Sandy Brown Jazz

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On A Night Like This, The Story Is Told ...

Censoring Ellington

 

 

Duke Ellington Broadcast

 

'An odd instance of the thirteen (Friday or not) superstition in the Ellington make-up comes to mind. It was the year that he was writing, with the collaboration of Henry Nemo and others, the entire score for the Cotton Club show. He had completed twelve songs, but he decided that unless he turned out thirteen, it wouldn't be lucky.'

'So he composed a thirteenth song .... It was called I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart.'

'Speaking of song titles reminds me of the amusing go-around we experienced with radio censorship about fifteen years ago, when we were celebrating Duke's tenth anniversary in music business (and his birthday) with a matinée party at the Cotton Club and a special broadcast to England through the facilities of the BBC.'

'We had cleared the numbers for the broadcast in customary fashion when this worried girl assistant 'phoned from the station. They were in serious doubt about, it seemed, about the propriety of two of the titles scheduled, Hip Chick and Dinah's In A Jam.'

 

Listen to Duke Ellington's Orchestra playing Dinah's In A Jam.

 

 

 

'My efforts to assure her (and the censor board) that the Hip in the first title had nothing to do with hips, and that the jam version of Dinah was not even remotely connected with pregnancy were unavailing. Since both were instrumental numbers, we switched the titles to more innocuous ones and played them anyway.'

'I've often wondered since about the condition of the wigs of the busy radio censors if they ever learned the truth about the significance of such recorded titles as The Skrontch, T.T. on Toast, Warm Valley, and others.'

 

Listen to T.T. On Toast.

 

 

 

 

Ned E. Williams (Downbeat Magazine) in Hear Me Talkin' To Ya edited by Nat Shapiro and Nat Hentoff

 

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