March 2012 Vol 7 No 1

THE GREAT DUKE ELLINGTON – AN IRREPLACEABLE FORCE IN AMERICAN
MUSIC
Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington was born on April 29, 1899 in Washington, DC and
died on May 24, 1974 in New York City. He was America’s greatest jazz composer,
pianist and bandleader. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969
and in 1973, the Legion of Honour by France. Both are the highest civilian honours of
each country.
Duke Ellington was a major force in jazz or “American Music” as he preferred to call it,
from the 1920s through the 1960s and his work continues to be influential today. He
had many hits including Take the A Train, Satin Doll, Rockin' in Rhythm, Mood Indigo,
Caravan and Sophisticated Lady. Throughout the 1920s and 30s, Ellington often shared
composer credit with his manager Irving Mills until they had a falling out in the late 1930s.
Billy Strayhorn became Ellington's not always credited collaborator from 1940 until
Strayhorn's death in the mid 1960s. His works were always tailored to the talents of the
musicians in his band, including Johnny Hodges, Bubber Miley, Joe "Tricky Sam" Nanton, Barney Bigard, Ben
Webster, Harry Carney, Sonny Greer, Otto Hardwicke, and Wellman Braud. Many musicians stayed with him for
decades.
ABOVE: Alex Hehr with 17 year old Liam Burrows who
visited the station recently to record an interview and
talk about his new CD. Liam is an exceptional singer
and musician (classical piano and trumpet) who began
singing at the age of 2. He has performed at the
famous Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, at
Sydney’s Tooronga Park Zoo last year and opened for
the legendary Pointer Sisters during their entire
National Tour in November.
ABOVE: Harry being presented with the Golden Microphone Award
by Loretta Simmons, Deputy President recognising Harry’s
meritorious 15 year service to Golden Days Radio
BELOW: Some of our receptionists
take a photo break at their recent
Open Forum.
Ellington started playing around Washington D.C. In his teens, he formed a band he called "The Washingtonians",
which he moved to New York City in 1923. Ellington and The Washingtonians played at various New York Clubs
and toured New England as a dance band until they got their first big break in 1927. When the then much better
known Joe "King" Oliver held out for more money at the prestigious, whites only Cotton Club, the job as house band
was offered to Ellington. This was the best known of the Harlem clubs and "Duke Ellington and his Jungle Band"
became well known nationally thanks to the regular radio broadcasts from the Cotton Club
In this setting, Ellington had a chance to write music in a variety of styles for dance theatre acts as well as extended
specialties for the band. These appearances featured many experiments in tonality, with trumpet screams and wah
-wah, and growling saxophones. When Ellington left the Cotton Club in 1931 he was one of the best known African
-American celebrities, recording regularly for several record companies and featuring in motion pictures. Ellington
continued to tour with his band around the United States and Europe, plus a tour of much of the rest of the world in
the 1960s.
He was a musical innovator all his life, recording with John Coltrane and Charles Mingus as well as with his own
highly skilled orchestra. The band reached a creative peak in the 1940s, when he wrote for an orchestra of
distinctive voices and extraordinary creativity. Some of these musicians, such as Jimmy Blanton, transformed jazz
during the short time they played with him.
But even as players left and the popularity of swing diminished, Ellington continued to find new outlets, new musical
forms and new members for his band who were neither leaders nor soloists but simply excellent musicians. He
frequently composed in longer forms modelled on classical music, such as his Black, Brown and Beige (1943), and
Such Sweet Thunder (1957), based on Shakespeare. His Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue with a rocking
saxophone interlude by Paul Gonsalves in 1956 at the Newport Jazz Festival caused a sensation and is still talked
about today by those who recall it. It made his popularity soar.
He also wrote for films, starting with Black and Tan Fantasy in 1929, but also Anatomy of a Murder (1959) with
James Stewart, in which he appeared as a bandleader and Paris Blues (1961), which featured Paul Newman and
Sidney Poitier as jazz musicians. Ellington was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1965, but was turned down. His
reaction: "Fate is being kind to me. Fate doesn't want me to be famous too young" - typical of his humility.
Duke Ellington died on May 24, 1974 of lung cancer and pneumonia and was interred in the Woodlawn Cemetery,
The Bronx, New York.
After Duke’s death in 1974, the band continued under leadership of his son, Mercer.
Listen to Ellingtonia, a quarter hour program dedicated to the music and life of the great
Duke Ellington at 10.15AM each Monday on Golden Days Radio researched and presented
by Carlos Kramer.
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Volume 7 No 1
Volume 7 No 1
Page 3
Spotlight On..... Joan Blake (Testro)
The Golden Broadcaster
Joan Blake was born in Redfern NSW on October 2nd, 1923. She hails from a family of entertainers as Joan’s father, Stan
Saunders, was part of the duo Tilton and West. Stan was Tilton and Eddie Borkward was West. They were known as “The Joy
Boys” and had a first-class show business reputation. Joan’s mother, Maggie Buckley, was also a show business personality
and was known as Australia’s Sophie Tucker.
The Official Newsletter of Golden Days Radio for Senior Citizens Inc.
Volume 7 No 1
March 2012
Joan grew up with her aunt and uncle as her parents went in separate directions. Having reached intermediate standard at
school, Joan sat for an entry exam for Stott’s Business College and received a scholarship and learned shorthand, typing and
book-keeping. She then joined the public service as a stenographer in the Health Department. Joan then became secretary to
the Superintendent of Traffic with
the Police Department.
