Duke Ellington, Monday 15 April 1940
Because of a boycott by the local musicians’ union, no big name jazz acts came to Vancouver for eleven years. Duke Ellington’s show at the Forum was the first after the ban was lifted in 1940, when swing jazz was at its peak of popularity.
Local newspaper coverage was more concerned with trying to understand the new jitterbug dance craze that accompanied swing jazz than with the music itself. An interesting footnote to Ellington’s first concert is a photo that appeared on the front page of the Sun showing a young Al Hendrix (Jimi’s father) and other hep cats demonstrating the jitterbug while a 90 year-old former dance instructor looks on in bewilderment.
Benny Goodman followed Ellington’s lead and played to an even bigger crowd at the Forum a few weeks later. Swing jazz enjoyed a subsequent heyday as the most popular music for young Vancouverites for the better part of two decades. It was eventually displaced by the “latest fad for youngsters,” rock and roll, which first came to town in 1956.
Source: Vancouver Daily Province, via EllingtonWeb.ca