Basin Street East was for some years in the 1960s one of the famous jazz clubs in New York. It was located in midtown Manhattan in the Shelton Towers Hotel at 525 Lexington Avenue.
It was quite a singers place. Peggy Lee, Billy Eckstine and Barbra Streisand appeared and recorded there.
Ellington’s first gig at Basin Street East was from 4 to 20 December 1961. It was his first night club residency in 5 years (TDWAW – http://tdwaw.ca).
After this he appeared regularly at the club until the mid-1960s.
In 1964, Ellington had an engagement there from 9 to 18 December (possibly longer) and on 14 January WNEW broadcasted from there with William B Williams as host.
Williams was with WNEW for more than four decades and was in the 50’s one of the DJs at the station in the 50’s who “helped define the “Middle of the Road” (MOR) musical character of WNEW.
During Ellington’s visit to England later in the year, the program was rebroadcasted by BBC in the famous Jazz Club program. By that time, Humphrey Lyttleton was the presenter.
Here is his introduction.
Even if the broadcast from Basin Street East is strictly not a goodie since it is available on CD (Music & Arts 908), we offer it in the Goodies Room to DESS members to enjoy during the last month of the summer. It is digitised from a 50 years old tape in the Benny Åslund (aka Benny Aaslund) so the sound is not hifi but quite acceptable. The concluding East St Louis Toodle-oo
As usual, we appreciate comments and corrections.
Author: Ulf Lundin
Ellington’s 1965 European tour lasted from January 25 to February 28. It started in France where Duke and the orchestra performed in Paris, and Lyon. They then went north, first to Copenhagen (Denmark) and then to Sweden for concerts in Lund, Malmö and Stockholm. After stops in Germany and Switzerland, the tour ended with two weeks of concerts (and a telecast) in England from February 13 to February 28.
There were some changes in the orchestra compared to the one that toured Europe in 1964. Ernie Shepard and Rolf Ericson were not longer with the band. John Lamb became the bass player in August 1964, Ray Nance returned to the band for 6 months in January 1965 and Mercer Ellington also joined the trumpet section at about the same time.
Contrary to what was said by many reviewers, the concert program was quite different from the 1964 one. HARLEM was replaced by BLACK and Ad Lip on Nippon was selected from Far East Suite instead of Amad, Agra, Blue Bird of Delhi, Depk and Isfahan.
In the category that critics call “we have heard it before”, new for the 1965 tour was among others Midriff, Chelsea Bridge, Jump for Joy, Passion Flower and Afro Bossa. Jungle Kitty (aka Meow) was brand new composition for Cat Anderson by Ellington and Strayhorn.
So all in all, it was an interesting repertoire. However, the problem was that it was not always well performed. The scandals in this respect in the beginning of the tour marred the overall impression.
This article we focus on Ellington’s concerts in Copenhagen and Stockholm but also cover what happened in between them.
The concert in Copenhagen took place on 31 January. There was only one concert and it started at 19:30 (7:30 PM) local time.
The concert took place in concert hall of Falkoner Centret in the Frederiksberg district of Copenhagen, which was inaugerated in 1958.
The whole concert was filmed by Danish Radio Television and almost all of it was telecasted on 21 June 1965 as Hertugen og hans mænd (The Duke and his Men). It is one of the few recording with a (almost) complete concert from the tour.
The telecast has also been issued on DVD by the American Quantum Leap company and the DVD is most likely the source of the two videos with the concert available on YouTube.
Missing from the telecast (and video) are Solitude, Jam with Sam, Take the “A” Train (theme) and Dancers in Love. They came after Ray Nance’s encore He Huffed ‘n’ Puffed.
Solitude was sung by Bea Benjamin accompanied by her husband Dollar Brand (aka Abdullah Ibrihim), Cootie Williams, Russell Procope, John Lamb and Sam Woodyard. Brand and Benjamin had an engagement at Montmartre – the famous jazz club in Copenhagen – at the time of the concert and they were friends with Ellington since he recorded them for Reprise in Paris in February 1963.
After this, the orchestra was back to end the concert with Jam with Sam and Take the “A” Train.
