When Classics began reissuing the Chronological Duke Ellington (I'll spell it right even if Classics can't) in 1990, I jumped at the chance to develop my collection of early Ellington. I was reasonably familiar with Ellington post-Newport, but I had only The Blanton-Webster Band, The Fargo Concert, and a two LP set of early Victor recordings called This Is Duke Ellington from Ellington's first thirty years. So I zealously bought each Classics CD as it came out. Two other Companies are also reissuing Ellington chronologically (Masters of Jazz and Hot N Sweet -- I'm also buying the Masters of Jazz series). Generally speaking, Classics is reissuing everything that was originally released under Ellington's leadership, while the other two companies are releasing everything Ellington recorded including both material where Ellington wasn't the leader and unissued alternate takes.

Soon I had a problem. Would you believe that I had trouble keeping straight in my mind the many different versions of certain titles that Ellington recorded? I was, and am still unable, to sort out, say, the Brunswick, Cameo, Diva, Okeh, and Victor versions of "The Mooche." I also had trouble remembering whether it was the Orchestra or Small Group version of a certain recording that came first. I thought if I wrote it all down I would either remember it better or, more likely, have a convenient place to look up these kinds of things when I forgot.

Clearly what I needed was a study guide. So one evening (it must have been a three martini evening), I decided to write one based on the liner notes to the Classics CDs. I set up a secondary file in WordPerfect and began entering data. After my first merge, it was very apparent that I did not know enough WordPerfect Merge Programming language. Off to Crown Books to pick up a guide. After quite a few weeks, I began to learn the basics of {IF NOT BLANK} and {END IF} commands.

In only a few more months, I had an Ellington Chronological Sessionography and an Alphabetical Index By Title to the Classics CDs. I found these materials to be a great help to following the broad sweep of Ellington's progress through the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s.

Some months later I had another idea I came to regret. Why not put all my other Ellington CDs into the database. As this project progressed, I discovered that in many cases the liner notes didn't provide sufficient information concerning when the titles were recorded and the personnel at each date. So I found a copy of Timner 3d and checked all of my data there. Soon I had an elaborate index to about 100 Ellington CDs.

All of this work was done on an old 286 laptop. Eventually I bought a nice Pentium and began to explore the internet. I was quite dismayed to see that there were absolutely no major Ellington internet sites (since then a few have been published and are listed under "links"). "Why not publish your Ellington database on the Internet?," I thought to myself.

I then began to teach myself HTML. I worked backwards, downloading pages and trying to figure out what all the codes meant. I have since found the various HTML guides on the internet. These helped refine what I already "knew."

I was very close to being finished when something else distracted me. Timner's fourth edition came out. I rechecked much of my data in Timner 4th. At long last I was ready to post to the internet.

Why tell this story? Well, you yourself may be thinking about putting a page on the internet. Let me tell you....

Take The 'A' Train