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Concerts in Sweden

Malmö, Nov. 9, 1969

1st Concert

Malmö Stadsteater, the venue for this concert

Two concerts from Sweden in 1969 remains to be accounted for on the DESS web site, namely the 1st and 2nd concerts from Malmö on November 9 at Malmö Stadsteater. These recordings were made privately on a portable device and therefor the sound quality is not the best, but bearable, and for the benefit of those members who want to complete their Ellington collections we nevertheless want to publish them. In the Goodies Room you will now find the 1st one from Malmö.

Since the Stockholm concert a few days earlier, two changes in orchestra personnell had taken place, in that Rolf Ericson replaces Ambrose Jackson on trumpet and Åke Persson is added to the trombone section.

Jump For Joy (more…)

Concerts in Sweden

Malmö Nov. 9, 1969

2nd concert

The Duke in 1969

The recorded material from the 2nd concert at this date is shorter, but sound-wise better compared with the 1st. Here, right from the start, Åke Persson assumes one of the main roles as soloist in the opening number, C-Jam Blues, where he seems to fit in well without any signs of being shy.

DIG Jazz

Åke “Kometen” Persson

The program is similar to that of the 1st concert:

*C-Jam Blues*Kinda Dukish & Rockin’ In Rhythm*4:30 Blues*Serenade To Sweden*Take The A Tarin*Mount Harissa*Up Jump*La Plus Belle Africaine*Come Off The Veldt*Medley*

with the Medley approx 30 minutes long.

After this concert, Duke and the orchestra leave Sweden for extensive concerts in Europe. They will return to Sweden to appear briefly at Liseberg in Gothenburg in 1970. The Liseberg  concerts have like-wise been recorded on a portable recorder and therefor of lesser sound quality. We had originally planned to publish them on these pages, but we could do with some feed-back on whether the DESS member would find them desirable to listen to, despite the inferior sound quality.

Teaching Ellingtonia

In the early 1990’s Kenny Burrell participated in some Ellington conferences.

The first one was Ellington ’90 in Ottawa,  where he was was an important part of the music program. Together with Harold Ashby, Wild Bill Davis, John Lamb and Butch Ballard, Burrell formed the Ellingtonians group and also appeared as soloist with the Andrew Homzy Jazz Orchestra.

The concert with the Ellingtonians has been published on the website.

Kenny Burrell was back at the Ellington ’93 conference in New York, where he once again was part of the music program but also made a presentation on Teaching Ellingtonia the second day.

Burrell first became involved in jazz education in 1978, when he started to teach a 10-week overview of Duke Ellington for UCLA’s Center for African American Studies.

By that time his two first LP album dedicated to Duke Ellington’s music – Ellington Is Forever (Fantasy F 79005) and Ellington Is Forever vol 2 (Fantasy 79008) had been issued.

Burrell’s love for Duke was not obvious in his early career. He belonged to the part of the hardbop generation that came out of Detroit and joined those coming from New York or Philadelphia in recording the new style of jazz for labels like Blue Note and Prestige.

They occasionally included an Ellington song like Cotton Tail, Caravan, The The A Train, Perdido etc in what they recorded but if it was thanks to Kenny Burrell is hard to say.

An interest in Ellington could possibly be spotted in the 1961 Taft Jordan Plays Ellington album (Moodsville MVLP 21). It is not known to which extent Burrell participated in the selection of songs but he certainly played a lot of Ellington music when the album was recorded.

In an interview on the WBUR jazz program in Boston in 1985, Kenny Burrell told the interviewer Tony Cennamo that it was the publicist Al Morgan who had introduced him to Ellington’s music. Unfortunately no date for this is given.

In an interview for National Public Radio in 2014, Burrell said: When I was at Wayne State University in the ’50s, it was a problem studying jazz, even talking about it in some cases, so I decided if I had a chance, I would teach jazz.” And this he did for many years.

In his presentation at Ellington ’93, he explains his approach to this as regards Ellingtonia.




DESScafé Nov. 16, 2020

Nov. 16, DESScafé welcomed again the DESS members to another afternoon of Ellington music and a cup of coffee.

This time the theme was From My Ellington Archive and Leif Jönsson, Claes Brodda, Ander Asplund, Thomas Harne and Owe Persson played and talked about tracks they had chosen from their collections.

The visitors to the DESScafé could enjoy Ellington music from the 1920’s to very end in the 1970’s.

DESScafé 16 nov – llist of songs

A playlist is available in the DESScafé section of the website.



