To coincide with the beginning of economic downturn in 1930, a company called Durium began producing a line of one-sided laminated paper records known as “Hit of the Week”, which were sold at newsstands rather than traditional stores. These new creations sold fairly well initially and featured some top name artists including Rudy Vallée and Morton Downey. On this particular Hit of the Week, Duke Ellington’s Cotton Club Orchestra plays under the moniker “Harlem Hot Chocolates”
Hit of the Week 1046 was recorded sometime in March of 1930, the exact date is unknown, in New York City. It went to the newsstands on May 15, 1930. The all-star Ellington lineup includes Duke on piano and directing, Arthur Whetsel, Cootie Williams, and Freddie Jenkins on trumpets, Joe “Tricky Sam” Nanton, and Juan Tizol on trombones, Barney Bigard on clarinet and tenor sax, Johnny Hodges on clarinet, soprano sax, and alto sax, Harry Carney on clarinet, alto sax, and baritone sax, Fred Guy on banjo, Wellman Braud on string bass, and Sonny Greer on the drums. Ellington’s manager, the music mogul Irving Mills sings the vocal. This session also produced a recording of “Sing You Sinners”, and was Ellington’s sole session for Hit of the Week.
Here Ellington and the boys play a fine rendition of “St. James Infirmary”, this record’s only side.
Updated with improved audio on March 31, 2018.