DUKE ELLINGTON MUSIC SOCIETY
03/3 December 2003 - March 2004
FOUNDER: BENNY AASLAND
Voort 18b, Meerle, Belgium
Telephone: +32 3 315 75 83
It seems that we have now collected all the original Ellington recordings made for the Paramount picture "Murder at the Vanities".
It is possible that we have everything that has survived, but there must have been more material, as we shall see.
The records PBS 79093/1 and PBS 79094/1 comprise together the entire score. Similarly PBS 79105/1 and PBS 79106/1 taken together make up a second complete rendition of this work.
There are great differences between these two versions of Ebony Rhapsody. The soundtrack, as described in the New DESOR 3403a, has a closer resemblance to the score as it is performed on PBS 79105/1 and PBS 79106/1, compared to the combination of PBS 79093/1 and PBS 79094/1. But it is still very different.
Descriptions1 of the four records read as follows:
There were also two promotion records, which have never been released. Steven Lasker allowed us to listen to some segments of these promo-records in Los Angeles during his presentation on 25May00. We have compared these promo records, PCS 79193/1 and PCS 79194/1, with the other material.
193 contains three segments of Ellington music (the remaining portions were not by Ellington).
The first segment runs from approximately 0:16 until 0:48.
It contains from 105: %14BAND,2BB,2BAND,2JH(s.s.),4BAND;pas2BAND;ver4BAND%
The second segment runs from 2:41 until 3:25 and contains %;2°BVB;% which is identical with the soundtrack. The background music behind the vocal is different from both 093 and 105. The claim made on the promo record that Gertrude Michael is singing is incorrect. It was Barbara Van Brunt's final version as heard on the soundtrack. Barbara did the singing in the picture. Gertrude appeared on screen.
The third segment runs from 3:31 until 3:50.
It contains from 105: %14BAND,2BB,2BAND,2JH(s.s.)1BAND%
194 has only one segment by Ellington. It runs from 3:09
until 4:08 and it could be described as follows:
This segment sounds as if it was taken from 106, but it is not. It is also different from the soundtrack.
Ellington's music in the picture has a length of 4:38. It is
obviously played from the same score as the one used for
105/106. Comparison reveals, however, that it is a different
recording and that parts must have been omitted from the original
recording, which was used for the soundtrack.
The intro 2DE is missing, the last 4 bars of the "pas" before 3° and the first 10 bars of 3° are deleted.
It looks like this: pas4BAND&SG(ch.),%;3°%,10BAND,2LB,10BAND.
Conclusion: there must have been at least two more takes of Ebony Rhapsody. One of these is the take used for the soundtrack; the other is the one from which 194 was made.
1The descriptions have been made by Luciano Massagli and Giovanni Volonté.
This is a rather complicated article about "Ebony Rhapsody". We think we should recapitulate Hoefsmit's conclusions.
If we look at the Paramount document (recreated on p104 of Stratemann) we see how composer Arthur Johnston envisioned the piece as a whole in terms of number of choruses. Two of the unissued takes are complete except for vocal, each take spread across two 10-inch 78 rpm sides (093+094 and 105+106).
The soundtrack version is an altogether different take, with vocal overdubbed by Barbara Van Brunt but it is incomplete due to edits (which Hoefsmit has described vis à vis the other takes).
A fragment of the fourth take has been found only on the 12-inch Paramount promo record (194).
Ellington's soundtrack recordings for Paramount Pictures were
originally on optical track; we would be greatly surprised if any of
Paramount's outtakes from this period still survives in that form.
We suspect we have finally collected all of Ellington's material for
"Murder at the Vanities" that Victor mastered onto discs. Additional
material could in theory survive on a World Program Service
Hollywood Movie Parade Program 16-inch ET similar to the one issued
for "Belle of the Nineties" (see Stratemann p92). "Belle"
was program 10; "Murder at the Vanities" might have been an earlier issue in the same series.
Blue Bells of Harlem
03/3 DEMS 19/1
This may have been covered by DEMS, but I do not see it in any
discography. I gave some of this info to Luciano Massagli and
Giovanni Volonté in Stockholm in 1994.
