Storyville has released a new CD in its Ellington stockpile recording series. This time it is the second Ellington concert in Uppsala on Nov. 9, 1971. Bjarne Busk has produced the CD and also written the liner notes. Jørgen Vad is responsible for the excellent audio restauration.
The CD is the first complete release of another interesting concert from the period when the Ellington orchestra was in some disarray but still performed well and sometimes exceptionally well.
The liner notes are very thorough and gives a lot of information about the music played. Busk also writes about what he perceives as a special relationship between Ellington and Sweden. “Duke Ellington and Sweden is a true mutual love-affair” he says.
The concert on the CD was produced by George Wein as part of a package tour called Newport Jazz Festival. Besides Ellington and his orchestra, the “package” featured Miles Davis with a new septet, Kid Thomas Preservation Hall Band, Ornette Coleman Quartet and a group called Giants of Jazz, which included among others Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Stitt, Thelonius Monk and Art Blakey.
Ellington and Thomas shared the stage in two concerts on Nov. 9 – one at 19:30 and the other at 22:00. Thomas and his band took care of the first part of each of the concerts and Ellington the second.
The Ellington concert was filmed by Swedish Television (as were other parts of the Festival) and one hour of it was telecasted in the beginning of January 1972. The soundtrack of the telecast has circulated among Ellington collectors for a long time. Segments of the concert have also appeared in the Danish Radio Ellington Broadcasts (n°47 and 57) and I Got It Bad in the Medley was included in the Azure CA 10 cassette.
The tape used for the CD emanates from the Mercer Ellington donation. But who recorded it? Was it done by the Wein organisation at the request of Ellington? It is doubtful since it would have called for a double recording set up during the concert. Another – and more likely possibility – is that someone gave Ellington or Mercer Ellington a copy of the tape (in stereo) that technicians from Swedish Radio made together with the TV crew.
Anyhow it is not an important issue. What matters is that Ellington fans and aficionados now can enjoy the full Duke Ellington concert in the Uppsala University Aula (Great Hall) on Nov. 9, 1971 like we us, who were there.
According to NDESOR, Black Swan played by Ellington, Joe Benjamin and Rufus Jones ends the concert. However, it is not on the tape used for the Storyville release neither was it included in the DR 57 broadcast as claimed in the DESS Directory of Recordings by Duke and/or His Sidemen in Sweden.
The issue has to be further researched.
The concert was reviewed in the Swedish jazz magazine in Orkesterjournalen (Albrekt von Konow) and Dagens Nyheter (Bengt Persson). Their comments were generally positive. Both highlighted (as does Busk) the performance of Harlem. However, von Konow would have liked to hear more instrumental soloist and particularly Johnny Coles and Eddie Preston.
The reviews can be read here:
Thank you to Anders Asplund and Jan Bruér for help with information about the recording of the concert.