As a part of its promotion of its 7th War Loan Bond drive, in the spring and summer of 1945 the United States Treasury Department sponsored a series of broadcasts featuring live in-person performances by Duke Ellington and his orchestra. Aired for one hour each week,
Your Date With The Duke
Your Saturday Afternoon Date with the Duke
is one of 7 OFAM 2023 concerts presented twice:
Matinée: Sat, Aug 5, 1:30 pm
Evening: Wed, Aug 9, 7:30 pm
proved to be a popular feature on the fledgling ABC Radio Network. Broadcast from a variety of locations — usually night clubs or theaters where the Ellington band was being featured — the programs featured a wide array of compositions old and new. Listeners enjoyed classics from Ellington's band book, popular songs, familiar Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn compositions, excerpts from many of Ellington's longer compositions, and many rarely heard pieces, some of which were never commercially recorded.
As with other Stateside radio programs which were a part of its ongoing mission to provide entertainment to military personnel in the field, the Armed Forces Radio Service (AFRS) edited these shows down to 1/2 hour weekly programs retitled Date With The Duke and distributed them on 16" vinyl transcriptions throughout the world for rebroadcast via shortwave. These AFRS recordings are a fascinating glimpse into the musical world of the mid-1940s. The enthusiastic big-city audiences in attendance clearly motivate the musicians to new musical highs and soloists, not restricted to the three-minute lengths imposed by 10" 78 RPM records, often extend the length of the selections to five or six minutes of delightful free-form jazz. Chuck and company put together a program inspired by the series!