First, the soundtrack to get you in the mood for jazz speculation, even though the subject of this wonderful performance is romance, not authenticity of paper ephemera (anything that gives me an excuse to listen to and share Louis is always welcome):

Now, two pieces of evidence, just spotted today on eBay.  The first one comes from a Detroit newspaper, with no other details, advertising something I would have liked to participate in: a personal appearance and autograph signing by an artist I admire, Tommy Dorsey:

My questions are perhaps reasonable but at this distance, I think unanswerable.  What was the name of the record?  Should we assume that the Dorsey band was playing a gig at the State Fair?  When was this?  And (most poignantly) when can I expect the R.C.A. VICTOR DANCE CARAVAN show up to my town?

I hear some of you hissing, “Never, Michael, never!”  to which I say, “I’ll bet you think Toto is dead, too.”  The link is here — should you want this mysterious sentimental artifact for your own.

The second item also raises questions: advertised as an autographed glossy photograph of the Duke Ellington Orchestra, each member signing his name in fountain pen, a glorious photograph that I had not seen before:

And here is the Ellington link.  I was a little skeptical at first, because real on-the-spot autographs tend to be less careful, and I wondered that everyone in the band either had the same fountain pen or they passed it from one to another.  I would guess that the photograph lay flat on a table for it to be signed by all those heroes ever so neatly.  But I stopped worrying when I saw that Sonny Greer had signed “Luck always,” which is the way he signed a Jazz Panorama lp for me in the Seventies.  Perhaps someone can say why the bassist — Wellman Braud, I assume — didn’t sign.  Now there‘s a mystery.

I can’t afford the Ellington photograph, but it’s lovely to see.

If you look for me, I’ll be scanning the street for Tommy Dorsey.  And I have my own fountain pen, thank you.

May your happiness increase!


  1. Ida Melrose Shoufler

    I listened and oh how I enjoyed..Simply beautiful! Thank you for sharing it my dear nephew.

  2. Joe Spencer

    Nice photo, but expensive indeed.
    Appears that Tizol also failed to sign.

  3. TD’s involvement with the RCA “Carnival” in Detroit was–fortunately–covered in the Detroit Free Press. Tommy, Shep Fields, and a small touring cast played the Fair Grounds on Monday and Tuesday, November 3 & 4, 1941. I’ve posted a few clippings from the “TD File” to the ToNY FB group, including a nifty autographing opportunity at Hudson’s Music Store in Detroit!

  4. I’m always grateful for your marvelous sleuthing!

  5. It makes me think of what Duke would tell the band when standing after a performance…”look handsome!” And they sure do here. Wonderful picture and thanks for finding it and bringing it to our attention. I don’t search ebay for these temptations but I’m sure glad you do, Michael!

  6. Hello.Any news about the pianist Brooks Kerr who worked with Greer in the
    70 s?.

  7. Brooks Kerr died earlier this year. Sorry to be the bearer of that news.

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