Among other things, Leonard Feather was a productive writer and jazz critic. He was a frequent contributor to jazz magazines in many countries but he also wrote books and particularly a long series of jazz encyclopedia.
It started in 1955 when Feather published his ambitious The Encyclopedia of Jazz. It was followed by The Encyclopedia Yearbook Of Jazz the year after and The Encyclopedia Yearbook of Jazz in The Sixties in 1966 .
The first edition of The Encyclopedia of Jazz was published by Horizon Press
but it is not easy to find one in good shape. Fortunately, the publisher Da Capo published a reprint of it in 1984 and it is more widely available.
The book starts with “appreciations” by Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman and John Hammond. Ellington’s is the most interesting since it is more than just an appreciation.
It exists in two version, one printed in the book and one in a tape recording, which was transcribed for the book.
Steven Lasker has very kindly given the website a copy of the recording to share with the DESS members. It is the third goodie this month and is available in the Goodies Room.
Those, who don’t have the book, can follow the link below to download and read Ellington’s appreciation.
DESS members, who has opted for the pdf version of the Bulletin, got the new issue on Monday. The printed version was posted the same day and at least the DESS members in Sweden should have started to get it today.
The cover story is about Booty Wood – “Duke’s pungent trombonist”.
The four-page article about him is written by DESS member Thomas Erikson – a specialist and great fan of Ellington’s trombonists.
He gives the readers of the Bulletin a comprehensive story of Wood’s musical career.
Lionel Hampton’s 1940’s big band, the military during the Second World War years and Erskine Hawkins’ late 1940’s band was Wood’s musical upbringing grounds according to the article and apparently he liked in particular his period with Hawkins.
During that, Wood participated in Hawkins’ recordings for Victor and one of them resulted in the album Erskine Hawkins Plays W.C. Handy For Dancing.
Wood was really in and out of the Ellington orchestra over the years and one wonders why. Was it family?
Anyhow, his first period was really only a year – from September 1959 to end of 1960 – but he left many good marks from it in Columbia recordings like Blues In The Orbit, Piano In The Background and the Nutcracker Suites, in small groups recordings under Hodges and Harry Carney’s namn and his own album Hang In and in recordings from concerts and dances.
After this period, Wood was away from the Ellington Orchestra for more than 10 years except for a short return in 1963 to play in the orchestra formed for My People. He was back in late 1969 to replace Lawrence Brown and stayed to late 1972. But the impression from article is that he was only brought back to fill a chair and handle the trombone part in traditional concert numbers. It would have been interesting to get Thomas’ view on this.
What has been written above is only some snapshots of what Thomas has to say about Booty Wood. There is much more to read in his well researched article.
Another long article in the new issue is a transcript of a presentation at the Ellington ’94 in Stockholm by Austin H. Lawrence on Bubber Miley. It is a good introduction to Miley’s life and career and is recommended as such. The article is prefaced by short introduction of Lawrence by Bo Haufman.
Among Bo Haufman’s contributions to the new Bulletin is also an interesting article about Marie Ellington.
It has also a reprint of an article about Mercer Ellington in the program for his European Tour in 1977, an excerpt from exam paper by a Swedish music student about Jimmy Blanton way of playing the bass and some thoughts by DESS member Jan-Olov Isaksson on LP and CD tributes to Duke Ellington.
There is also a follow up of the cover story in the previous Bulletin about Lil Greenwood. DESS members Bjarne Busk and Brian Koller wrote about it on the Duke-LYM site and their comments are reprinted in the new Bulletin.
Bjarne Busk has also broadcasted an hour-long program about Lil Greenwood on the Radio Jazz (http://www.radiojazz.dk/. It has a long interview with Sven-Erik Baun Christensen, who wrote the article about Greenwood, and music featuring her. The broadcast can be found in the podcast section of Radio Jazz but it is also available at the DESS website here.
There is a new video montage for DESS members available in the Goodies Room. As usual it is a mixture of old and new. But any visitor to the website will be able to watch a performance of Take The A Train with two drummers, Elvin Jones and Skeets Marsh, by clicking the arrow in the picture below. Both Jones and Marsh were subbing for Louie Bellson, who should have been on this tour, but couldn’t beause of other engagements.
From a concert in Milano, Jan. 30. 1966
We start the motage in the Goodies Room with a sequence from the 1934 movie Murder At The Vanities, where almost all members of the band can be seen individually. Quite recently we published some excerpts from the making of this film donated to us by Steven Lasker, as a Christmas gift. The musical performance is built around Franz List’s Hungarien Rhapsody and main theme is called Ebony Rhapsody.
