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Ellington DR Broadcasts (33)

The first ”goodie” in February is program 33 in the Duke Ellington series broadcast by the Danish Radio in the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s. The broadcast is available in the ”Goodies” section of the website.

This program was broadcasted on September 29, 1985 and was presented by Bjarne Busk.

It is totally dedicated to the stock pile recording session December 28-29, 1966. The session took place in the RCA Studios in New York.

Busk starts with what transpired on the second day, which was Tony Watkin’s day.

He recorded three Ellington songs – I’m Just A Lucky So And So, Blues At Sundown and The Lonely Ones. The first one was originally a number for Al Hibler and the second one sung by Jimmy Grissom on a couple of occasions in 1952 and in My People.

Before Watkins, ”The Lonely Ones” had been recorded by Johnny Ray and the Ellington band for Columbia on September 26, 1958.  and by Milt Grayson in a stockpile session on September 13, 1962.

None of the songs recorded by Watkins and played in the broadcast have been issued on K7, LP or CD so far.

Next in the broadcast , Ellington sits down at the piano for some meditation. On the tape box, the number is simply called Piano Track 1. Later it became Meditation.

Busk says that Ellington sat down at the end of the second day. However, according to Ellington discographies he actually did this at the start of the first day when he played a total of four songs for himself.

The rest of the day was a small group session. Cootie Williams, Cat Anderson, Johnny Hodges, Paul Gonsalves, Harry Carney, John Lamb and Rufus Jones joined Ellington to record I’m Beginning To See The Light, Dragon Blues, Now Ain’t It, Cotton Head and Last Time Around.

”Now Ain’t It” is a Melba Liston arrangement and in Ellington discographies ”Dragon Blues” is called Draggin’ Blues. Only ”I’m Beginning To See The Light” has not been issued on K7, LP or CD so far.

In all, another interesting and enjoyable broadcast making good use of the Mercer Ellington donation.

The Mercer Ellington donation

The program of the Ellington ’92 conference also included a presentation on the Mercer Ellington donation to Danish Radio. It was delivered by Erik Wiedemann, Bjarne Busk and Flemming Sjølund Jensen.

Photo: Bjarne Busk

First Erik Wiedemann spoke about Mercer Ellington’s donation of 781 Ellington tapes to Danish Radio on the condition that it would properly mixed onto new tapes.

Then Bjarne Busk and Flemming Sjølund Jensen followed up by letting the audience listen to examples from the archive.

Busk talked among other things about his excitement when he listened to the first tape, which started with what turned out to be Pastel from the Degas Suite. He also gave some figures on the donation. 443 tapes were studio recordings from 128 dates. There was also 69 tapes with live recordings from 35 occasions and 53 tapes with interviews of Ellington.

Photo: Bjarne Busk

Busk finished his presentation by playing a recording from the Aug. 18, 1966 session ”which will never be issued” but also other examples from the tapes were included in it.

Sjølund Jensen focused his presentation on an untitled blues recorded on Nov. 23, 1968 and used it to demonstrate ”how Ellington and the band developed their material”. He very much featured Lawrence Brown in his clips.

Brian Priestly on Duke – The Pianist

Brian Priestly was also one of the speakers at the Ellington ’92 conference in Copenhagen.

Photo Bjarne Busk

He talked about ”Ellington The Pianist”.

During the 45 minutes presentation, Priestly played eight Ellington recordings with the piano at the centre and used them to highlight different aspects of Ellington’s piano playing. From time to time, he also sat down at the piano to give emphasis to his comments.

The music played in the program was Rockin’ in Rhythm (1937), Melancholia (1953), See See Rider (1972), (I’m Riding On the Moon and) Dancing on the Stars (1938), Band Call (1954), The Clothed Woman(1947), Bang Up Blues(1950) and Body and Soul (1961)




Smått och gott /Bits and pieces

Nästa DESS-möte

Det äger rum den 18 februari. Efter sedvanligt årsmöte kåserar konstnären Rune Sjögren på temat Jazzatmosfär. Efter mingel och förtäring blir det konsert med pianisten Davor Kajfes. Som Leif Jönsson skriver i senaste Bulletinen. ”Förbered er på ett elegant pianospel som Ni inte får höra varje dag.”

Slut upp mangrant!!

New CD from Maison du Duke

La Maison du Duke has now provided its members with CD no. 11 in its series of rare Ellington material.

The particular focus of the new CD is the music that Ellington wrote and recorded for a production of the 18th century comedie Turcaret at La Comédie Francaise in Paris in 1960. But the CD has several other ”goodies” like the soundtracks of  two TV shows  and the American Airlines ”Astrofreight” film.