Kurt Dietrich on Juan Tizol

At Ellington ’93 in New York, Kurt Dietrich did another presentation on Ellington’s trombone players. On this occasion, he talked about Juan Tizol, Ellington’s valve trombone player 1929-1944 and 1951-1953 and occasionally  in the early 1960’s.

In the presentation, Dietrich gives a short biography of Tizol but the focus is on Tizol – the trombone player.

He talks about Tizol’s stylistic features and illustrate them with excerpts of Twelve Street Rag (Jan. 14, 1931), Caravan (May 14, 1937), Battle Of The Swing (Dec. 19, 1938) and Come Sunday (Jan. 23, 1943). I

It is a pity that his presentation was restricted to 30 minutes because it is obvious that he had much more to share.

For those, who would like to know more about Tizol, Nanton, Lawrence Brown and other Ellington trombonists, Dietrich’s book Duke’s Bones: Ellington’s Great Trombonists is highly recommended.

Anyone, who would like to go deeper into Tizol’s life and career, should read Basilio Serrano’s biography Juan Tizol – His Caravan Through American Life and Culture

A three page overview of Tizol’s life, career and achivements written by Bo Haufman is available in DESS Bulletin 2011-2.

There exists also an interview in which Tizol talks about his time with Ellington.

Another interesting video is a short lecture in the Jazz Academy series in which the lead trombone player in the Jazz At LIncoln Center Orchestra, Vincent Gardner, demonstrates the Tizol way to play the trombone melody in Ko-Ko.


Crystal Ballroom, Fargo ND 80 Years Ago

Today is the 80th anniversary of Ellington’s dance date in Crystal Ballroom, Fargo, North Dakota.

Duke Ellington and his orchestra spent most of September, the whole of October and a couple of days in the beginning of November in Chicago for a long engagement at Hotel Sherman, a week-long engagement at Oriental Theatre and a couple of recording sessions for RCA-Victor.

On November 2, Cootie Williams left the band for Benny Goodman and the last thing he did in a Ellington context was a small group recording session for the Bluebird label with Johnny Hodges and His Orchestra.

The following week, Ellington started a short tour of one-nighters . He and the band played in East Grand Forks, Minnesota and Winnipeg, Manitoba (CA) before arriving in Fargo, North Dakota on Nov. 7 for the dance date at its Crystal Ballroom.

This was the main dance hall in Fargo and located on the second floor of the Fargo City Auditorium at the corner of First Avenue South and Broadway. It featured a glass ball two feet in diameter hanging from the ceiling that reflected the lights of the dance hall.

As all Ellington aficionados know, waiting for Ellington in Crystal Ballroom was not only a dance audience but also two young students – Jack Towers and Richard Burris.

Together with the orchestra and the audience, they managed to turn a rather normal dance date into a legacy by recording almost everything the band played during the night on their portable equipment – an acetate disc player, one speaker and three microphones of which one was a RCA Dynamic placed stage center for the soloists.

They got the permission from Ellington to record the dance just before it started but apparently William Morris Agency had agreed to it earlier.

Towers has been interviewed many times about Fargo and the recordings he and Burris made. Here are three of them.

In February or March 1980, Towers spoke to the National Public Radio (NPR) engineer Jim Anderson about the process of making, then restoring his Grammy-winning recording. The interview was aired on Morning Edition on March 6, 1980.


In 1981, in conjunction with the Ellington Study Group meeting in New York, Dick Buckley interviewed Towers about Fargo. He then used it in his program “Jazz Forum” on Nov. 7, 1981, which was commemorating the Crystal Ballroom dance.


Another interview with Jack Towers on Fargo took place in 2000 in conjuction with the 60th anniversary of the Crystal Ballroom dance.

This time, it was Rob Bamberger who interviewed him and his wife Brenda on “Hot Jazz Saturday Night” – Bamberger’s weekly program on the public radio station WAMU in Washington D.C. The music played on the program was from a pre-release of the Storyville’s Fargo 60th Anniversary CD album.


The first release of music from Crystal Ballroom happened without the direct involvement of Jack Towers. In the interview with Dick Buckley he says that “in the early 60s” he had a “very poor tape” which he gave to someone who visited him in Washington.

The tape ended up in New York “or someplace” and “a bootleg of very bad quality came out in Europe about six months later. Palm or some label like that.”

Apparently, Towers was upset about the tape coming out, and in the early 1970s,” Towers says in the interview, “I got interested in doing a better dub of it and helped a fellow in Sweden produce a pretty good version of it for Jazz Society.” This must be considered as the  first real issue of the Crystal Ballroom dance.