NDESOR and Ellingtonia (ellingtonia.com) also lists Dancers in Love played by Ellington accompanied by John Lamb. Possibly this was an encore but it is a little bit of a mystery. It is not mentioned in any reviews of the concert and was not played at any other concert during the tour.
Part of the concert was also broadcast by Danish Radio in a two parts series – Duke Ellington in Copenhagen. The first was aired on 22 February 1965. DESOR (volume 1963-1965) lists eight songs from the concert and Erik Wiedeman says they were what was broadcast by Danish Radio.
Click on the photos to get them larger.
Danish newspapers covered the concert well and quickly but it is sad that the concert could be labelled The Sleepy Gonsalves concert.
Several reviews gave quite some attention to the fact that Paul Gonsalves went into deep sleep at the beginning of the concert and several other times during it as can be seen in the video. But as Berlingske Tidenes reported, after the concert Gonsalves was fit to go to the Montmarte jazz club to listen to and play with Ben Webster.
The Swedish jazz critic and Ellington fan Leif Anderson also attended the concert and commented on it in an review of the concerts in Copenhagen, Lund and Malmö in the March issue in the Swedish jazz magazine Orkesterjournalen.
Here is his full review together with one by Bertil Sundin for the Stockholm concert.
From Copenhagen, Ellington and his band went to Malmö for concerts in Lund and Malmö. They were organised by the young promoter Bo Jonsson, 24 years old at the time, who was to organise many other Ellington concerts in Malmö.
Ellington stayed at the elegant Kramer Hotel right in the centre of Malmö. There he run int Arthur Fiedler, who stayed at the same hotel and was in town to conduct the Malmö Symphony Orchestra. (Leif Andersson)
The concert venue in Lund was the Main Hall in Akademiska Föreningen. It was scheduled to start at 19:30 (7:30 PM) but was seriously delayed since Sam Woodyard never appeared and Johnny Hodges Jr. had to step in and take over the drummer’s tasks. It must have been a total disaster for the arrangers and for Ellington but reviewers were rather calm about it and also about the fact that Gonsalves slept during most of the concert in Lund.
According to Lars Weck – Dagens Nyheter’s jazz critic – Ellington performed Ad Lib on Nippon, Paul Gonsalves woke up to solo in Chelsea Bridge and Johnny Hodges played Passion Flower, Things Ain’t What They Used To Be and Jeep’s Blues.
From Lund, the band went back to Malmö for a late night concert at Stadsteatern (Malmö City Theatre). It seems that it became a rather improvised concert again since Sam Woodyard was late. While waiting for him, Ellington recited Pretty and the Wolf. Once Woodyard was in place, some of the program from Copenhagen must have been performed but which parts? In his review, Leif Andersson says that Lawrence Brown played Serenade to Sweden as an encore, that Russell Procope did a solo on his alto sax in Jump for Joy and that Buster Cooper had a solo in C Jam Blues.
From Malmö, Ellington and the orchestra went to Stockholm. Norman Granz and his Swedish representatives Karusell Konsertbyrå had advertised the two concerts well in advance in newspapers and with posters but surprisingly not in Orkesterjournalen.
The first concert started at 19:00 local time (7 PM) and the second at 21:00 (9 PM). The concert venue was Konserthuset (Stockholm Concert Hall) in the centre of Stockholm. Both concerts were well attended, one reviewer even says they were sold out.
The length of the concerts is not known but it seems likely that they lasted around 1hour and 30 minutes. Readers who knows more about this, please contact the web editor.
NDESOR lists nine tunes except the opening and ending Take the “A” Train theme (DE6510 b-j) but this is only what was included in a broadcast by Swedish Radio, and not a full concert. Most likely it is edited from the second concert.
Here is a teaser from the broadcast.
DESS members can listen to and download the broadcast in the Goodies Room.
The broadcast starts with the station announcement in Swedish followed by an introduction by the presenter Olle Helander. He was responsible for jazz programs on Swedish Radio since the early 1950’s and a well-known voice presenting them.
After the theme and intro (Take the “A” Train), Ellington announces Afro-Bossa (aka Boola). This is a carry-over from 1963 and was often played during the 1963-66 period but disappeared after that from the band’s repertoire.