The full details of the can be found at http://maison-du-duke.com/c7j8vr2v58/fichiers/MDD011.pdf.

Brian Koller – the Ellington and film specialist – has provided the discographical details of the CD in a post to the LYM-Duke mailing list and we are happy to have his permission to make it available also to DESS members. It can be read here.

The Turcaret recordings have earlier been issued  on the DEMS K7 Eleven Years Later but the CD has of course better sound and seems to provide two more takes of Frontin. On the CD, the master takes have also been edited together into Turcaret Suite and it is welcome to hear it like this rather than in small snippets.

Those, who would like to get the CD, get it automatically as member of La Maison du Duke. It is easyyp become one. Just go to http://maison-du-duke.com/espace-membres/adherer-2/, fill in the form on this page and pay 20 EUR plus 5 EUR for postage.

New issue of Blue Light

DESUK members received the Winter issue 2018/2019 of Blue Light quite some time ago. It came with another CD produced in collaboration between DESUK and DESS.

The main feature in this final issue of Blue Light with Ian Bradley as editor is a very substantial article by Professor Anna Celenza about Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn and the Adventures of Peer Gynt in America. She holds the Thomas E. Caestecker Chair of Music at Georgetown University and the article is a developed from a paper on ”Duke Ellington’s Late Extended Works” she presented in 2010.

In the article, Professor Celenza places the Ellington/Strayhorn Peer Gynt Suite in its American cultural context and takes the contrarian view that the work is ”one of the most innovative examples of program music in the Ellington/Strayhorn repertoire”.

It is obvious that the Ellington legacy is more and more in the hands of academic musicologist. They will present the result of their work in academic conference papers and in articles in academic journals. As a result, it will be difficult for a more general audience interested in Ellington follow the discussion on Ellington’s work and life. Hopefully, Professor Celenza’s article will set an example to be followed by other musicologists and researchers.

Possibly, this could be a topic for discussion at the next Ellington Study Group Conference, which take place next year in Washington D.C. at the initiative of Anna Celenza (!).

The second article in the latest issue of Blue Light is also intersting. It is a reprint from an 1940 issue of Detroit Free Press Sunday Magazine of an interview with Duke Ellington in his appartement in New York.


Copenhagen Sep. 30, 1959 corrected

The file with the Copenhagen Sep. 30, 1959 concert made available to DESS members on Jan. 26 turns out to be something totally different. It brings together selections from Ellington’s concert in Paris on Sep.20, 1959 (both first and second concerts) and the second concert in Stockholm on Sep. 26, 1959.

We apologize for having put it on the website and thank Bjarne Busk for bringing the issue to our attention.

However, when the file was published, it was believed to be a genuine recording of the Copenhagen concert.

It was found by the DESS group charged with cataloguing Benny Åslund’s tape collection, which had been donated to DESS.

In the fall of 2011, the group sent the file together with a number of files of Ellington concerts in Sweden to Sjef Hoefsmit, who wrote about them in the 2012-1 issue of the DEMS Bulletin.

Under the headline A lot of Swedish NEW FINDS, he reported what the group had found. Amongst other things Hoefsmit said ”A totally unknown (to us) concert is from Copenhagen, 30Sep59, K.B. Hallen”.

He followed this up by publishing a correction sheet (1107) to NDESOR with the ”new” information.

So, not surprisingly, the DESS group thought that they had found an unknown recording of the Copenhagen concert.

However, what Hoefsmit forgot when he said ”a totally unknown concert to him  was that 20 years earlier at the Ellington conference in Los Angeles in 1991, he had said and written that the concert was ”a fake” in a review of the 3rd edition of the Willie Timner’s Ellingtonia”. He repeated this in comments on Timner’s 4th edition in the DEMS Newsletter 2001-3.

Hoefsmit built his view on a presentation Erik Wiedemann made at the Ellington conference in Washington D.C. in 1989. Wiedemann had by then published a very detailed paper on Ellington’s visits to Denmark and recordings made of the concerts there. As regards the 1959 concert, he says: ”There seems to be no recordings of the concerts.”


The source of the ”fake” file is not known to us but it was apparently rather widely circulated among Ellington collectors. Benny Åslund had it, Willie Timner had it and it is also listed in the catalogue for the auction of more than 100 reel-to-reel tapes belonging tho the French Ellington collector André Mahus, which Sjef Hoefsmit (!) organised for his widow.

The Jan. 26 article on the website has been deleted. However, the file in the Goodies Room will stay there for the time being and a list of its contents is here.





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