According to Carl A. Hällström, who was behind Jazz Society and other labels, “the idea for the Fargo album on Jazz Society came from my visit with the Towers family  in Washington in the summer of 1973.  The music had already been out in two bad versions: two LPs in Denmark and three LPs (Palm 30) in England.  I wanted to produce a legitimate version of better quality and I made a deal with Jack Towers.”

“Tape transfers from the original acetates made at the Library of Congress in the late 60 ‘s were  then edited by Olle Swembel at Europa film in Stockholm in 1974”, Carl says , “and the Jazz Society two LP-set came out in late 1975. ”

“I did not then have any general retail distribution in Sweden; It was Leif Anderson who sold it. It was some years later that I first had AMIGO as distributor and then AD LIB, which sold much more even though the price was higher.  Jurgen Schildt’s review of Fargo in AFTONBLADET helped very well!”

Later the Canadian label Jazz Guild issued material from the dance supplementing the Jazz Society album

In 1978, the Book-of-the-Month Club issued a three LP-set with the same content as the Jazz Society and Jazz Guild albums combined.  However, Towers had worked further on the tapes producing a new version for the issue and he was very proud that the new album won the Grammy Award for “Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album” in 1980.

The 1990 issue of the Fargo dance on the Canadian label Vintage Jazz Classics must be considered as another hallmark since it includes everything that was recorded on November 7, 1940.

However, the ultimate version in terms of sound quality must considered to be Storyville’s Fargo 1940 Special 60th Anniversary Edition. For this issue, Towers had restored the tapes and improved them as much as possible.

It should also be said that the joy and value of the listed Fargo albums is not only the music but also the almost scholarly liner notes that come with them. The list of authors are impressive. Eddie Lambert, Jerry Valburn, Andrew Homzy and Annie Kuebler.

Kuebler’s liner notes is the most extensive and very detailed. It was reprinted in Journal of Jazz Studies in 2012 and the article is available to DESS members in the concert section of our Ellington Archive.

In the Fargo box, there is also other Fargo material like Jack Tower’s photos from Crystal Ballroom and Martin Fredricks’ booklet about the dance.

Lite Ellington att lyssna till

Covid-19 pandemin har gjort att jazzklubbar och föreningar som DESS inte kan arbeta som vanligt med fysiska möten utan måste använda sig av Internet för virtuella konserter, möten och presentationer.

Ett av de ledande i det sammanhanget är National Jazz Museum in Harlem. I serien Jazz for Curious Listeners erbjuder museets huvudföreläsare Loren Schoenberg oerhört mycket till jazzintresserade. På Ellingtonsidan finns det f n två föredrag av honom på YouTube. Det ena är första delen av miniserien Who Was Ellington? och det andra The Great Concerts – Duke Ellington.

Den andra delen av Who Was Ellington? kommer snart att bli tillgänglig och i serien The Great Concerts finns också presentationer av konserter med  Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday och Sarah Vaughan. Loren Schoenberg har också presenterat Ben Webster i en miniserie av fyra föredrag som också finns tillgänglig på Youtube.

Jazz At Lincoln är en annan huvudaktör men med fokus på göra konserter av Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra (JALCO) tillgängliga på nätet. Vänner av Ellington bör ha störst intresse för två av dem.

Den ena är en konsert med Ellington- och Basiemusik, som ursprungligen ägde rum 2018 men som gick i repris i juli i år. Den innehåller bl.a. JALCOs version av Black, Brown and Beige, som gavs ut digitalt tidigare i år.

Den andra är minneskonserten till 100 årsdagen av Billy Strayhorn födelse – Lush Life: Celebrating Billy Strayhorn.

Till dessa två kommer naturligtvis alla konserterna med collegeband i Essentially Ellington-tävlingen.

Men för swingvänner finns det många fler konserter att njuta av.

Liksom DESS har både DESUK i England och La Maison du Duke i Frankrike stängt ner mötesverksamheten t.v.

Som vi tidigare skrivit om på webbplatsen, tog en liten grupp av DESUKs styrelsemedlemmar i slutet av sommaren initiativet till ett Zoombaserat veckoprogram med inbjudna gäster – Uptown Lockdown. Det senaste programmet har Brian Priestly och Michael Kilpatrick som inbjudna gäster.

Alla program finns på YouTube i DESUKs kanal där.

La Maison du Duke har inte tagit sin tillflykt till vare sig YouTube eller Zoom men har i stället gjort flertalet av sina videoinspelade möten med talare sedan åtskilliga år tillbaka mer lätttillgängliga. Föredragen är visserligen på franska men ganska lättillgängliga för den med hyfsade franskkunskaper från skoltiden eller från semesterresor till Frankrike. Lyssna t.ex. på programmen Duke & Monk och Basie vs Ellington.









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