The summer issue of Blue Light arrived in my mailbox in early July. It is marked by the sad passing away of DESUK chairman Geoff Smith in March last year but also provides some good Ellington reading.
The key feature is a 10 pages long article on Ellington at the piano. It is written by Jack Chambers – a regular contributor to Blue Light.
He guides us through Ellington’s stylistic development as a pianist from someone being firmly anchored in the stride piano tradition to a man open to venture into post bop styles.
Chambers singles out the two LP albums – The Duke Plays Ellington (aka Piano Reflections) on Capitol and Money Jungle on United Artists – as highlights in Ellington’s pianist career. His reason: they are major advances in his way of dealing with the piano.
However, his choice for the ONE piano performance is the spontaneously played Lotus Blossom at the end of one of the recording sessions for the “…And His Mother Called Him Bill” album.
Chambers also considers that the recital at the Whitney Museum in New York in 1972 – eternalized in the “Live at the Whitney” CD album – “might be the most comprehensive view of Ellington as a piano player”.
The original article was apparently written some years ago and even if it has been revised and updated there are a couple of mistakes.
On page 7 Chambers writes about the Paramount recording of Jig Walk which for almost 2o years is considered as a non-Ellington recording. He also says (page 11 and 15) that the recital at the MOMA in 1962 is unissued but Maison de Duke made it available on CD almost 10 years ago.
In addition to Chamber’s article, Blue Light provides us with reviews of recently issued Ellington CDs and concerts with Ellington music.