Blue Note club in downtown Chicago.
At that time, it was still located at 56 W Madison Street. For many years, Duke Ellington (like Count Basie and Benny Goodman) had summer and winter engagements there.
In 1952/1953, Ellington had a two-week engagement, which started on 19 December 1952 and ended on 1 January 1953. He was regularly broadcasted over the NBC network and some of the broadcasts have been preserved.
This is the case of the broadcast of the early morning of 1 January 1953. Let’s imagine that we are sitting at the bar together, waiting for the band to come back after the break.
Everything is prepared for the broadcast. Duke strolls on stage, sits down at the piano and now it starts.
When the broadcast is over, you will have heard the Take The “A” Train theme followed by Fancy Dan, My Little Brown Book, Bensonality, The Hawk Talks, Creole Love Call, All of Me, Smada and How High The Moon (a few bars).
With this, we wish you A Happy Year and hope that you will support the website and the DESS Bulletin by joining Duke Ellington Society of Sweden (DESS).
Anders and Ulf
The Treasury Shows Vol. 24
Storyville has now issued volume 24 in “The Treasury Shows” series. It is the next to last in the series and it represents a jump of seven years from the broadcasts in volume 23.
It is a very different orchestra from the one heard in the 1946 broadcasts and the world has changed a lot around Ellington and big band music.
By 1953, Ellington is the only big band leader, who has not disbanded his orchestra since the start and the year before, Downboat Magazine gave the Duke a special recognition for this.
The album offers four June 1953 broadcasts from Blue Note in Chicago and an April 1, 1944 broadcast from Hurricane Restaurant in New York. The Blue Note broadcasts were originally issued as volume 47 and 48 in the DETS LP series.
They demonstrate very well the energy and skills of the rejuvenated Ellington orchestra. I hope that those who consider the early 1950s a disastrous period in Ellington’s career take time to enjoy what the newcomers to the band like Clark Terry, Willie Cook, Britt Woodman, Paul Gonsalves and others brought to it.
For the first time in the DETS series, two of the broadcasts have no U.S. Government bond promotion whatsoever. Both were apparently transmitted in the “Music For Modern” series, which was one of NBCs programs for jazz and big band music.
By the time the broadcasts took place, Ellington had made his first recordings for Capitol. In the absence of bond promotion, he took ample time to promote them.
When Storyville’s DETS series comes to its end with volume 25, Storyville has achieved something incredible for which it must be highly lauded by the Ellington and other jazz fans.
Blue Note , Chicago, 31 December 1956
The Blue Note, one of Chicago’s premiere jazz clubs during the 1950s, showcased nationally renowned musicians as regular acts, including Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Benny Goodman. Duke Ellington and his orchestra played there many times during the 1950’ies and it seems they were a very popular choice for New Year’s celebrations. We wish the DESS members a Happy New Year by uploading a CBS broadcast with Duke and the boys from 31 December 1956 which you’ll find in the Goodies Room. When you play this music on New Year’s Eve, 60 years have passed since it was recorded, but it still feels surprisingly fresh. The repertoire played here is probably typical for an event like this.
After the Theme & intro, Blue Skies is played, and Ellington’s version of this ever-green is also known as Trumpet No End, originally arranged by Mary-Lou Williams. This is one of the last known recordings of this tune, which was often played throughout the 1940’ies. In quick succession, we hear Sophisticated Lady, Caravan, Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me and Things Ain’t What They Used To Be, before the broadcast ends with Mood Indigo.
We hope you enjoy the music and wish you a Happy New Year!
Anders & Ulf