The late Edmund Anderson had acetates of the two "Black, Brown, & Beige" concerts of January 1943.
The Blue Belles of Harlem Edmund had labelled Boston (Symphony Hall 1/28/1943) played the same as the Blue Belles of Harlem on Prestige PR 34004. I mentioned this to Jerry Valburn at the IJS - probably 1980 or 1981- and he confirmed, at that time, that the Blue Belles of Harlem on PR34004 was one of the substitutions from Boston 1/28/1943 for Carnegie 1/23/1943.
I never had all of the two concerts in a verifiable way for a complete verification. Still, I trusted my sources and was surprised not to see it sorted out the way it had been indicated by Anderson/Valburn in the various discographies since the early 1980s.
So, my first inquiry:
Is the Blue Belles of Harlem on Prestige PR 34004 from Carnegie Hall NYC 1/23/1943 or from Symphony Hall Boston 1/28/1943?
I've tried to sort this out on my own and have come up with a release of Blue Belles of Harlem that I can't trace discographically. It is the 10" LP on Palm Club #24. Most of the material is listed for 6Feb49, but there is an unaccounted for Blue Belles of Harlem on this album. It is different than the one on Prestige PR 34004.
So, my second inquiry:
What version of Blue Belles of Harlem is on Palm Club # 24, the 10" LP? They seem similar enough to represent the two January 1943 events.
So, my third inquiry:
Do the Blue Belles of Harlem's on Prestige and Palm Club represent the two Jan43 concerts? If so, then which is which?
Here is first a contribution by Luciano Massagli as published in DEMS 97/1-3: "We all know from Benny Aaslands Wax Works 42-44 that on Prestige 34004 the first part of Black, plus Black Beauty in its entirety, are taken from Boston 28Jan43. But there are also some irregularities in the copies made of the recording of Blue Bells of Harlem.
On Prestige, the coda of 2 bars comes from the Boston concert. On Hall of Fame JG-627, the coda of 2 bars is deleted. On the tape copy of the original acetates, the piece is complete with the original coda, but the 4° chorus of the III theme, played by DE is erroneously repeated."
I found in François Moulé's Guide to the Duke Ellington Recorded Legacy on LPs and CDs (1992) on page 380: "The last track on Palm Club 24, Blue Belles of Harlem, is the same recording as used for the AFRS transcription 'Down Beat' No 261, the location and date of which are still untraced. It is not from 'Carnegie Hall', NYC, 23Jan43, as stated on paper included in record sleeve (and not from 23Jun or 7Jul45 either)."
This is what I have to say: I do not have the original recording of 23Jan43. What I have is the Prestige and the Hall of Fame LPs. I have though a copy on tape of the Boston concert of 28Jan43. I can assure you that Boston's Blue Bells of Harlem is different from the Prestige recording. That answers your first question.
I do not have Palm Club LP # 24. However, I have the AFRS transcription, mentioned in François Moulé's Guide. It is different from both Carnegie and Boston and it is, in spite of what François claims, the same as what we have in the Treasury broadcast of 7Jul45. This answers your second question. In addition, your third question is answered now.
I have mailed to you a cassette with first the recording of Blue Bells of Harlem from Boston, followed by the one from the Treasury broadcast of 7Jul45. I hope you will compare this last one with your Palm Club LP and send me your findings if it is different. If this is the case, please make me a copy of your Palm LP. I will be happy to compare it with all 7 recordings of this title in the Ellington discography.
Some reflections: I believe that there were at least two sets of
recordings made of the Carnegie Hall concert. One was not complete.
Black Beauty, the introduction to and the first part of
Black, and the very end of Blue Bells of Harlem were
not on these acetates. There must have been another set of
recordings, since we have a "re-broadcast" of "Black, Brown and
Beige" a little later in 1943, which has the complete (spoken)
introduction and the beginning of Black from the Carnegie Hall
concert. I presume that the first non-complete set of
recordings was released by Hall of Fame, Jazz Greats JG 625, 626 and
627. There were two solutions to "repair" the shortcomings of this
recording. One took parts from the Boston concert (Prestige) and one
replaced the end of Blue Bells of Harlem on the incomplete
recording with the end of the complete recording of the Carnegie Hall
concert, resulting in a repeat of Ellington's 4° chorus (the
tape, Luciano is talking about).
