"Duke" Ellington

b. Washington, DC
d. May 24, 1974. New York, NY, USA.
né: Edward Kennedy Ellington.
Duke Ellington brought a level of style and sophistication to Jazz that it hadn't seen before. Although he was a gifted piano player, his orchestra was his principal instrument. Like Jelly Roll Morton before him, he considered himself to be a composer and arranger, rather than just a musician.
Duke began playing music professionally in Washington, D.C. in 1917. His piano technique was influenced by stride piano players like James P. Johnson and Willie "The Lion" Smith . He first visited New York in 1922 playing with Wilber Sweatman, but the trip was unsuccessful. He returned to New York again in 1923, but this time with a group of friends from Washington D.C. They worked for a while with banjoistElmer Snowden until there was a disagreement over missing money. Ellington then became the leader.
This group was called The Washingtonians. This band worked at The Hollywood Club in Manhattan (which was later dubbed the Kentucky Club). 
During this time Sidney Bechet played briefly with the band (unfortunately he never recorded with them), but more significantly the trumpet player Bubber Miley joined the band, bringing with him his unique plunger mute style of playing. 
This sound came to be called the "Jungle Sound", and it was largely responsible for Ellington's early success.
The song "East St. Louis Toodle-Oo" is a good example of this style of playing. The group recorded their first record in 1924 ("Choo Choo (Gotta Hurry Home)" and "Rainy Nights (Rainy Days)", but the band didn't hit the big time until after Irving Mills became their manager and publisher in 1926. 
In 1927 the band re-recorded versions of "East St.Louis Toodle-Oo," debuted "Black and Tan Fantasy" and "Creole Love Call", songs that would be associated with him the for rest of his career, but what really put Ellington's Orchestra over the top was becoming the house band at the Cotton Club after King Oliver unwisely turned down the job.
Radio broadcasts from the club made Ellington famous across America and also gave him the financial security to assemble a top notch band that he could write music specifically for. Musicians tended to stay with the band for long periods of time. For example, saxophone player Harry Carney would remain with Duke nonstop from 1927 to Ellington's death in 1974.
In 1928 clarinetist Barney Bigard left King Oliver and joined the band. Ellington andBigard would later co-write one of the orchestra's signature pieces "Mood Indigo" in 1930. In 1929 Bubber Miley, was fired from the band because of his alcoholism and replaced with Cootie Williams. 
Ellington also appeared in his first film "Black and Tan" later that year. The Duke Ellington Orchestra left the Cotton Club in 1931 (although he would return on an occasional basis throughout the rest of the Thirties) and toured the U.S. and Europe.
Unlike many of their contemporaries, the Ellington Orchestra was able to make the change from the Hot Jazz of the 1920s to the Swing music of the 1930s. The song "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)" even came to define the era. This ability to adapt and grow with the times kept the Ellington Orchestra a major force in Jazz up until Duke's death in the 1970s.
Only Louis Armstrong managed to sustain such a career, but Armstrong failed to be in the artistic vanguard after the 1930s . Throughout the Forties and Fifties Ellington's fame and influence continued to grow. The band continued to produce Jazz standards like "Take the 'A' Train", "Perdido", "The 'C' Jam Blues" and "Satin Doll". In the 1960s Duke wrote several religious pieces, and composed "The Far East Suite".
He also collaborated with a very diverse group of musicians whose styles spanned the history of Jazz. He played in a trio with Charles Mingus and Max Roach, sat in with both the Louis Armstrong All-Stars and the John Coltrane Quartet, and he had a double big-band date with Count Basie. 
In the 1970s many of Ellington's long time band members had died, but the band continued to attract outstanding musicians even after Ellington's death from cancer in 1974, when his son Mercer took over the reins of the band.
~From: The Red Hot Jazz Archive
*Not very well known is that fact that Duke composed the score for Otto Preminger's film Anatomy of a Murder'. He composed over 1000 works, including such standards as "Don't Get Around Much Anymore", "Solitude", "Mood Indigo", "Take the 'A' Train", "Sophisticated Lady", and "Prelude To A Kiss". The Ellington band traveled all over the world, and appeared in motion pictures made by several studios.
Philippe Brun, Trumpet
b. Paris, France
d. Jan. 15, 1994
The first major French jazz trumpeter, Philippe Brun was one of the finest trumpeters in any country in the late 1930's. Although he originally studied violin, Brun was largely self-taught on the trumpet. He began to record and get some notice in 1929 and during the next decade he worked with Gregor, Danny Polo, Ray Ventura's Collegians, Jack Hylton (in London), Bert Ambrose, Django Reinhardt and Alix Combelle among others. During 1941-44, Brun was fortunate enough to escape to neutral Switzerland where he played music with Andre Ekyan, Teddy Stauffer and Eddie Brunner.
In the post war years, Brun generally led his own bands but strangely enough, other than three songs cut under a different name in 1954, all of his recordings as a leader (which were made for Pathe, Swing and Elite Special labels) were from the 1937-44 period. Philippe Brun never played in the United States.
~ Scott Yanow

Jacques Butler, Trumpet

Died 2003

Donald Mills, vocals
b. 29/30.
né: Donald Friedlich Mills
part of 'The Mills Brothers'.

