Duke Ellington spent roughly a month in Paris from early December 1960 to early January 1961 together with Billy Strayhorn to work on Paris Blues. They had started to do this already in November when Ellington went to Hollywood to work with Strayhorn on the music. The entry 1960-11-21 in TDWAW discuss the contradictory information available about the trip.
During his stay in Paris, Ellington was invited to appear on the popular television program ”Rendez-Vous avec ….. ” produced by the television presenter Jacqueline Joubert.
The format of the Rendez-Vous programs was very simple. Joubert was the host and invited a French singer to be interviewed and sing some songs, most often chansons or other popular French songs of the day. In most of the programs, there were also an exceptional guest invited for an interview and performance.
François Moulé did some research on the program some years back and could establish that the Rendez-Vous program in which Ellington appeared was broadcasted on December 23, 1960 and recorded on 17 December.
The French singer in the program was Jean Sablon
He was a very popular and highly respected singer with a repertoire of popular French songs and jazz. He moved to the U.S.A. in the 1930’s where he had a successful career recording French and American music,, appearing in radio programs, films and shows. He returned partly to France and Europe in the 1950’s but continued to perform parallel in the U.S.A. until the 1960’s. I recommend his biography on Wikipedia to learn more about him.
Sablon dominates the 31 minute program but Ellington appears for about 13 minutes in it . They are split in thre segments.
In the first one, the camera zooms from Joubert and Sablon to Ellington playing a short excerpt of Sugar Rum Cherry. They ask Ellington what he is doing in Paris and Ellington explains that he is in Paris to write the music for Paris Blues. ”Can you play something for us” asks Sablon and Ellington gives them a little bit of the Partis Blues Theme.
In the next segment Ellington plays a long medley with Take The ”A” Train / Do Nothin Till You Here From Me / In A Sentimental Mood / Just Squeeze Me / Prelude To A Kiss / I Let A Song Go Out of My Heart /Don’t Get Around Much Anymore / I Got It Bad /I’m Beginning To See The Light / Sophisticated Lady /Caravan / Mood Indigo.
In the final segment, Ellington sits alone and starts to play Take The A Train, Sablon and Joubert enters and she asks if Sablon can sing an Ellington songs. Ellington plays an introduction to Solitude and Sablon gives the TV viewers a full version.
I have combined the three segments to a 13 minutes clip, which DESS members can watch in the Goodies Room.