Original Vintage, April, 1937, Cotton Club Program, SIGNED by the great jazz composer, pianist and orchestra leader, Duke Ellington, and additionally SIGNED by the renowned jazz tap dancers, Harold and Fayard Nicholas, to their respective program photographs. Following the closure of the renowned Cotton Club in Harlem and its highly successful 1936 reopening at Broadway and 48th Street, in Manhattan, Herman Stark and the Cotton Club owners planned an even more extravagant revue for the "Second Edition of The Cotton Club Parade" in the spring of 1937, for which this handsome program was produced. ''In fact", as Jim Haskins says in his history of the Cotton Club, the "show was the first , at the Cotton Club or anywhere else, to star so many top black performers in one production". Given the club's essentially whites only policy, for the black entertainment community this show was also very significant, because it was the first in Cotton Club history in which all the major numbers were written solely by black artists: Duke Ellington, Andy Razaf, John Redmond and Reginald Forsythe.
With his orchestra now nearing the peak of its international fame, featuring popular vocalist Ivy Anderson, Ellington's appearance marked a triumphal return to the club which had launched his career a decade before. The show also featured, Ethel Waters, another star identified with the Cotton Club's glory days, as well as popular singer George D. Washington; making their Cotton Club debut, were the exciting teen sensation tap duo, the Nicholas Brothers, Fayard and Harold, who like so many musicians and performers before them, would receive their first big break at the club. Packed with dance numbers, the revue provided a showcase for their talents, as well as a stellar and large supporting cast, in what was billed as the 'Cotton Club Express', the "fastest show the club had ever presented". The show was hugely successful, record-breaking attendance surpassed 50,000 by the end of the fourth week, and Stark had to cajole his top stars into cancelling previously scheduled engagements so as to extend the run until the middle of June, 1937.
About near fine, in glossy illustrated wraps, 9" by 12", [16pp], tightly staple bound, touch of wear to spine and top edge of front wrap, light soiling to rear wrap, b&w photo portraits of the Cotton Club Girls by James Kriegsman. Signatures are near fine in black ink and pencil without loss or skipping. Very uncommon jazz collectible, signed by a jazz icon whose rise to fame began at the Cotton Club, perhaps the most well known nightclub of its era. J1663