Except in these cases where the text was signed by Phil Schaap
and/or François Moulé, we have chosen to print the
original copyrighted title: Blue Bells of Harlem.
Original Sequences Clarified
03/3 DEMS 19/2
Ellington's full orchestra recorded five titles in Chicago on
14oct39, followed by an additional four selections by Johnny Hodges
and His Orchestra plus a piano solo.
According to the A.R.C. ledgers, the ten numbers assigned to these recordings, WM-1091 through WM-1100, are transfer numbers; the original master numbers were WC-2802 through WC-2811, respectively.
The four titles recorded on 16oct39 also originally bore different master numbers:
WC-2812 = WM-1105 BBahO: Early Mornin'
WC-2813 = WM-1107 DEahFO: Your Love Has Faded
WC-2814 = WM-1106 DEahFO: Killin' Myself
WC-2815 = WM-1108 DEahFO: Country Gal
Thus, the original sequence of recordings made this date isn't
documented in any published discography. (This comment also applies
to Ellington's sessions of 7Jun38 and 20Jun38; see Comments on
Timner's 4th Edition, pp11/12, which came as a supplement
to DEMS 98/4)
03/3 DEMS 20/1
Duke Ellington appears in two short subjects in the Paramount Pictorial series, the first released in 1933, the second in 1937. Although the two films are identified in reference works as being Paramount Pictorial numbers "837" and "889" respectively, these numbers aren't seen on any print I have viewed, nor are they found in such files as are still extant at Paramount Pictures, nor in the official listing of Paramount's shorts ("The Blue Book of Shorts"), nor in any publication I've read from the 1930s or 40s.
Jazz film archivist Mark Cantor speculates, absent evidence as yet, that the numbers "837" and "889" may have been assigned by UM&M-TV, which purchased Paramount's catalog of shorts in 1955, or by National Television Associates, which in turn purchased the catalog from UM&M in 1956. Whatever the case, it's clear that these aren't the original numbers, as Paramount in the 1930s designated its five one-reel films with Ellington as follows:
"Irving Mills" was part III of "Paramount's Pictorial P3-1" (UM&M prints are titled "The World at Large [;] UM&M Pictorial");
"A Bundle of Blues" was "Paramount Headliner A3-2";
"A Jazz Wedding" (a title abstracted from "The Blues Book of Shorts") was one segment in "Hollywood on Parade Z3-10";
"Symphony in Black" was "Paramount Headliner A5-3";
"Record Making with Duke Ellington and his Orchestra" was part III of "Paramount Pictorial P7-2" (production #924).
The five pictures in Steven Lasker's list are documented in Klaus
Stratemann's "Day by Day and Film by Film" on pages 53; 59; 83; 119
and 145 respectively.
03/3 DEMS 20/2
Is there an explanation somewhere as to why The Flaming
Sword was not performed during the 1943 Carnegie Hall
concert? It was on the program. Was it
deemed out of sync with the rest of the compositions?
I was there. Duke came out after the intermission and announced
that there would be a change in the program and that Ko-Ko
would replace The Flaming Sword. No explanation given. I was
with a friend who told me that there would be a change. His favorite
record was Ko-Ko and mine was The Flaming Sword. He
never told me how he knew. He is long dead. I'm afraid that we will
Perhaps Hodges asked for more bread to play clarinet (all 5 reeds
play clarinet on Flaming Sword). I'm curious as to when
Hodges stopped playing clarinet with the band.
As far as the New DESOR is concerned, Johnny laid down his
clarinet between Feb and May32. He played it again on 21Dec38, but he
didn't play clarinet when the recordings of Flaming Sword were
made (17oct40 and 7Nov40). He laid down his soprano sax after
This is pure speculation on my part, but I read at p426 of
Tucker's "Ellington Reader" that Ko-Ko, originally was part of
Duke's proposed "Opera," Boola. Perhaps Duke felt that, because of
the subject matter of the 23Jan43 Concert at Carnegie Hall, Ko-Ko
was more appropriate and more familiar than Flaming Sword?
