Thursday, May 7, 2020

British Big Band Jazz: The Duke Ellington-Influenced Alan Cohen Band Plays Oracle (1968)

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Duke Ellington's Solo Piano at WWDC, 1946

Duke Ellington and Willis Conover

In the wee hours of April 21, 1946, Duke Ellington who was visiting Washington DC for a series of concerts at the Howard Theater, dropped in at WWDC station. 

The Duke's presence in his hometown was an auspicious event for Conover who recorded some shows and interviews with him for his radio station, celebrating Duke's homecoming. That day, at about two in the morning, Duke started tossing down some notes on the keys. Billy Strayhorn, Oscar Pettiford and some other members of his entourage were standing in the background. It was midnight music: heavy, messy, mysterious, rambling. Upon finishing the first piece, Willis Conover informed him that the whole thing was recorded on disc. Ellington sounded surprised but he kept playing while Conover and others chatted in the background. The chat died down, the music continued. When Ellington finished it was 2:35 AM. "Can I have a copy of that?," Ellington asked Conover.

Whether or not Ellington got a copy, we don't know. But we have a copy here to listen to: