Bo Haufman, the Bulletin editor and President of DESS, has delighted the DESS members by sending out the autumn issue of the DESS Bulletin quite early this year. This allow them to digest and enjoy another Bulletin with a lot of good reading during the last weeks of the summer holiday.
This time the cover story is about Wellman Braud – Ellington’s first main bass player
In the well-researched four page lead article, Bo Haufman gives the full career of Braud.
He starts with his early years in Chicago (1917-1923), his two month visit to England in early 1923 as member of the Charles A. Elgar’s Orchestra to play in the show “Plantation Days” and his settlement in New York upon the return from England.
In New York, Braud got engaged by Wilbur Sweatman and also played in pit bands for musical comedies. He also also participated in his first recording sessions – two Victor sessions with Thomas Morris and his Seven Hot Babies on November 12 and 14, 1926.
In June 1927, Duke Ellington hired him as bass and tuba player and he became very quickly an important element in the Ellington orchestra. Braud stayed for almost eight years and left in March 1935.
In the article, Bo gives a detailed account of Braud’s period with the band. He talks about Braud’s style and role in the Ellington Orchestra, goes through Braud’s main recordings with the band and tells about the circumstances that led the Braudman’s departure.
The final part of the article gives snapshots of what Braud did after having left Ellington. He was not engaged by any other major orchestra but seems to have stayed in the environment of blues and music anchored in the New Orleans tradition.
At one point, he moved to California In 1955, he started to play with Kid Ory there and went with the Kid Ory’s Creole Jazz Band to Europe in 1956. In 1959, he started “a long lasting musical relationship” with the blues and folksinger Barbara Dane. Braudman accompanied her with a trio and did this also for blues artists performing at her club “Sugar Hill – Home of the Blues.
Braud passed away in Los Angeles in 1966.
But there is not only the article about Wellman Braud to read in the new issue of the DESS Bulletin but several others..
Among them, there is one (reprinted) article from Mike Zirpolo’s indispensable website Swing & Beyond. This time it is about Ellington’s and Harry Carney’s Blue Reverie and the article was published on December 31, 1917.
In his article, Zirpolo focus particularly on the inclusion of Blue Reverie in the program of Benny Goodman’s 1938 Carnegie Hall concert, which he find somewhat mysterious.
He think, that is might have been John Hammond, who got Benny Goodman to include it but he admits having no substantial evidence for this.
At Carnegie Hall, it was played a mixed group of Ellingtonian’s (Johnny Hodges, Harry Carney and Cootie Williams) and four Benny Goodman sidemen plus Goodman himself.
Zirpolo considers that Blue Reverie “as played at the … Carnegie Hall concert was simply superb, perfect in every respect”.
The article as published on the Swing & Beyond website features the orignal recording of the song by Cootie Williams and His Rug Cutters as well as the version played at Carnegie Hall. (https://swingandbeyond.com/2017/12/31/blue-reverie-1937-38-duke-ellington-and-benny-goodmans-1938-carnegie-hall-concert/)
Two contributions (in Swedish) in the new issue are from DESS members Erling Torkelsson – Black, Brown and Beige and the West Indian Influence – and Björn Englund – Duke och grammofonbolagen.
ErlingTorkelsson focus in his article on the three parts of Brown (West Indian Influence, The Lighter Attitude and Blues) in BB&B and writes about the three wars linked to them.
Björn Englund’s article is a detailed description of the history of Master Records. In Ellington circles, it is generally considered to have been owned by Irving Mills but in his detailed article Björn explains that this was not the case and gives us the correct story.
Another article linked to Irving Mills’ record activities is called March 14, 1937 and is written by Bo Hauman. On this date, Mills held an inauguration party and jam session to celebrate the launch of the Master label. There is a photo from this event and Bo talks about it in his article. He also cover the recording session with The Gotham Stompers on March 25, 1937, the result of which was issued on the Variety label, in which Mills also was involved.
In addition to these four articles, there are also some shorter articles well worth reading.