Archive for wpix tv

How I “Met” The Duke

Posted in The Jazz Continues... with tags , , , , on May 1, 2014 by curtjazz

Duke EllingtonI spent many hours in front of the television as a child. Growing up in the New York City area, we had at least a half-dozen stations (a lot for the 1960s) to choose from to keep us entertained. My favorite was Channel 11 (WPIX) because even then, my tastes were a little different from other kids my age. In addition to The Little Rascals, The Three Stooges and Popeye, I also enjoyed when they would drop in cartoons that were not the standard fare.

I remember seeing the animated feature below a number of times, when it was used as filler to get the programmers to their next time slot. It drew me in because the style of animation was different and the black man playing the piano was as cool and elegant as anyone I had ever seen. Even at age seven, I knew he had to be somebody special.  He was. He was Duke Ellington. The animated short was called “A Date With The Duke”. The creator was a man named George Pal and the early stop motion technique that he used to create his “Puppetoons” birthed Gumby, Wallace and Gromit, the work of Ray Harryhausen and many others that we know today. Mr. Pal also became quite controversial for his use of stereotypical black characters in some of his other shorts such as the “Jasper” series; which he tried to make amends for with “John Henry” (which was also in the regular filler rotation on Channel 11).

All of this, of course I found out many years later.  What I knew then is that I was always happy to see this “cartoon” featuring the elegant Duke Ellington and the cool perfume bottles, performing The Perfume Suite. It planted the seeds for what became a true love and appreciation for the Duke and his art.

I had been looking for it for years and I was happy again to see it pop up on YouTube recently.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and still do.