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Stockholm 2004 revisited (1)

The 19th Duke Ellington Study Group conference took place in Stockholm May 12-15, 2004. Sven Eriksson – DESS member, Ellington collector, hi-fi expert and much more – recorded the proceedings on his cassette player and the result was 13 cassette tapes of music and presentations.

The box with Sjef Hoefsmit’s video and sounds tapes from the Study Group conferences included copies of them and this week the website will give a couple of examples of what is on the tapes.

Jan Bruér – musicologist, jazz historian, music producer, Ellington expert etc. – started the first full day of the conference with a presentation – ”Ellington In Swedish” – about Ellington music played by Swedish musicians. As you can here, he covered a lot of ground from the early 1940s to the 1970s. Many of the conference participants must have heard the music in the presentation for the first time.

Tapes from Study Group conferences

The 24 Duke Ellington Study Group conferences have been documented in photos, sound and video recordings, articles in the DEMS Bulletin, the DESS Bulletin, Blue Light and similar publication etc. Except for the articles, this material is not easily accessible for Ellington aficionados and is often buried in archives or personal collection.

The late Sjef Hoefsmit – the eminent Ellington scholar and editor of the DEMS Bulletin – took part in all Study Group conferences from 1982 to 2008 and in 1986 he started to document the proceedings of the conferences with his video camera. He was also given copies of sound recordings of some conferences. After his passing away in 2012, all the tapes has been hidden away in a box in Hoefsmit’s study and later in the basement of his daughter Babette’s basement.

The box with some 140 tapes was recently donated to the DESS website.

The website will do its outmost to convert them to digital format and make them available through it.

A project group composed of Louis Tavecchio, Joe Medjuk, David Palmquist and the editor of the website has been formed. It will oversee and guide the work. The group is an open one so anyone, who would like to be part of it and contribute to its work is welcome.

A list of the tapes is available here.

Conover interviews Ellington 1973

Willis Conover and Duke Ellington were good friends and they got to know each other already when Conover arrived in Washington D.C. in the late 1940’s.

Source: Digital Library, North Texas University, Willis Conover Collection

Over the years, Conover interviewed Ellington many times and when one listens to the interviews, it is obvious that the two men respected each other highly.  This comes through very clearly in this last interview that Conover made with Ellington in April 1973.

Source: Digital Library, North Texas University, Willis Conover Collection


Meet The Composer

On September 24 last year, the website published a post with a radio program from 1949 with Willis Conover playing Ellington music. By that time, Conover was working for Voice of America.

However, one of his first jobs when he arrived in Washington D.C. was with radio station WWDC which he joined in 1946.

His task at the station was to put together and presented jazz programs.

In its May 22, 1948 issue, Billboard reported that Conover organized a jam sessions series on Sunday nights and that the third one was going to feature Duke Ellington and his orchestra. Unfortunately, I have not managed to find a date for this concert and no recording seems to exist of it.

Another program series with Conover as presenter was ”Meet the Composer” – a series sponsored by the Custom Upholstery Company. On October 31, 1948, Ellington was the featured composer. Only the first part seems to have been preserved but it has been digitized and is available in the digital library of University of North Texas, which is home to the Willis Conover Collection.

The program features well-known songs from Ellington’s early career – Take The ”A” Train, Mood Indigo, The Mooche – and in between them Conover talks about Ellington.

Danish Radio Ellington Broadcasts – Program 16

The 16th program in the Duke Ellington series broadcasted by the Danish Radio in the mid-1980s based on the Mercer Ellington donation is the second ”Goodie” for May.

As usual, it is available in the ”Goodies of the Month” section of the DESS Lobby (DESS-rummet).

The program was broadcasted on March 15, 1985.

The broadcast is  comprised of excerpts from Ellington’s 1964 Carnegie Hall concert. It took place on March 29, 1964 just after he had returned from his five week-long tour of Europe. The program of the concert was more or less the same as the one of the European concerts.

It starts with four selections from ”Impressions from the Far East” (later to be known as ”Far East Suite”) – Amad, Agra, Bluebird of Delhi and Isfahan. Johnny Hodges, who is the featured soloist in Isfahan, continues in this role in Things Ain’t What They Used To and The Banquet Scene  from ”Timons of Athen”. Next in the broadcast comes another part of the suite  –Skillipoop – in which Jimmy Hamilton and Sam Woodyard are at the forefront.

The broadcast ends with three well-known concert numbers – Monologue (Pretty and the Wolf), Jam With Sam and Jones. They were also the final numbers in the Carnegie Hall Concert.

The full Carnegie Hall concert has been issued on CD by the Italian labels Jazz Up and Moon.

Ellington in Stockholm 1965 (3)

In a post on April 20, the website published some photos from Ellington’s concert in Stockholm on February 2, 1965 taken by the film photographer (and much more) Roland Sterner.

Here are some more of his photos.

A short bio of Sterner is available on the website here.



Föredrag av Gert Palmcrantz

Göran Axelsson spelade in Gert Palmcrantz’ föredrag på DESS-mötet den 27 april så att DESS-medlemmar som inte var närvarande nu kan lyssna på det i Ellington-arkivet.

Göran har gett webbplatsen följande kommentar till inspelningen.

”I DESS Bulletin 2017-02 såg jag inbjudan till medlemsmötet 28 april. Jag förstod att Gerts presentation skulle bli både något unikt för DESS och förmodligen även något alldeles enastående.

Eftersom Sällskapet har många medlemmar som inte har möjlighet att komma på medlemsmöten fick jag idén att försöka spela in Gerts presentation så att den kunde bli tillgänglig för alla DESS medlemmar.

Jag har ingen speciell inspelningsutrustning, men den nyinköpta smartphonen har ganska bra inbyggd mikrofon och ett stort minne – jag ville prova.

Gert Palmcrantz gav sitt medgivande till att inspelningen görs tillgänglig för alla DESS medlemmar via DESS’ webbplats i Ellington-arkivet.

Ett stort tack till Gert för detta!

Efter presentationen fick jag tillgång till Gerts manus med en spellista som innehåller värdefulla detaljer om musiken. Det framgår att Gert spelade 16 unika inspelningar av Duke Ellingtons musik. Ellingtons orkester spelade det första stycket.

Gert talade utan mikrofon och spelade upp musiken med två stora högtalare. Det blev ett ”nybörjarfel” av mig att talet har en lägre volym än musiken, men jag tror att du ska kunna ta del av vad han sade. Vrid gärna upp volymen!

Jag ha lyssnat 2 gånger på inspelningen – och vill intyga att Gerts presentation är enastående.”


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