The next is from an RAI telecast in Milano’s Teatro Lirico from January 30, 1966. The band plays an enjoyable version of Ad Lib On Nippon, a suite in four parts. Jimmy Hamilton and John Lamb are featured. The four parts of the suite are named Fugi, Igoo, Nagoya and Tokyo respectively.
From the same RAI telecast we present Duke, Ella Fitzgerald and Italian actor Vittorio Gassman. The latter performs Hamlet’s monologue (mainly in Italian) to the accompaniment of Duke, whereafter Ella and Duke together cooperates in I’m Just A Lucky So-And-So.
In 1963 and 1964 Ellington and the band recorded two telecasts for Granada in England. The first part from 1963 has the following contents: *Theme*C-Jam Blues*The Eighth Veil*Rockin’ In Rhythm*Angu*. 1963 and 1964 were truly great years for the Ellington organization.
As a closing performance we will hear Alice Babs and Johnny Hodges from the 1969 telecast of Sacred Music in Stockholm 1969. Heaven, was one of the main numbers of that telecast.
Broadcast 47 took place on 25 June, 1991. As the previous broadcast on XXXX, it was produced and presented by Fleming Sjølund-Jensen.
This time, the program is a broadcast of a full concert – Ellington’s second concert in Uppsala in the late evening of 9 November 1971.
At the time of the DR broadcast, this concert had not been issued commercially but it had been broadcasted on Swedish Radio so many collectors had it on tape.
Since then, Storyville has issued the concert on CD. It did it in the summer of 2019 and the website published a long article about it on 11 August 2019. We also made the first concert available to DESS members in a follow up article on 20 November 2019.
However, even if the concert is widely available we have decided to publish an article also about broadcast 47 to have have covered all Danish Radio’s Ellington program when the series ends in some monnths.
The program starts with Love You Madly but this time it is sung by Nell Brooksire in a 3 February, 1971 stockpile recording session.
In the beginning of this month, we published Ken Steiner’s Zoom presentation last year to TDES about Ellington 1941. Due to technical problems, this presentation had to be cut short and Ken did not get the opportunity to talk about and play Salute To Canada Lee and Billy Strayhorn’s Raincheck.
Last week, we arranged a Zoom meeting with Ken in which he did it.
In the Salute To Canada Lee broadcast, Ellington plays two songs from Jump For Joy, which was to open a week later.
Raincheck is the Victor version from 2 Dec, 1941 with Strayhorn himself is at the piano. Enjoy!
As announced last month, there will be a virtual DESS Ellington Meeting also this year.
It is organized by the editor of the website on behalf of DESS and with the support of a Program Committee.
The Meeting will take place on April 25, 26, 28 and 29 on Zoom. The language will be English as last year.
The program is ready and available in the Ellington Meeting section of the website.
12 speakers from different strata of the international Ellington community have agreed to make presentations. They will cover areas such as Duke Ellington and Leonard Bernstein, Ellington Medleys, Ellington’s Experimentation Techniques in New Orleans Suite, Boola, Dance to the Dukeand many more.
Registration will open on March 3.
Ellington turned 50 during his three weeks engagement at the Paramount Theater at Times Square in New York 20 April to 10 May 1949.
There are no traces of a big birthday party for him. It seems to have been just a normal working day with six performances to give.
However, in the breaks between the performances, Barry Ulanov interviewed him extensively for Metronome and the result was a three-page article published in the June issue of the magazine.
Judging from the article, Ulanov and Ellington talked about many things during the interviews.
One of them was the musical Ellington was working on with producer and lyricist/composer Sid Kuller to the theme of the route of the ‘A’ Train of the Independant Subway System in New York. “Oh, yes”, Ellington said according to Ulanov, “the band must play an important part in it. That’s our gimmick. To put a new sound into a Broadway theatre”.
The musical never materialized but perhaps there traces of it in the Ellington Archive at the Smithsonian?
Another topic was bebop. “Of course, bop’s in the air and naturally some people hear a little bit of it in our music”, Ellington says in the interview, “they thought there were some bop influences in The Tatooed Bride. Anyhow, I thought we offered a new departure in it.”
Ellington also commented on Charlie Parker. “He is just a great instrumentalist who’s been put in a category and just to oblige he may make a couple of bop statements here and there. But Charlie’s an individual. That’s not bop.”
Ulanov brought up atonality and counterpoint. “You know”, Ellington said about this, “the normal trends of jazz lead you lead so far from it that you can only indulge your interest in counterpoint for your own personal kicks ….. I like to do counterpoint, like it a lot.”
