Advertising and publicity surrounding
Duke Ellington's first performance in Vancouver, B.C.,
April 13, 1940


Dr. Klaus Stratemann's Duke Ellington Day by Day and Film by Film (page 162) says

April 1 Show Box, Seattle, Wash. (through April 14:DB:15.3.40; Var:28.2.40p55)
Thanks to a recent lifting of a Vancouver Local 145 ban against non-Canadian bands, Ellington was able to make a brief foray in to Western Canada next:

April 15 Forum, Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Ellington's was the first American band to play in this city in more than a decade and proved a "Gold Mine" (DB-15.4.40p20), drawing more than 4,000 admissions and meeting with "enthusiastic approval."
The next day (April 16), the band appeared in Portland, Oregon.

Here are the advertisements and reviews that appeared in The Daily Province and The Vancouver Sun related to this performance:

Click thumbnails to display images
Ad, Daily Province, Apr 6, 1940  
Ad, Vancouver Sun, Apr 9, 1940  
Ad, Vancouver Sun Apr 10, 1940  
Ads, Daily Province, Apr 10 and 11, 1940
Vancouver Sun Apr 11, 1940
The same advertisement ran in these 3 papers
Vancouver Sun announcment Apr 11, 1940  
Ad-Vancouver Sun
Ad, The Daily Province Apr12, 1940
The same ad ran in both papers
Ad-Vancouver Sun
Ad, The Daily Province Apr 13,1940
The same ad ran in both papers
Ad, The Daily Province Apr.15,1940  
Ad, The Vancouver Sun Apr.15,1940  
Review-The Daily Province Apr 16, 1940 Read the story here. The photos are very dark but could possibly be lightened in an image program
Review, The Vancouver Sun, April 16, 1940 (page 13)

Old-Timer Looks at Swing

Ellington Band Wins Acclaim of Jitterbugs, but Music Critic Fails to 'Get in Groove"

Read story here

Review, The Vancouver Sun, April 16, 1940 (page 13)

Old-Timer Looks at Swing

90-Year-Old Former Dancing Teacher Amused by 'Cats'

He stood bewildered, disbelieving. This couldn't be what modern young folk called dancing.He didn't like it, but moved closer. 

Picture from Vancouver Sun review Apr 16, 1940 (page 13)

'Rug Cutters' Get 'In the Groove' for Pioneer

(Larger copy of photo)

The "hep cats" really "jived" when Duke Ellington's famous swing band got "in the groove" at the Forum Monday night, and George Markle, 90, stood by in bewilderment as the "rug cutters" galloped by him. From left are a few candid camera shots of gyrating couples "dancing" to the first "big name" band to visit Vancouver in 11 years.

Read the entire article here

The Forum, located at the Pacific National Exhibition in the eastern part of Vancouver, still exists and can be seen here.

The Daily Province, Vancouver, BC, Tuesday April 16, 1940


Thousands Here "Jitterbug" to "Duke" Ellington's Band

"Jitterbugging is all a big mistake."

So says Edward Kennedy Ellington. And Mr. Ellington, who is better known by his nickname of "Duke," should know.

But mistake or not, thousands of fans who jammed the Forum Monday night to hear Duke Ellington and his fifteen-piece band jam and jive in the hottest and most lengthy swing session ever heard in Vancouver, found no complaint with jitterbugging, or the music with the "bugs" dance.

While the majority of the capacity audience sat enthralled by the heavily-brassed band, a small portion gyrated to the Harlem King of Swing's music. But even these paused to marvel at the small, isolated groups of "hepcats" who siezed the golden opportunity to jitterbug.


A major portion of the city's negro population, ranging from a babe in arms to elderly matrons, cheered the "Duke's" numbers, the hot brass solos, and the singers. And it was the members of the swing king's race whose dancing outshone that of all comers on the floor.

The 40-year-old (and he frankly admits it) pianist and composer explained the origin of the jitterbug, while relaxing in his Hotel Vancouver suite Monday afternoon.

"Somebody saw some dancing in Harlem that particularly appealed," explained "Duke." "Then they went back to the Savoy Grill, where most of these dances are first seen, and started doing what, to the best of their memory, they had seen.

"The dance caught on, and soon Harlem was imitating the white people, totally unconscious t hey were doing someone else's conception of their own dance."

But the present trend is away from the jam session and the jitterbug, explained Mr. Ellington.


"When we play for college dances we are frequently cautioned to play sweeter and slower music than has been in vogue.

"But when we play for socialites, then we have to jam and jive. They are always a couple of years behind."

Duke Ellington, whose compositions have proved many of the most popular and lasting pieces of the age, particularly "Sophisticated Lady," was practically forced from the commercial art business to music during his school days in Washington, D.C., where he was born.

He played for a small orchestra, whose personnel changed almost nightly, at local dances in Washington to put himself through school. With five members of this early band, all of whom are still with him, he went to New York in 1923, soon to make his name wold famous in the celebrated Cotton Club.

