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The Chicago meeting was followed by another one in New York in the first weekend of October , 1981, It was labelled “the first ever international meeting of the Duke Ellington Study Group” because among the participants was Benny Åslund from Sweden and Charles Delaunay from France.
But the majority was of course American Ellington experts like Don Miller and Dick Buckley from Chicago, Henry Quarles from Milwaukee, Jack Towers and Terrell Allen from Washington D.C. and a lot of people from New York like Don Swenson and other members of the Duke Ellington Society of New York (TDES). In total, some twenty people attended the meeting.
On his return to Chicago, Dick Buckley told his listeners that it had been a good meeting.
Jerry Valburn was the driving force behind it. Apparently, most of it took place in his basement where he had all the necessary equipment for listening sessions.
But the participants also enjoyed each other’s company in various restaurants.
The event has been preserved on 6 K7 tapes. The sound quality is better than the ones from the Chicago meeting but of course there are glitches here and there. It is rather obvious that from time a transportable tape recorder was used.
All the tapes have been digitized and those interested in them can contact the web editor.
Contrary to later conferences, the meeting was not one of presentations but of informal listening and discussions. The short tape excerpts below give a sense of the atmosphere at the meeting. There are some more and longer ones in the Ellington Archive (section Ellington Study Group Conferences / New York 1981.)
The release of the radio program “Your Saturday Date with the Duke” is a fascinating project. In 1981 the first LP in a series of 49 was issued and it took most of the 1980s before the whole series was available. After a break of more than 10 years, a re-release on CD started and as said in yesterday’s article, there are at least three more volumes to come.
So the project will have lasted more than 35 years before it is finished but then the worldwide community of Ellington fans and others will have access to a gold mine of Ellington music from 1943-1953 with excellent sound.
The DESS Bulletin 2011:4 includes a long and detailed article by Bo Haufman on the “Your Saturday Date with the Duke” broadcasts and the “Duke Ellington Treasury Shows” series. It is highly recommended.
The first ”Your Saturday Date with the Duke” was broadcasted live with an audience on April 7, 1945 and then every Saturday until October 5, 1946.
The broadcasts were promotions to buy war bonds. Duke Ellington was a true patriot and spoke convincingly about the need to support the country and its war efforts.
Some broadcasts were released already in the 1950s but the quality of the sound was not very good.
The American Ellington scholar, record producer, record engineer and much more, Jerry Valburn, manage to collect all the transcriptions of the broadcasts and issued the whole series of them as the “Duke Ellington Treasury Shows” on LP in the 1980s.
Valburn announced this ambitious project to the members of his record club, Merritt Record Society, in December 1980 and the first three records were distributed in March-April 1981.
In the beginning there were new records almost every month but then there were longer and longer intervals between them and the last volumes became available only towards the end of the 1980s.
For the subscribers, it was not always easy to get the records delivered, possibly because of financial problems of the project. In the end, the best way to get the records was to call Valburn when one was in New York and go and get them. One of the last sets he delivered to me (Ulf) during a lunch at Eddie Condon’s Jazz Club on the last day of the club’s existence.
The sound engineer behind the LP series was Jerry Valburn’s close friend Jack Towers.He was responsible for the transfer of the transcriptions to tape and for the sound editing. In a fascinating interview with Rob Bamberger, Towers described his work which often meant to scrape magnetic particles off the tapes.
The interview is available to DESS members in the Ellington Archive
Already when the project was launched, Valburn announced that a book on the ”Your Saturday Date with the Duke”-broadcasts was to be published. It was to be co-written by Valburn and Benny Aaslund available to subscribers of the DETS-series at half price.
In mid-1982 Valburn reported that the book was more or less finished
However, this was apparently not the case because more than ten years later Valburn announced in DEMS 1994/2: “Duke Ellington and the Treasury Series: This 85 page book is completed and awaiting publishing later this year.”
But the years went on and no book appeared. There are some rumours that it was seen in one form or the other in the offices of Storyville in Copenhagen at the end of the 1990s.
Storyville Records started to issue the DETS-series (with a lot of bonuses added) in 2000. Valburn himself was involved in the beginning as was Jack Towers and he wrote the some of the first CD booklets.
But then this task was taken over by different members of the inner circle of Ellington scholars and collectors. The booklets are very well written and rich in information. If one has got all of them, there is really no reason to hope for a book as well.
The DETS series are available from several sources. The price for a new CD is about 17-18 EUR (Storyville, Amazon, JazzMessengers, Plugged Records) but one can find second-hand ones in shape as new for about 11-13 EUR (Amazon). The most expensive way is to download from iTunes, which charge 20 EUR.
Another way is to listen to the series at Spotify or Apple Music. Both of these streaming audio services offers most of the series but which ones seems to vary from time to time.
Authors: Ulf Lundin / Göran Wallén