Django's U.S. Tour 1946 Info wanted...



  • Teddy, I find that reveiw a bit weird. I suspect I am missing something. :lol:
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • JazzDawgJazzDawg New
    Posts: 264
    Well, I'm not sure about that quote being indicative of the American perspective on Django. It's more like a mainstream obligatory item put in to fill out the writers column. It's obvious that the author knew little about jazz or delta blues. There is no similarity that I've heard, other than a raw energy applied to a song. I would never mistake Mississippi Fred McDowell for Django. Then, as now, Time magazine represents only a small percentage of 'American' viewpoint.

    I can't argue that Django was held in high esteem by the vast majority of Americans of those days, most probably never heard of him. However, like many musicians today, the actual musicians playing 'know' who's who. I think I'd agree that Americans of the day were more likely to think of jazz as something only Americans could play. I think Django surprised them, and unfortunately by the time Django arrived, jazz had taken another leap from the 'Louis Armstrong Hot Jazz days'. The fact is a lot of the new jazz wasn't really heard by most anyone, except folks that went to the venues where it was being played by Bird and Dizzy. Due to the ban on recording, most radio stations would not have access to the new sounds. It's very unlikely that Django would have had much knowledge about it either.

    Duke Ellington talks about Django's music not exactly being jazz, which was that stuff they played in the 1920's. He said at the time that what folks were doing was really best described by 'who' was doing it - and the music Django played was what he called 'Django music'. That's the perspective that I find consistent in the writings I've read.

    Reading the Time magazine review from Nov. 1946 about Django's playing, just sounds like the author really wasn't really knowledgeable about Django or jazz in particular. Now, I think that's the concept that represents the American perspective of the times. Only a small percentage of folks listened to real jazz, and the rest were just listening to the 'American Idols' of the day who sometimes dabbled in it.
  • This all reminds me of a comment Bela Fleck made onstage.

    As he was doing the introductions he said the "They had just won an award for best new something jazz album and he and the rest of the group were really surprised to find out that they played "jazz". They didn't have a name for it.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • adrianadrian AmsterdamVirtuoso
    Posts: 546
    Hi there,

    I've found a Chicago Tribune column from Nov. 11, 1946, that reviews the first of Duke Ellington's two Chicago concerts in November 1946. A scan of the article is attached here.

    The columnist (Claudia Cassidy) mentions Django but, unfortunately, doesn't say anything about his playing:

    "...I will leave it to experts on the electric guitar to do Django Reinhart [sp] justice. He gets those remarkable effects in an even more remarkable fashion, by using just two fingers on his left hand. The others have been paralyzed since he was injured in a fire."

    My source for this is the Chicago Public Library, which offers a free search of the Tribune's archives online.

  • JazzDawgJazzDawg New
    Posts: 264

    Thanks for the article. The review supports the idea that most in the U.S. not only didn't really know what to think about jazz, but Django was a real mystery to them. In this review, it's at least a good thing that she was relying on her ears to give a good listen to the music. It's kind of refreshing to read a review that wasn't full of pompous parroting of someone else's critique. I think she honestly enjoyed what she heard, and I respect the fact that she was honest in her take on Django.

    I've been looking in our local library for articles on microfilm, but nothing turned up yet. Another visit planned for this weekend. One thing, our libraries don't have any of the Downbeat, Variety, or other trade magazines of the day on microfilm. Sad. Was wondering if Chicago has them. I met a librarian from Chicago over the holidays, and she's offered to help. So, looking forward to getting some info from her, too.

    BTW - like your playing, visiting your YouTube site was a nice break. Folks should check them out. Thanks again for your input.
  • JazzDawgJazzDawg New
    Posts: 264

    Looks like your dates are about 1 month off...
    The Midwest operators Johnny Antonello and Will Wittig booked Duke for:

    - Des Moines Oct 14 IA KANT AUDITORIUM or
    - Des Moines Oct 15 Kent Radio Theater (Billboard magazine)
    - Lincoln Oct 15 Pla-Mor (booked by Wittig)
    - Omaha Oct 16 AUDITORIUM
    - Kansas City Oct 18 Race Dance at KC MUNY AUDITORIUM

