The second day of the conference ended with a concert by Doug Richard’s Great American Music Ensemble. It provided the audience with “A Panorama of Ellington’s Music From The Late 20’s To The Late 50’s”. As an extra bonus, Jimmy Hamilton and Herb Jeffries appeared as guest artists and made the concert a very special and memorable event of the conference.
The orchestra, also known under its acronym GAME, was formed in the mid-80s when Richards was director of Jazz Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. It made a recording of standards from the Great American Songbook in 2001 but it was only released in 2016 on the Jazzed Media label.
Here is the full two-and-a-half hour concert (except for the very end, which will be published on April 29).
Besides the presentations included in the previous article on the conference, there were two more on the second day.
Dr. Ted Hudson – active member of Chapter 90 and much more – gave a presentation on “Literary Sources For Ellington’s Music”.
It ends with a filmed performance of a song – “Heart of Harlem” – that Ellington and Langston Hughes apparently wrote together. Ellington copyrighted it in 1945.
And Dr. Joseph McLaren talked about “Ellington’s Afro-American Heritage”.
Storviks järnvägsstation som den kan ha sett ut vid Ellingtons besök 1939
Många av våra medlemmar kanske är osäkra på var man kan hitta Storvik på världskartan, eftersom orten idag kan tyckas obetydlig. På 1800-talets senare hälft då man byggde stambanorna i Sverige hade man kommit fram till att två viktiga järnvägslinjer skulle korsa varandra här, vilket gjorde att det lilla samhället blev en viktig trafikknutpunkt. Orten är idag en del av Sandvikens kommun och tågen fortsätter att passera här, men stationen är numera knappast i ursprungligt bruk.
Duke Ellington och hans orkester gjorde i april 1939 en månadslång turné i nord- och västeuropa och besökte bl.a. Frankrike, Holland och Belgien, men huvuddelen av turnén tillbringades i Sverige, som tycks ha utgjort huvudmålet för Duke och hans mannar. Den 22 april hade orkestern kommit till Eskilstuna där man hade en konsert och nästa morgon satte man sig på tåget till Storvik, där man skulle ha en konsert kl 14.30 på eftermiddagen för att senare fortsätta med tåg till Uppsala där ytterligare en konsert skulle gå av stapeln. Nedan ses några tidningsnotiser om det kommande evenemanget. (more…)
Jimmy Jones also took part in the birthday party
The first part of Bob Udkoff’s birthday party ended with Duke at the piano playing New World A-Comin’, an important composition of his from the first part of the 1940’s. After a number of attemped intros, the second part of the celebrations starts with New York City Blues, a sweet little tune that was introduced at Carnegie Hall in 1947 and very seldom played in later years. Jimmy Jones joins Ellington at the piano in Fats Waller’s Just Squeeze Me, and then Johnny Hodges plays in his usual solo style Drag, Prelude To A Kiss and Things Ain’t What they Used To Be, the latter being cut short because the tape ran out.
New York City Blues and birthday chatter
After Johnny Hodges’ performances, it is Cootie Williams’ turn to handle I’m Beginning To See The Light and then Satin Doll is played yet another time as background to Duke’s introduction of Bob Udkoff and his wife Evelyn which is followed by a speech by Udkoff and a joint performance of the band and guests of Happy Birthday. (more…)
The second issue of the DESS Bulletin is on its way to the DESS members and some might already have got it in their mailboxes.
It is an issue with total focus on Cat Anderson except for some DESS house-keeping information.
It starts with the presentation that the late Ellington specialist and aficinado, Alexandre Rado, made at the Ellington ’94 conference in Stockholm about his friend Cat Anderson. A video with his presentation was published on the DESS website on December 3 last year and can be viewed here.
Bo Haufman, the editor of the DESS Bulletin, contributes an interesting articles about “The Cat” as a composer and has transcribed an interview with him, which was published in a Facebook group last year.
The Chairman of DESS, Leif Jönsson, writes very personally about “My Cat”, for which he has a particular fondness and admiration and the new issue of the Bulletin also includes a reprint of an article about Cat Anderson by the late Leif Anderson in the Swedish jazz magazine Orkesterjournalen in April 1963.
It provides also a discography of Cat Anderson’s recordings under his own name and some examples of video- and sound files with Cat Anderson on YouTube.