And of course Duke, according to a number of sources, substituted a
few other compositions for that concert.
Herb Jeffries' name at birth
See DEMS 00/1-11/3; 00/2-19; 00/3-6/2 and 03/2-29
03/3 DEMS 20/3
I saw Herb the other week, who when asked confirmed that his
birth name is in fact Balentino with a 'B' (as in ballet, which some
of his relatives believe may have been the original root word), "not
a 'V' like Rudolf Valentino!" (To view his birth name as inscribed in
his own handwriting, see DEMS 00/3-6/2.)
The six important Columbia releases
See DEMS 03/2-21&22
03/3 DEMS 20/4
DEMS member Georges Debroe listened to the following three
"Special Advance CDs" This is his report.
The CD "Masterpieces by Ellington" contains no surprises apart from the high quality of overall production. Those who have the French CBS series "The Complete Duke Ellington 1947-1952" Volume 4 and 5 will find nothing new with the exception of Patricia Willard's brilliant liner-notes.
The CD "Festival Session" on the other hand has several
surprises. It has two selections, V.I.P. Boogie and Jam
with Sam, released for the first time but it has also the
complete version of "Duael Fuel" part 3. On all other releases that
we have, the end of Jimmy Johnson's solo is deleted. What you find
on this CD between 4:00 and 5:00 is "fresh".
Also "fresh" for those who do not have the Sony 3 CD set C3K 65841, is the end of Perdido. On all releases other than this new CD and other than the Sony release Clark Terry's coda is faded out as well as Duke's shout: "Clark Terry!" See DEMS 00/1-16/1, Disc 3.
In addition, Duke's piano intro of Things Ain't What They Used To Be is preceded by a shout, but this is not surprising, because that is the case on all releases. Sjef Hoefsmit was mistaken, claiming that this was only so on the Sony release.
The CD "Ellington Uptown" has no fewer than 78:52 minutes
of splendid music. The Patricia Willard liner-notes provide us
finally with the correct date of the recording of Skin Deep.
On Columbia CK 40836 the date is given as 8Dec, but that is the
date that Columbia purchased the recording. Because that date was
interpreted as an European date, 12Aug is often mentioned as the
correct date for Skin Deep, see the old Desor 515 and Nielsen
p126. Timner (4th edition) has 8oct52. Benny
Aasland (Waxworks) even mentioned 10Aug52 (the reverse of 8oct).
George Avakian mentioned in his e-mail 28Feb52. We now know that it
was 29Feb52 and we can finally put this recording in its proper
chronological place in the discographies.
The CD as such doesn't seem to have any surprises. But we found a heavy one. Dance No. 5 of the Liberian Suite is an alternate!
The CD "Ellington Uptown" is commented on in DEMS 03/2-22/1
stating that Take the "A" Train had first matrix-number
CO47485. This is not correct. CO47485, presumably also 47484 was by
Guy Mitchell with Mitch Miller and His Orchestra; 48343 is the only
matrix-number I found for Take the "A" Train.
John Chacona reports that the release date for these three
Columbia Legacy albums is now 17Feb04. The release date of the other
three CDs is not known yet.
The Dooji Review
03/3 DEMS 20/5
As this sadly is the last hard-copy edition of the DEMS
Bulletin, I think it´s about time to get busy with THE DOOJI
REVIEW which has been on my mind for the past ten years. It´s
partly to be an Ellington scrap-book with all those long-forgotten
clippings from newspapers and magazines (from 1927 and onwards) and
also planned as a research journal with radio-logs, record reviews
(yes, CDs too!) and other Ellington memorabilia and a photo-section.
Each issue is to be a properly printed magazine, DIN A5, 40 pages,
If you have an interest in the above listed venture, please drop me a letter or an e-mail and I will send you additional information in due time.
Carl A. Hällström, P. O. Box 23061, SE-750 23 Uppsala, Sweden. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org