They also talked about the routining of musicals. “The secret of any dramatic art is routining” Ellington says in the article. “When the first show doesn’tgo over, you haven’t got a a week in New Haven and two in Philadelphia to straighten it out. You have got four or five more to do that day and six more tough days to go and you get it right by the second or third show or you are bust.”
The full article is available to DESS members in the section Articles in the Ellington Archive.
Today, DESS members can find a new video montage in the Goodies Room.
But all visitors to the website can watch Take The A Train from the movie Reveille With Beverly (above).
The montage in the Goodies Room includes the following:
1. The Perfume Suite – A short film by George Pal from 1946, described in detail by Klaus Stratemann in his book Duke Ellington Day by Day and Film by Film.
2. “Rehearsal” in Paris during the band’s summer tour in Europe in of 1950. This is an extremely rare footoge. It is possible to identify a number of sidemen that did not stay with the orchestra very long, for example Ernie Royal (brother of Marshall Royal, the Basie lead alto), Alva McCain, Nelson Williams and others. The first 10-15 seconds you will hear the sound only.
3. A short presentation of Such Sweet Thunder by Ellington and actor Tyrone Power from Oct 13 1957. The second part of this is a medley of “popular hits”.
4. El Viti played by Cat Anderson from Teatro Lirico in Milan Jan. 30 1966
5. Ed Sullivan Show, March 7, 1965. Ella Fitzgerald sings Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me
6. Ellington visits the Dean Martin Show on June 26, 1966 and plays the piano
Last year, Ken Steiner was invited by TDES to make a Zoom presentation for its members and other interested.
He chose Ellington in 1941 as topic and covered particularly Jimmie Blanton, Ivie Anderson and Jump For Joy in his presentation. It is a very good and well prepared presentation.
Unfortunately, there were some problems with the Zoom cast, particularly with the music parts. The website has got the permission from TDES and Ken to try to fix the issues with the video of the presentation and the result is below.
Feedback is welcomed!
I used to call this type of articles “Smått och gott / Bits and Pieces” but I think “Ellington News-Nyheter” is more relevant and I will call them this from now on.
DESS Bulletin 2022-1
The new issue offers – as usual – a lot of interesting reading both in Swedish and in English.
This time, the major article is about Lil Greenwood – “Duke’s Blues Belter” – who sung with the Ellington band for 30 months in the late 50’s and early 60’s.
This seven-page piece is written by DESS member Sven-Erik Baun Christensen and it gives the reader everything there is to know about Greenwood. He writes about her early career as gospel and R&B singer, her early records, her meeting and 30 months with the Ellington Orchestra and her years and appearances on the West Cost thereafter.
It is obvious that Sven-Erik has an affection for her and would like the Ellington community to learn more about her than what one finds in Ellington discographies.
In his view, her main contribution during the two and a half years with Ellington “was to bring to the band a new vocal earthiness, based in her gospel and blues background, that aroused the band and exited audiences”… “The studio recording of Walkin’ and Singin’ the Blues and the best of the concert performances released in later years are evidence that she was worthy of the distinction of being, if only for a short period, Duke Ellington’s female vocalist”.
The Bulletin has this time two more articles in English.
One is a reprint of an article in the souvenir program for Ellington’s 1958 European tour titled The Future of Jazz. It does not read like a true article written by Ellington but rather a text versioin of an interview. But who knows? Anyhow, it is interesting to read as are the comments by Bo Haufman.
The other is a contribution by Mike Zirpolo about Billy Strayhorn or more specifically about The Peaceful Side of Billy Strayhorn album. He tells how the album came about – Strayhorn was in Paris with Ellington for the Paris Blues film and one day a young American record producer approached him in a café about making a recording of his own compositions and Strayhorn said “Why not” and two days later the recording session took place – look closely into A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing.
In the issue, Bo Haufman himself has contributed two interesting articles in Swedish. One is about Ellington’s performances at Carnegie Hall and the other about the song Wanderlust which Hodges recorded with a small group on 20 December 1938.
It is most likely a Hodges composition but it is officially attributed to both Hodges and Ellington. It also appears on Duke Ellington Meets Coleman Hawkins and the Pablo album Up in Duke’s Workshop. There is also a stockpile recording of the piece from 23 May 1969.
Blue Light Winter 2021-22
Whether it is the third issue for 2021 or the first for 2022 one can discuss, but in any case it is – as Blue Light’s new editor Gareth Evans has said – “a bumper issue”. It is expanded from the usual 22 pages to 30 pages and Evans has managed to use the extra space very well.