The second day of the conference also had a very full program.
and the President of Chapter 90 of the Ellington Society, Terrell Allen, guided the audience through it with firm hands but also with a lot of jokes.
It started with the handing over of the Eddie Lambert gavel and some welcoming words.
Then Jerry Valburn asked Sjef Hoefsmit, Klaus Strateman, Gordon Ewing and “the young man” Steven Lasker to join him at the podium for a discussion on ongoing research about Ellington.
The full video of the panel discussion is in Ellington Archive
Kurt Dietrich from Ripon College in Ripon, Wisconsin then took the floor. He came to the conference to tell about his PhD work on Lawrence Brown and to get some feed-back from the Ellington specialists gathered at the conference.
Follwing his doctoral dissertation and a number of journal articles, he published in 1999 his book, Duke’s ’Bones: Ellington’s Great Trombonists. It was follwed 10 years later by another book on a similar topic Jazz ’Bones: The World of Jazz Trombone. Both are highly recommended!
Another speaker during the second day was Andrew Homzy from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada – musicologist, arranger, big band leader, Duke Ellington as well as Charlie Mingus specialist and much more. He was a well-known profile at many Ellington Study Group conferences and is still an important part of the international network of Ellington aficionados and specialists.
This time he talked about Ellington’s La Plus Belle Africane.
Two other speakers during the second day were Bruce Kennan, member of the New York Chapter of the Duke Ellington Society, and Martin Williams.
The topic for Kennan’s presentation was “Spoken Ellington” and he let the the audience listen to excerpts from a number of Ellington interviews.
Martin Williams spoke about “Stealing from the Duke” and made his point with musical examples.
The other presentations from the second day of the Washington ’89 conference will be included in a later article together with some from the third day.
The day ended with a concert by Doug Richard’s The Great Americ Music Ensemble, which gave a panorama of Ellington’s music from the late 20’s to the late 50’s. Here is a tidbit from the concert. The full one will be included in the next article.
Bob Udkoff was born in Chicago but moved later to California and settled in Los Angeles. He was a lifelong friend and associate of Duke Ellington, Joe Williams, Kenny Burrell and many others in the jazz world. He had a successful career as a founder of Blue Haven Pools.
Duke and Udkoff had been friends since 1934 when Udkoff worked for a dry cleaner and dropped off Duke’s clothes at the Dunbar Hotel in Los Angeles where Duke was staying.
When Bob Udkoff celebrated his 50th birthday on April 17, 1968 at Cabellero Country Club in Los Angeles, Duke Ellington and his Orchestra provided the music and took part in the celebrations.
Udkoff recorded privately about four hours of music by Duke and his men, and also by other guests.
A few years ago these tapes found their way to Sjef Hoefsmit with the stated purpose that he could make them available to Ellington fans on a non-commercial basis. The material fills 3 CD records and today we are happy to offer the content of the first one to the DESS-members for listening and downloading in the Goodies Room. This is possible thanks to the generosity of Mark Cantor – the jazz film specialist with his website http://jazz-on-film.com/ – who has provided us with the files.
Duke played a lot of piano solos, with the band joining in now and then. No charts were used by the band members, but this of course was familiar ground to all of them. Duke starts with Salute To Morgan State and I Can’t Get Started. There is sometimes a rather loud chatter from the birthday guests, which is one reason why these performances were not judged feasible for commercial issue.
Duke at the piano
(the top picture is not from this session)
The band joins in on I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart and Don’t Get Around Much Anymore where Johnny Hodges is heard soloing. Next, Jimmy Jones takes over as piano player with Cat Anderson as the soloist in Satin Doll. Lawrence Brown is the trombone player heard on I Left My Heart In San Fransisco whereafter The Twitch is played by Duke and the full band.
Mood Indigo is played in usual fashion after a few different introductions and after a short interlude. Cootie Williams is the soloist in Fly Me To The Moon. Next is a new performance of Satin Doll with Duke at the piano and with Paul Gonsalves playing tenor. This is followed by Duke playing solo piano on Dance No 3 from the Liberian Suite after which we can hear Clark Terry playing in Stompin’ At The Savoy. At the end of this CD, Duke again is at the piano playing Blue Belles of Harlem, Meditation and New World A-Comin’.
No attempt has been made at editing this recording, which means that the listener has to accept some interruptions and guest chatter. Nevertheless, listening to this recording could be of interest to the DESS members. We hope you’ll enjoy it!
