In the beginning of this month, we published Ken Steiner’s Zoom presentation last year to TDES about Ellington 1941. Due to technical problems, this presentation had to be cut short and Ken did not get the opportunity to talk about and play Salute To Canada Lee and Billy Strayhorn’s Raincheck.
Last week, we arranged a Zoom meeting with Ken in which he did it.
In the Salute To Canada Lee broadcast, Ellington plays two songs from Jump For Joy, which was to open a week later.
Raincheck is the Victor version from 2 Dec, 1941 with Strayhorn himself is at the piano. Enjoy!
As announced last month, there will be a virtual DESS Ellington Meeting also this year.
It is organized by the editor of the website on behalf of DESS and with the support of a Program Committee.
The Meeting will take place on April 25, 26, 28 and 29 on Zoom. The language will be English as last year.
The program is ready and available in the Ellington Meeting section of the website.
12 speakers from different strata of the international Ellington community have agreed to make presentations. They will cover areas such as Duke Ellington and Leonard Bernstein, Ellington Medleys, Ellington’s Experimentation Techniques in New Orleans Suite, Boola, Dance to the Dukeand many more.
Registration will open on March 3.
Ellington turned 50 during his three weeks engagement at the Paramount Theater at Times Square in New York 20 April to 10 May 1949.
There are no traces of a big birthday party for him. It seems to have been just a normal working day with six performances to give.
However, in the breaks between the performances, Barry Ulanov interviewed him extensively for Metronome and the result was a three-page article published in the June issue of the magazine.
Judging from the article, Ulanov and Ellington talked about many things during the interviews.
One of them was the musical Ellington was working on with producer and lyricist/composer Sid Kuller to the theme of the route of the ‘A’ Train of the Independant Subway System in New York. “Oh, yes”, Ellington said according to Ulanov, “the band must play an important part in it. That’s our gimmick. To put a new sound into a Broadway theatre”.
The musical never materialized but perhaps there traces of it in the Ellington Archive at the Smithsonian?
Another topic was bebop. “Of course, bop’s in the air and naturally some people hear a little bit of it in our music”, Ellington says in the interview, “they thought there were some bop influences in The Tatooed Bride. Anyhow, I thought we offered a new departure in it.”
Ellington also commented on Charlie Parker. “He is just a great instrumentalist who’s been put in a category and just to oblige he may make a couple of bop statements here and there. But Charlie’s an individual. That’s not bop.”
Ulanov brought up atonality and counterpoint. “You know”, Ellington said about this, “the normal trends of jazz lead you lead so far from it that you can only indulge your interest in counterpoint for your own personal kicks ….. I like to do counterpoint, like it a lot.”
They also talked about the routining of musicals. “The secret of any dramatic art is routining” Ellington says in the article. “When the first show doesn’tgo over, you haven’t got a a week in New Haven and two in Philadelphia to straighten it out. You have got four or five more to do that day and six more tough days to go and you get it right by the second or third show or you are bust.”
The full article is available to DESS members in the section Articles in the Ellington Archive.
Today, DESS members can find a new video montage in the Goodies Room.
But all visitors to the website can watch Take The A Train from the movie Reveille With Beverly (above).
The montage in the Goodies Room includes the following:
1. The Perfume Suite – A short film by George Pal from 1946, described in detail by Klaus Stratemann in his book Duke Ellington Day by Day and Film by Film.
2. “Rehearsal” in Paris during the band’s summer tour in Europe in of 1950. This is an extremely rare footoge. It is possible to identify a number of sidemen that did not stay with the orchestra very long, for example Ernie Royal (brother of Marshall Royal, the Basie lead alto), Alva McCain, Nelson Williams and others. The first 10-15 seconds you will hear the sound only.
3. A short presentation of Such Sweet Thunder by Ellington and actor Tyrone Power from Oct 13 1957. The second part of this is a medley of “popular hits”.
4. El Viti played by Cat Anderson from Teatro Lirico in Milan Jan. 30 1966
5. Ed Sullivan Show, March 7, 1965. Ella Fitzgerald sings Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me
6. Ellington visits the Dean Martin Show on June 26, 1966 and plays the piano
Last year, Ken Steiner was invited by TDES to make a Zoom presentation for its members and other interested.
He chose Ellington in 1941 as topic and covered particularly Jimmie Blanton, Ivie Anderson and Jump For Joy in his presentation. It is a very good and well prepared presentation.
Unfortunately, there were some problems with the Zoom cast, particularly with the music parts. The website has got the permission from TDES and Ken to try to fix the issues with the video of the presentation and the result is below.
Feedback is welcomed!