Tino Rossi, vocals
b. France
Background information
Birth name Constantino Rossi
Born April 29, 1907
Origin Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Died September 26, 1983
Tino Rossi (April 29, 1907 — September 26, 1983) was a singer and film actor.

Born Constantino Rossi in Ajaccio, Corsica, France, he became a tenor of French cabaret and one of the great romantic idols of his time. Gifted with an operatic voice, a "Latin Lover" persona made him a movie star as well. Over his career, Rossi made hundreds of records and appeared in more than 25 films, the most notable of which was the 1953 production, Si Versailles m'était conté directed by Sacha Guitry. His romantic ballads had women swooning and his art-songs by Jules Massenet (1842-1912), Reynaldo Hahn (1875-1947), and other composers helped draw sold out audiences wherever he performed.

As a young man, he played guitar and sang at a variety of small venues in his hometown of Ajaccio before going on to perform in Marseilles and at resort clubs along the French Riviera. In the early 1930s he went to Paris and within a few years achieved enormous success, joining a Columbia Records roster that included the biggest stars of the day such as Lucienne Boyer, Damia, Pills et Tabet, Mireille, and Jean Sablon.

Rossi's success was greatly aided by songwriter Vincent Scotto (1876-1952), who wrote his first hits and collaborated with him for many years, composing and arranging many Rossi songs. Prior to World War II. Rossi was a major box office attraction in the French speaking world but expanded his audience to America with a 1938 visit followed up by wartime tours across the USA and Canada. In 1946, his song "Petit Papa Noël" sold more than thirty million copies worldwide. A Christmas classic for the family, the song still sells by the thousands each Yuletide season. The recipient of many musical awards, including the prestigious Grand Prix du Disque, Tino Rossi is the most popular personality to ever come from Corsica other than Napoleon Bonaparte.
In 1947 he married Lilia Vetti, a young dancer he met while making a film. They would have a son together in a marriage that lasted for a lifetime. A star of film and the operetta scene, Tino Rossi's career also evolved into the television era, appearing in a number of popular variety shows. Age, and the advent of rock and roll in the 1960s saw him take backstage with the new generation of music lovers but he remained enormously popular with a following built up over fifty years of performing.

In 1982, for his contribution to France and its culture, President François Mitterrand named Tino Rossi a Commander of the Legion of Honor. That same year Rossi gave his last public performance at the Casino de Paris, a show that popular demand turned into a three month stint.
 Tino Rossi died of pancreatic cancer in 1983 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine, France. His body returned to his native Ajaccio for burial in the family plot at the local cemetery. His hometown named a street and the sailing harbor in his honor and at Nogent-sur-Marne, on the River Marne in Paris, there is a square named Tino Rossi Square.
Tino Rossi

Notable Events Occurring
On This Date Include:

Leroy Carr, piano
died in Indianapolis, IN, USA.
Age: 30

Jules C. Stein
label co-founder (MCA)
died in Los Angeles, CA, USA.
Age: 85

Songs Recorded/Released
On This Date Include:


Ethel Waters accompanied by her 
Ebony Four Blue Ribbon Syncopators

Blue Ribbon Syncopators - Scratch
  • Blue Ribbon Blues
  • Memphis Sprawler
  • Whale Dip


Art Hickman and his Orchestra
  • Down The Lane With You Again
  • I Still Believe In You
  • The Winding Trail

Fletcher Henderson Orchestra

Annette Hanshaw - Just Like A Butterfly
Annette HanshawRosy Cheeks

Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra


Paul Howard's Quality Serenaders


Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds Of Joy

Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds Of Joy - I Lost My Gal From Memphis


Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra - Them There Eyes


Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra - If We Never Meet Again


Barney Bigard and his Jazzopators


Joe Sullivan and his Cafe Society Orchestra

Transcribed from Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds of Joy, vocal by Billy Massey; recorded April 29, 1930.
From Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds of Joy 1929-1931; The Chronogical Classics 655.

I lost my gal from Memphis,
She's gone to Caroline;
I know just who she went with,
A dear old pal of mine.

I ought to hop a choo-choo,
I know I ought to go,
I'd love to find my baby,
But my funds are awful low.

My gal, why did she leave me?
Sweet gal, I'm missing her so!

Oh, there ain't no gal in Memphis
As good as her around,
I've lost my gal from Memphis,
That's why I feel lowdown.

brought to you by... 
Special Thanks To:
The Red Hot Jazz Archives,
The Big Band Database, Scott Yanow, 

and all those who have provided content,
images and sound files for this site.

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