The report from Ellington ’89 that appeared in the 1989-3 issue of the DEMS Bulletin, says “that visitors from abroad appreciated the Smithsonian all-day as ideal”.
For most of them, it was the first visit to the Smithsonian Institution and its National Museum of American History and they got treated to a full day of presentations on the Ellington Collection established the year before.
The Director of the National Museum of American history, Robert G. Kennedy, welcomed the conference participants to the museum and introduced the Ellington Collection together with John E. Hasse, Curator of American Music since 1984.
Hasse also spoke about the museum’s collection on “Development of Jazz” more generally.
Mark Tucker, who had been among the first to make use of the Ellington Collection for his research, followed Hasse and spoke about the music in the Collection
In the afternoon session, there were presentations by, among others, Martin Williams and Patricia Willard.
Williams, the author of many book on jazz, presented his work for the Smithsonian on an upcoming book-and-record-set to be called “Duke Ellington: Masterpieces 1926-1968“.
Unfortunately, for a number of reasons, the album never appeared.
However, in 1994 John E. Hasse produced for the Smithsonian Collection of Recordings a two-CD set with a 28-page booklet. Slightly paraphrasing the title of his book on Ellington published the year before, It was called “Beyond Category: The Musical Genius of Duke Ellington“.
The topic for Willard’s presentation was “Billy Strayhorn and the Ellington Collection”. She really foreshadows the importance of the Ellington Collection to ensure Strayhorn’s proper place in the Ellington legacy.
Other presentations on the Ellington Collection during the day – like the one by Marcia Greenlee on “The Smithsonian’s Oral History Project On Duke Ellington” – can be found in the Ellington Archive.
Congressman John Conyers, who had been instrumental in securing Congressional funding for the Ellington Collection, and Mercer Ellington were honored guests at the opening. Their speeches are also in the website’s Ellington Archive.
Finally, after a long day, it was time to summarize and thank everybody. John Hasse did this.
The Ellington Conference in Birmingham
There is still no website for the conference but it seems for sure that it will take place. The facility for buying conference tickets is up and running. Go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/25th-duke-ellington-conference-3-day-tickets-tickets-44978484859.
A three-day ticket to the conference costs £75 and one-day tickets will cost £30 for the Friday events, £35 for Saturday and £15 for Sunday.
Have trust in the organizers, buy your ticket(s) and book flight and hotel asap!
Jump For Joy documentary
A documentary about the musical revue is under preparation by a team in Los Angeles. One member of it is the jazz film specialist Mark Cantor, which should guarantee that it will be of high quality. It is still not known when it will be released. The DESS website will keep you posted.
Those of you that are not aware of Cantor’s fabulous website “Jazz on Film (http://jazz-on-film.com) are strongly adviced to visit it. It is a treasury of information about films with jazz elements, especially from the 1930s and 1940s, and a labour of love.
Spring issue of Blue Light 2018 and 2016
The latest issue of DESUK’s Blue Light has arrived in the mailbox. Once again, its editor Ian Bradley provides a lot of interesting Ellington read.
The issue is dominated by the third installment of the series on Irving Mills’ Advertising Manuals for Ellington. This time it is a reprint of a third manual but without any commenting texts.
It also includes a major five-page article by Roger Boyes on “Creole Rhapsody” and an article by Krin Gabbard on the firing of Charles Mingus from the Ellington Orchestra.
Since two years has passed since the 2016 Spring issue of Blue Light was published, it is now available to DESS members in the Ellington Archive.
Among the articles are two about Ellington’s Sacred Concert in the Coventry Cathedral in 1966, one about Harold Ashby as leader on records and one about Ellington’s visit to Châtaeu Goutelas in Loire (France) in 1966.
Steve Bowie, who is a muscian living in Pasadena, California, publish regularly podcasts on different aspects of Ellington and his music.
The latest podcast published just a couple of days ago is called “Beyond The Usual Suspects, Again” and has as its starting point the handful of Ellington compositions like Mood Indigo, Satin Doll, In A Sentimental Mood, etc.which played over and over again at tribute concerts and in recording.
The one before was about Ray Nance as violinist and called “Duke Ellington’s String Section”.
The podcasts are available on http://www.ellingtonreflections.com and can be downloaded from iTunes. They are also announced on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.