The radio program “The Duke Ellington Hour” is featured in the “Ellington on radio & video” section this week and the next.

This program was broadcasted by public radio station WAMU in Washington D.C. every Sunday night in the beginning of the 1980’s. It was put together and presented by Rob Bamberger, who still entertain and enrich us with his program “Hot Jazz Saturday Night”

It was always a special moment for an Ellington enthusiast to listen to “The Duke Ellington Hour” particularly since often music, which was not available on records, was played. This was possible thanks to the extraordinary circle of Ellington collectors in and around Washington D.C. In particular, Jack Towers shared a lot with the program.

In the program excerpt (about 15 minutes long), Bamberger presents and plays the reel tape album Duke Ellington Originals.

Pentape cover 2

The album was issued on the label Pentape by the  Pentron Corporation i Chicago – a maker of tape recorders with a good reputation.It seems to have been Pentron’s only issue of a reel tape album even if it says at the back of the box “Ask your dealer about the other fabulous Pentapes available”.

The album has for songs recorded by a septet from the Ellington Orchestra March 19, 1956 in the Universal Recording Studios in Chicago.The circumstances under which the album come into existence is not entirely clear.

On March 18-19 Ellington made some stockpile recordings in Universal Studios. Was it decided in advance that a smaller group should record for Pentron or was Pentron contacted after the recording session about a release?

However, the box from recording tape seems to indicate that there was an advance agreement.

Pentape 3

In any case, it seems that Bill Putham – the President for Universal Studios – played a particular role. The back of the album pays tribute to him: “Recorded under the personal supervision of Mr. Bill Putnam”.


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