Patron: Neil (Nobby) Clark AO
On the 26th January, Australia Day, l attended the Australia Day breakfast at the Kingston Town Hall in
Moorabbin. What a terrific morning it was. Some 600 guests were given a beaut “Aussie” breakfast and we had
the added bonus of the mighty Wurlitzer organ being played. It makes you feel very proud to be an Australian
when you hear the National Anthem and also Waltzing Matilda being played and sung. Lots of Aussie flags were
being waved and the morning also saw official speeches and a ceremony where new arrivals to Australia were
given their citizenship. It made me feel very proud and we certainly do live in the lucky country.
On the 24th of July this year, Golden Days turns 21 years of age. That date celebrates the first meeting held at the
Bentleigh RSL to adopt our name “Golden Days Radio for Senior Citizens”. Our membership around that time
was a mere 40 members. Today, we’re around 1,800.
However, we would like this number to increase
dramatically as without members, we couldn’t survive and the music just wouldn’t be played. This is where you
come in. We need many more members to assist with the revenue stream to help pay the never ending bills that we receive each month.
As we are a “seniors radio station”, many of our members are well into their senior years. We need to attract additional members. With
this in mind the Committee of Management has approved a sub-committee to look at ways by which we can attract new members to
increase our membership base. Dudley Chamberlain and Ian McLeod have taken on this task and are formulating strategies to make
this happen. If you have a suggestion to increase our membership we’d like to hear from you.
Another way to help Golden Days continue its success is to make a tax-deductible donation to the “Golden Days Radio Development
Fund”. As reported in our previous newsletter, donations of $2.00 or more are now tax deductible. If you are still paying tax, this is one
way you can help us and at the same time qualify for a tax deduction on your next tax return. Official receipts that comply with the Tax
Office rules will be posted to you.
Joan Testro (centre) with officials at a business function.
As she had a steady job with the Police Department, Joan decided not to sign the contract. She enjoyed the best of both worlds
working for the Police during the day and performing on radio at night. She was quite well known in radio by this time working on
all the top shows including Bob Dyer on 2UW who had a variety show “George and Nell” starring George Edwards and Nell
Stirling. Joan was the vocalist and sang two numbers during the show.
The ABC followed with Variety Fare which starred Stella Lamond and Max Reddy among others.
Joan tells us that her stage name was ‘Blake’ which had been pulled out of a hat at the Police Traffic branch where she worked.
In those days, you just couldn’t have two jobs in the Public Service so another name had to be found to overcome this obstacle.
During her years at 2GB which fortuitously was across the road from the Police Traffic branch, as Joan Blake, she performed at
nearly every Police Ball both in Sydney and country areas,
Joan made thirteen records in all with George Trevare’s band and so popular were they that they were sold out immediately on
release. Wouldn’t today’s artists be envious of that? Joan says however that because of the war, no records were being
imported from overseas. How lucky are we that we had the chance to listen to an Australian singing artist during this time?
Joan also says that she had the distinction of being the first person in Australia to sing ‘Mairzy Doats’.
A trip to Perth for some holidays followed where she caught up with her mother who
was appearing on the stage there. While she was in Perth, Joan met Rex Testro, an
entertainer known as the “Juggling Jester”. They married on 26th June 1946 and
honeymooned in Albany. Joan and Rex were so well known that Perth’s Sunday Mirror
featured a front page story and photograph covering their showbusiness romance.
Joan is retired these days but still sings at private parties. She is a member and regular
listener to Golden Days Radio and we are privileged to have many of Joan’s
recordings on our playlists. It’s always a delight when Joan rings the station to say
hello. Well done Joan. We wish you many Golden Days of happy listening.
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Phone: 9572 1466
Fax: 9572 1455
Email: m[email protected]
Message from the President :-
Around this time, Joan’s mother
returned
to
Sydney
after
performing to audiences all over
Australia and New Zealand. She
was to appear at a charity show
at the showgrounds during the
Second World War but became
was ill and was unable to appearso she suggested that Joan
appear in her place.
Well, that was it. Joan appeared
and was suddenly in show
business.
She
is
most
appreciative of Kath Lane of
Albert’s
Music
Publishing
Company
who
was
really
responsible for her getting into
show business.
Following her
performance, Joan was offered a
contract with the famous George
Patterson advertising agency to
appear in various radio shows
which starred Jack Davey.
Golden Days Radio For Senior Citizens Inc
PO Box 287
Glen Huntly, Victoria 3163
A member of the CBAA and the CBAV
WANT TO LISTEN TO GDR
STREAMING?
Go to the GDR website at
goldendaysradio.com
And simply click anywhere on the
radio on the first page!
Volume 7 No 1
Community News has returned to the air this year with a host of topics of interest to seniors. Do you have a topic or an idea for a
segment in Community News? If you have, you can get in touch with us and we’ll follow up your idea. Call us on 9572 1466 and leave a
message for us to contact you. Happy listening!
Larry James
From the Station Manager’s Desk. . . .
This year looks as though it is going to be as busy for us as was last year. There are a significant number of projects on our to-do list
and no doubt, you will hear more on those as the year unfolds. Our three studios are providing listeners with quality broadcasts 24
hours a day. The studios are undergoing upgrades to a new operating system. This is just one of a number of necessary technical
improvements as we move with the times.
Since the last newsletter we have seen several presenters leave and we have welcomed a number of new people to the line up. It
seems to be a moveable feast recently.
There has been a huge increase in the number of people listening to GDR "on line" (through the internet). In March 2011 there was
an average of 1060 people listening weekly and in January 2012 that figure grew to 2409, a growth of 143%. This continues to be a
significant growth area for us.
I would like to thank all of our volunteers for their ongoing efforts. GDR is a wonderful example of how volunteerism works at it's very
best.
Alex Hehr