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Duke Ellington in 1956 – the month of September
The recording of “A Drum Is A Woman” would become a major activity for Ellington in September 1956 but the month started by Ellington winding up his engagement at Blue Note in Chicago.
Then he went on the road again. His immediate whereabouts after Chicago are not known but on September 10 he started a week-long engagement at the Colonial Tavern in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The club was one of the most famous jazz venues in Canada at the time.
Before arriving in New York City in the early morning of September 17, the Ellington orchestra played at the Town Casino in Buffalo, New York on September 16. A recording of a broadcast from the club exists.
The recording session for “A Drum Is A Woman” was supposed to start in the mid-afternoon but apparently it took some time before everybody was in place in the studio – Ellington included.
According to Irving Townsend, the band members arrived one by one but once everybody was in place they “began to complain loudly about wasting all night just sitting around. At that moment Ellington walked into the room, stopping to kiss his female visitors, chatting with everybody as he worked his way slowly toward the piano. Then, with a bow toward the control room, he asked, “Am I late? Oh, dear. What time is it anyway?”
Carribee Joe, Congo Square, A Drum Is A Woman and Rumbop was recorded.
The following day Ellington and the band started a week-long engagement at the Red Hill Inn in Pennsauken, New Jersey – another well-known jazz venue in the 50s and early 60s.
MBS made a remote broadcast from the club for its “Bandstand U.S.A.” program during Ellington’s appearance there.
Having ended the engagement at Red Hill Inn on September 24, Ellington and the members of the orchestra rushed back for another recording session of “A Drum Is A Woman”. It started just before midnight on September 24 and run all night of September 25th into the wee hours of the morning.
One or more takes of Rhythm Pum Te Dum, Caribee Joe, What Else Can You Do With A Drum, A Drum Is A Woman, Hey Buddy Bolden, Congo Square (Matumbe), Madam Zajj were recorded during this long session.
After a two day break, which included a performance at the Sports Arena at Fort Dix, New Jersey, Ellington and the orchestra was back in the Columbia recording studio for another “A Drum Is A Woman” session. This time New Orleans (Sunrise Act 1), New Orleans (Sunrise Act 2), New Orleans (Parade), Rhumbop, Hey Buddy Bolden, Zajj’s Dream (Carribee Interlude), The Greatest Thing There Is, Congo Square and A Drum Is A Woman were recorded.
The recording session more or less ended the month for Ellington. If there were other engagements in the last couple of days of the months, they are not known.
This post has been written using information from http://www.tdwaw.ca and http://www.ellingtonia.com – two absolutely invaluable sources of information on Ellington’s whereabouts and activities.