Barrie Lee Hall Jr.

Rarely does the phone ring at 3 a.m. with good news. But nearly 37 years ago, when Barrie Lee Hall Jr.’s mother-in-law woke him because there was “some ‘Duke’ on the phone,” the early-morning call launched a career.

The “Duke” on the phone was Duke Ellington.

Hall was an aspiring trumpet player at Texas Southern University. Hours before, he had met Ellington at the Shamrock Hilton show in Houston, where a friend had even bragged about Hall’s musical accomplishments.

“Duke says, ‘Oh, yeah? How come he’s not playing in my band?’ and he takes my number down,’ ” Hall said, remembering a conversation from 1972 with the band leader and pianist.

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