Night Lights Classic Jazz

Duke Ellington: the Treasury Shows, April 1945

Duke Ellington Treasury shows AprilIn the spring of 1945, as World War II finally began to draw to a close, Duke Ellington began “Your Saturday Date With the Duke,” a series of weekly broadcasts sponsored by the U.S. Treasury Department to promote the sale of war bonds. The sets featured classics from the Ellington songbook, pop hits of the day, obscure Ellington/Strayhorn compositions rarely or never recorded by the band, and pitches from Ellington and MCs to buy war bonds, along with occasional news bulletin interruptions. Ellington’s 1945 band, removed only a couple of years from the celebrated Blanton-Webster era of 1940-42, retained superlative musicians such as Johnny Hodges, Ray Nance, and Lawrence Brown.

The broadcasts continued through the late autumn and resumed early the following year; the one-hour programs were edited into half-hour shows that were then distributed by the Armed Forces Radio Service. Ellingtonian specialist Jerry Valburn spent 30 years tracking down the original broadcasts and restoring them to their full length. Many of the vinyl editions which appeared in the 1980s have been reissued in the past several years by Storyville Records as 2-CD sets, supplemented with other live Ellington material from the 1943-1954 era.

Two years ago I taped several month-by-month 60th-anniversary commemoration shows drawn from Ellington’s Treasury broadcasts for WFIU’s The Big Bands, and this week I’ll be posting one a day on the Night Lights site, as a sort of audio supplement to Ken Burns’ The War. Today’s program, based on the April 1945 programs, features “Blutopia,” a composition commissioned from Ellington by Paul Whiteman; the little-known tune “Frustration;” a memorial broadcast for President Franklin D. Roosevelt two days after his death in which Al Hibbler sings “Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen”; Johnny Hodges soloing on the ballad “Mood to Be Wooed”; Ray Nance performing the Ellington wartime song “A Slip of the Lip Can Sink a Ship” and the pop hit “Candy;” Joya Sherrill taking vocal honors on Johnny Mercer’s “Accentuate the Positive”; and Ben Webster stepping up on “Tonight I Shall Sleep,” taken from a 1943 Ellington war-bond rally. Click here to listen:

Duke Ellington: April 1945 Treasury Shows

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Music Heard On This Episode

Take the A Train (theme)
Duke Ellington — Ellington Treasury Shows V. 2 (D.E.T.S., 1945)
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Take the A Train (theme)
Duke Ellington — Ellington Treasury Shows V. 2 (D.E.T.S., 1945)
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Mood to Be Wooed
Duke Ellington — Treasu;ry Shows V. 2 (D.E.T.S., 1945)

Notes: Featuring Johnny Hodges.

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Blutopia
Duke Ellington — Treasury Shows V. 1 (D.E.T.S., 1945)

Notes: Commissioned from Ellington by Paul Whiteman.

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Frustration
Duke Ellington — Treasury Shows V. 1 (D.E.T.S., 1945)

Notes: Featuring baritone saxophonist Harry Carney. Ellington recorded this a couple of years later with strings for Norman Granz' JAZZ SCENE folio LP.

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Air Conditioned Jungle
Duke Ellington — Treasury Shows V. 1 (D.E.T.S., 1945)

Notes: Featuring Jimmy Hamilton on clarinet.

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A Slip of the Lip
Duke Ellington — Treasury Shows V. 1 (D.E.T.S., 1943)

Notes: From a May 1943 war bond rally, with Ray Nance on vocals.

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Bond promo
MC/Ellington — Treasury Shows V. 1 (D.E.T.S., 1943)
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Moon Mist
Duke Ellington — Treasury Shows V. 1 (D.E.T.S., 1945)

Notes: Aired April 14, 1945 as a tribute to U.S. president Franklin Roosevelt, who had died two days earlier.

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Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen
Duke Ellington — Treasury Shows V. 1 (D.E.T.S., 1945)

Notes: Continuation of FDR tribute, sung by Al Hibbler

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Candy
Duke Ellington — Treasury Shows V. 2 (D.E.T.S., 1945)

Notes: With Ray Nance on vocals, from 4/28/1945 broadcast.

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War bulletin
News announcer — Treasury Shows V. 2 (D.E.T.S., 1945)
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Teardrops in the Rain (in progress)
Duke Ellington — Treasury Shows V. 2 (D.E.T.S., 1945)
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Accentuate the Positive
Duke Ellington — Treasury Shows V. 2 (D.E.T.S., 1945)

Notes: Sung by Joya Sherrill.

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Tonight I Shall Sleep
Duke Ellington — Treasury Shows V. 2 (D.E.T.S., 1943)

Notes: Commercial version was recorded by Ellington w/Tommy Dorsey in 1945; this 1943 broadcast features Ben Webster.

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Go Away Blues
Duke Ellington — Treasury Shows V. 2 (D.E.T.S., 1943)

Notes: Featuring singer Betty Roche.

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Bond promo
MC/Ellington — Treasury Shows V. 2 (D.E.T.S., 1943)
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Creole Love Call
Duke Ellington — Treasury Shows V. 2 (D.E.T.S., 1943)
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Three Cent Stomp
Duke Ellington — Treasury Shows V. 2 (D.E.T.S., 1943)

Notes: Title refers to price of a first-class stamp.

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Any bonds today?
MC/studio orchestra — Treasury Shows V. 2 (D.E.T.S., 1943)
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David Brent Johnson

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Brent Johnson moved to Bloomington in 1991. He is an alumnus of Indiana University, and began working with WFIU in 2002. Currently, David serves as jazz producer and systems coordinator at the station. His interests include literature, history, music, writing, and movies.

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