An Evening At The White House

Duke Ellington

Highlights from Ellington’s 70th birthday celebration

In 1969, Duke Ellington celebrated his 70th birthday at a special ceremony and concert hosted at the White House by Richard Nixon.

This short and fascinating documentary, which is narrated by Willis Conover, shows some of the guests arriving (including Cab Calloway, Benny Goodman, and Dizzy Gillespie) and has short musical excerpts from the night’s White House jam session.

Among those seen in musical excerpts are Paul Desmond, Clark Terry, Gerry Mulligan, Jim Hall, a beaming Earl Hines, Billy Taylor, Joe Williams, Dave Brubeck, Louie Bellson, Milt Hinton and Willie “The Lion” Smith.

Richard Nixon plays the genial host and Ellington improvises a ballad dedicated to Pat Nixon.

-Scott Yanow