The new issue is dominated by two major articles, which take up almost half of the 30 pages.
The first one is Roger Boyes’ A Month At The Capitol. It is another one in his very valuable and impressive series on Ellington in the 1940’s. This time, he “looks at the Ellington Orchestra’s 1943 activities in the weeks following the 30 September Philadelphia concert and it follows straight on from Stability and Change in BL 28/2.”
In the first part of the article, Boyes deals with Ellington’s month-long engagement at the Capitol Theatre on Broadway and 51st Street in October 1943.
It was apparently a very succesful engagement both artistically and financially, which is detailed in the article.
Since Shorty Baker, Nar Jones and Junior Raglin were not members of New York’s Local 802 of the Musicians’ Union, Ellington had to use temporary stand-ins during the engagement. As a result, Otto Hardwicke came back to the orchestra and Dizzy Gillespie had a brief tenure in it. There were several stand-ins for Junior Raglin but Wilson Meyers seems to have done “over half” of the subbings.
As regards Gillespie, Boyes does not only state that “Dizzy Gillespie substitued for Shorty Baker” but uses the statement as the starting point for a mini essay on the impact of Gillespie’s four weeks with Ellington on himself and on the orchestra. There are many other examples in article of this style of essay writing and they makes it even more enjoyable to read it.
The article’s second part is devoted to Ellington’s recordings of transcriptions for World Broadcasting System. They took place in two sessions in November and in December. Boyes goes through them in detail and expands particularly on new soloists and new compositions. There will be reasons to come back to this.
The second major article – The Race for Space – is written by Gareth Evans himself and is about Ellington recordings connected with the cosmic scene. The title is from an article Ellington presumably wrote in late 1957 but which was never published. It is a kind of springboard for Evans’ look at seven Ellington/Strayhorn pieces with titles associated to space or cosmos.
The first five are from Colmbia 1957-1959 albums – Ballet of the Flying Saucers (A Drum is a Woman) , Spacemen (The Cosmic Scene), Launching Pad and Duel Fuel (Festival Session) and Blues In Orbit (Blues In Orbit). The sixth one is Telstar – a stock pile recording in 1962 and the last one Moon Maiden – the result of a commission from ABC-TV.
Evans has interesting things to say about all of them and it is refreshing to get the perspectives of a younger generation of Ellington experts. I don’t think I have seen Creedence Clearwater Revival, Pink Floyd and similar artists mentioned in articles about Ellington before. Or am I wrong?
The article is accompanied by a playlist on Spotify, which includes not only the Ellington recordings but also a recording of Peter Long’s reworking of Gustav Holst’s The Planet by the Echoes of Ellington Jazz Orchestra. A nice widening of perspectives!
Among other things in the new issue I particularly recommend Fred Glueckstein’s article about the relationship between Tony Bennett and the obituary on Charlie Watts. It was very good to learn that my image of the Rolling Stones’ drummer has been totally wrong all those years. Now I know better!
Ian Bradley published the second issue of Tone Parallel some weeks ago. It is available at https://toneparallel.substack.com/p/tone-parallel-5ad.
The issue is about singer, dancer, composer Ann Henry and her composition Pockets, the dedication of the new Alvar Aalto Library at Mount Angel Abbey, a Benedictine community, near Portland in Oregon in May 1970 and Duke Ellington’s appearance there with his orchestra.
Bradley wrote about this subject about two years on his blog Ellington Live http://ellingtonlive.blogspot.com/2020/05/ but since then he has done a lot of work to find out more about Ann Henry and to improve the sound of the Vimeo video and the reel-to-reel tape which have the music from the event.
It seems fair to presume that Pockets: It’s Amazing When Love Goes On Parade was composed with the dedication of Alvar Aalto Library in mind but Bradley does not go into this, he rather focus on the work itself.
It is written in three movements. The first one is a waltz, the second one a march and the last one “meditative. Based on musical notation by Henry, Ron Collier did the orchestration and conducted the Ellington orchestra in the performance of the work on 29 May 1970. Henry herself sings the lyrical parts.
The Vimeo video with the first hour of the concert is an integral part of Bradley’s video together with an 8 minutes excerpt from a professionally restored sound track of the video and a clip from the reel-to-reel tape with Don’t Get Down On Your Knees To Pray Until You Have Forgiven Everyone sung by Tony Watkins. It is not clear if Bradley intends to share the full Ellington part with other Ellington collectors.