Original Vintage Concert Program, “The Biggest Show Of ‘51”. Boldly SIGNED in ink at their centre page spread photograph by Nat “King” Cole and Duke Ellington, and SIGNED in pencil on her program photo by Sarah Vaughan. SIGNED again and inscribed “Love you madly” by Duke Ellington on his program photo. Billed as “the biggest Negro talent package ever assembled….with a huge weekly overhead…of $25,000”, “The Biggest Show Of ‘51”, kicked off on Sept. 21, 1951 in Boston, and after an extensive and grueling tour of the US and Canada, ended on Nov. 28 with two dates in Ohio. The package was partly fashioned after a vaudeville show, featuring seasoned performers including dancers Maria Bryant and Peg Leg Bates, comedians Stump & Stumpie and Patterson & Jackson, all backed by the Ellington Orchestra; but the real stars of the show were the Duke and two of the most popular singers on the planet, Sarah Vaughan and Nat Cole, both of whom fronted the Ellington band during the two hour concerts, with Cole also appearing at the piano with his trio. Leonard Feather, reviewing a sold out performance at Carnegie Hall for Downbeat magazine, observed that “the Ellington band currently boasts the most expensive vocal team in history: a girl singer named Vaughan and a boy singer named Cole…After their co-starring tour breaks up, maybe Duke could put them on the payroll. For a mere twelve grand a week he’d have himself a bargain”.
Handsome tour program, in original pictorial wraps, 12” by 9”, [16pp], tightly staple bound, [12pp],with photos and bios of all the performers, light rubbing and creasing to the wraps, touch of spotting to top page edges, archival japan paper repair to last page at the spine, else, very good +, tightly bound. The autographs are fine without loss, skipping or fading; the Ellington and Cole signatures are among the nicest we’ve had. Vintage signed jazz ephemera signed by a trio of jazz luminaries in collectible condition. J1859