by Steve Voce
Duke Ellington always claimed that whenever he needed a musician he simply hired the best player available locally. He certainly made an exception when Lawrence Brown gave two weeks' notice, and Ellington cabled the young trombonist Britt Woodman in Los Angeles to come out to join the band for a season at the Thunderbird in Las Vegas in February 1951.
"Thank God I've got a fortnight to learn the book," Woodman said to Lawrence Brown when he arrived. "To hell with that," said Brown. "I'm taking off in the morning."