    Are you sure of the Lincoln date being at the Pla-Mor? I contacted them, and they said they had no knowledge of it. Could be they were just not wanting to look through their records or maybe don't have any that old. From that article about the dates losing money, it said that Will Wittig booked the Pla-Mor in Kansas City. The 2nd date in Kansas City was listed as being held at the Pla-Mor in Kansas City, but I need to confirm. I've seen ads from that time for Dances at the Pla-Mor, but none for any at the Municipal Auditorium, and it seems unlikely that any were held there - just too big a venue for a dance. Never heard of a 'KC MUNY' auditorium, so my guess is the reference means the Municipal Auditorium. In fact, the auditorium in KC has a large hall, with an adjacent Music Hall, and it's probably more likely that the concert was held in the Music Hall rather than the actual auditorium hall. In the '70s rock bands like the 'Rolling Stones', 'Emerson, Lake and Palmer', 'Jethro Tull', and others played the auditorium, while other types of music concerts, ('Bette Midler') were held in the Music Hall. Just don't see a jazz concert being in the bigger arena.

    I've got another research session scheduled this weekend, so I hope to find more on the KC dates to confirm that Django played both. Don't know what else he would be doing in KC, would have been pretty lonely without being able to speak English.
  • JazzDawgJazzDawg New
    Posts: 264
    Happy Birthday Django!!! I wanted to update this bit about the American tour. I found a couple of ads for the Kansas City Nov. 17, 1946 date. I'll try to scan them for posting later. The concert was played in Municipal Auditorium (large hall), and not the Music Hall. The ad, also, announces another event being held at the Music Hall on the same date and time, so it was a concert in the large arena. Ticket prices ranged from $2.50 for boxes and loge seats, $2.00 for balcony, and $1.50 for General Admission. The show was promoted by A. & N. Presentations. In the ad, Django was billed as "DIANGO REINHARDT - World's Greatest Guitarist". The advertisement appeared in the Kansas City Times, and The Kansas City Call Weekly newspapers. The 'Call' weekly was a Black community newspaper. It's kind of funny that both ads misspelled his name as 'Diango'.

    There was a review of the concert in the KC Star, on Nov.18, 1946, headline reads "Duke Still At The Top". The review calls the concert a 'preview of next week's Carnegie Hall concert'. It is reported that 2,000 people cheered the Duke and his band, but no mention whatsoever of the 'world's greatest guitarist'. Though, he did receive billing, I suspect that the reporter didn't know who he was or was just unimpressed. Either way, it's sad to me.

    Others in town that week, were Woody Herman, played the same venue the night before Duke, with the same ticket prices. While over at the Pla-Mor, Henry Busoe played. I did not find any information on the Nov. 17, date.
  • spatzospatzo Virtuoso
    Posts: 768
    Sorry for late answer ...

    Of course dates are to be intended as november and not october.

    On the PLA-MOR indications all the reference has to be done on Billboard review that are completely available online throught google.books ... some informations are given on Duke Ellington concerts with Django but some are contradictory in the same Billboard iossue. SO it is not very easy to rebild the whole tour.
  • spatzospatzo Virtuoso
    Posts: 768
    Here's a link indicating Pla Mor was in Lincoln... ... &Itemid=26
  • JazzDawgJazzDawg New
    Posts: 264
    Yes, I read those entries in Billboard too. Also, visited their site, and contacted the folks running it today. They have no information on who played at the venue in 1946, and I'm planning more research with their local newspapers to check for more info about that date. If anyone is in Lincoln, Nebraska, it would be a help to search the microfilm of your local newspaper to gather details.

    As you say, it is difficult to build the venues from so long ago. There was just not a lot written in mainstream newspapers about jazz or the players, unless there was a 'newsworthy' item. For example, the Pla-Mor Ballroom was considered for blacklisting by the Musicians Union for an 'racist' attack on Cab Calloway, who was attempting to enter the ballroom to visit his buddy, Lionel Hampton. The door ticket taker was a KC off-duty policeman, and refused to admit him and his buddy because, it was 'whites-only'. Even though, Cab told him who he was and that he was there at the invitation of Lionel. The disagreement gave way to pushing, shoving, cussing, and eventually Cab was pistol whipped and arrested. I did find an article on that event, but not much on Django's visit except the ad for the Nov. 17, 1946 date, and the lone review which did not mention 'Diango'. (That's the spelling used in the both ads.)

    I know there's a Pla-Mor ballroom in Lincoln, that's not in dispute, but there was also a Pla-Mor ballroom that hosted big band dances in Kansas City, and I believe the same promoter booked both venues. More later as I continue the research.
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