There are two photos, one of the trumpets and one of Duke at the piano. The caption beneath the photos says:

ELLINGTON COMES TO TOWN -- Monday night, for the first time in eleven years, Vancouver's music lovers were able to dance to one of the big "name" bands -- Duke Ellington's orchestra. Thousands jammed into the Forum to hear the famed orchesatra play some of their specialties.

Top picture shows Ellington standing with the orchestra, while below the "maestro" is shown in his most characteistc pose, seated at the piano.

Vancouver Sun, page 13, April 16, 1940:

'Rug Cutters' Get 'in the Groove' for Pioneer

The "hep cats" really "jived" when Duke Ellington's famous swing band got "in the groove" at the Forum Monday night, and Georgre Markle, 90, stood by in bewilderment as the "rug cutters" galloped by him. From left are a few candid camera shots of gyrating couples "dancing" to the first "big name" band to visit Vancouver in 11 years. The first couple is "jitterbugging," the second couple is "jitterbugging" and the third couple is "jitterbugging," too. Mr. Markle is just watching. It's too much for him.

Old-Timer Looks at Swing

90-Year-Old Former Dancing Teacher Amused by 'Cats'


He stood bewildered, disbelieving.

This couldn't be what modern young folk called dancing.

He didn't like it, but moved closer.

George Markle, 77 East King Edward Avenue, was 90 years of age a week ago. Monday night I took him to hear Duke Ellington's famous swing band, and to see the modern jitterbug "cut rugs."

It was an experience George Markle won't forget.

At first he was astonished, then puzzled, and then just amused.

"Do they call that dancing?" he asked, as a stamping, posturing young couple galloped by.

"We would have placed people under observation if they had acted like that in the good old days."


He moved closer to the band and listened as the brass section tore through a piece of "music" entirely unrecognizable to him and, I must confess, to me.

I don't think he liked it.

Strangely enough, the next was a waltz.

"There. That's more like it," he approved. "Not bad at all."

The old-timer's foot was tapping out the rhythm now.

He turned to the dancers again and smiled and nodded in approval.

The moment of comparative sanity ended all too soon. The band blared out another call to action.


"Well, I suppose they have as much fun in their own way as we did in the old days," he said.

"Our dancers were just as fast as this," he said. "And they were a hundred times more graceful."

Mr. Markle was a dancing teacher for five years, back in Saginaw, Mich. That was nearly 70 years ago, before he took up lumbering, mining and wheat farming.

He pointed at two young couples dancing inside a circle of spectators on the Forum floor. They were really "truckin' on down."

"We used to do that, too," he recalled. "But we didn't make exhibitions of ourselves like that.


"We had three-piece bands then, but" - and he smiled briefly "they used to play music you could recognize.

"When we had a dance, it was an event. We quit in time to get to work at 6 a.m."

Mr. Markle sighed again and looked over the dancers.

"They are a fine looking lot of young boys and girls," he said.

"I guess you have to just throw your body around the way these young people are doing if you want to keep time to the modern swing."

"Anyhow, I think they enjoy themselves as much as they would if they could really dance."

The Vancouver Sun, Tuesday April 16, 1940:

Ellington Band Wins Acclaim of Jitterbugs

But Music Critic Fails to "Get in Groove'


Upwards of 4000 people jittered and slithered, swayed their bodies and clapped their hands to the rhythmic sounds of Duke Ellington's band at the Forum, Monday evening.

Judging by the manner that hundreds crowded round the band platform, heads nodding, arms and shoulders in time with the music, they were having the time of their lives.

The more sedate, sitting on the raised seats at the sides, beheld a sea of uptuned faces with eyes following the antics of the various performers as each took a solo part in fornt of the microphone.


The enthusiastic fans applauded, they cheered, they danced with delight as the trumpets shrieked, the saxophones and clarinets wailed, the trombones moaned and the drums beat forth a deadly rhythm.

Although it was supposed to be a dance, there were very few people actually dancing. They all seemed to be content to stand and drink in the many weird sounds emanating from the various instruments.

Occasionally a few would break away and dance. Then suddenly a circle would be formed, and some ardent youths and maidens, would be seen in the centre going through all kinds of peculiar motions with their bodies, arms and legs.


When the writer decided to review the performance of this noted dance band, he little knew how very ignorant he was of the modern dance idioms. He finds now that he has nothing in his vocabulary to describe the ear-splitting sounds that rent the air. But then, whe does a music critic know about present-day "hot" music? Even in our ignorance, we felt the "heat."

Be that as it may, it was quite evident that the vast crowde enjoyed itslef to the full and were quite happy to worship at the shrine of one of th erecognized masters of - - - -?

Some day, perhaps, we shall be given "Eyes to see and ears to hear" with intelligent understanding.

Duke Ellington and his band was a presentation of Hilker Attractions Ltd. and is the first of the top flight bands to visit Canada.