The Opener follows with the familiar line-up of soloists: Paul Gonsalves, Buster Cooper and Cat Anderson, then Paul Gonsalves is featured in the beautiful Chelsea Bridge.
On the 1965 European tour, Ellington re-introduced Worksong, Come Sunday and Light (Montage) from the 1st movement of Black, Brown & Beige.
In Paris and Copenhagen, he had also presented Ad Lib On Nippon from Far East Suite. It is not included in this broadcast but was most likely featured in the two Stockholm concerts.
Passion Flower and Things Ain’t What They Used To Be, which are solo numbers for Johnny Hodges, are played next before Cootie Williams gets into the lime-light with Tutti For Cootie.
Based on what is in the radio program and input from people who attended the concert like DESS’ former president Leif Jönsson, it is rather likely that the following music was played during the concerts.
Take The “A” Train (theme), Midriff, Afro-Bossa, The Opener, Chelsea Bridge, A Lib On Nippon – Fugi, Iggo, Nagoya, Tokyo, Black – Worksong, Come Sunday, Light (Montage), Passion Flower, Things Ain’t What They Used To Be, Jump for Joy, Tutti For Cootie and Take the “A” Train (theme).
Songs in italics have to be confirmed. Please send comments to the web editor.
Review of the concerts appeared in daily newspapers and in Orkesterjounalen (OJ). There were distinctly different. One view was represented by Leif Andersson (OJ), Hans Friedlund (Aftonbladet) and Lars Weck (Dagens Nyheter). They were the positiv ones.
The other group with Ludwig Rasmussen (Svenska Dagbladet) and Bertil Sundin (OJ) was the negative one.
The Swedish cinematographer and cinema teacher, Roland Sterner, attended one of the concerts and took many interesting photos, which have been made available to the website. He was trained by the famous Swedish photographer Christer Strömholm, was film photographer for many years, teacher at Dramatiska Institutet etc.
Click on the photos to have them shown in a larger format.
This kind of article is always a work in progress. Therefore, comments, corrections and additions to the article are most welcome.
Authors: Ulf Lundin and Anders Asplund. Press research: Sven-Erik Baun Christensen, Ulf Lundin, Göran Axelsson, Leif Jönsson.
In 1971, University of Wisconsin (UWIS) awarded Duke Ellington an Honorary Doctorate in Music
This started a process that brought him and his orchestra to Madison, WI and the university for a full week-long festival in July 1972. The festival started exactly 50 years ago today and the Govenor of Wisconsin had declared it Duke Ellington Week in the whole state.
In a panel interview in April this year, James Latimer, Professor of Jazz in the Music Department at the time and the man who conceived and organized the week, told what happened after Ellington had received his Honorary Doctorate in Music.
Stanley Dance called the week-long festival (July 18-23) “the most rewarding festival we have ever attended”.
The program had two parts. One was a series of clinic‐workshops and master classes for students and teachers with Ellington and leading members of the Ellington orchestra and the students could earn credits by participating. And the other was Ellington concerts with a large attendance almost every night.
There were four afternoon clinic-workshops with members of the Ellington band – one for brass, one for reeds and one for rhythm. Mercer Ellington, Johnny Coles and Vince Prudente were among the professors in the brass clinics, Paul Gonsalves, Harry Carney, Russell Procope and Harold Ashby handled the reed clinics and Rufus Jones and Joe Benjamin the rhythm ones.
In their articles about the Festival (see below), both Patricia Willard and Stanley Dance gave full and lively accounts of what went on in the clinics. Very worthwhile accounts to read!
The “Maestro” himself offered two masterclasses. The second of them were filmed and later broadcasted. The participants in the Ellington Meeting 2022 had the opportunity to watch most of the video and see a very relaxed Ellington, who obviously enjoyed himself very much under a disguise of some reluctancy. It is available for viewing at https://ellington.se/ellington-meetings/ellington-2022/presentations/ellington-at-uwis-july-1972/.
The concert program was as full as the educational workshops program. In Stanley Dance’s words: “The programmes presented perhaps the broadest spectrum of Ellington’s music ever performed within the space of five days.”
On the first night, there was an Ellington Favorites concert with great hits of Ellington’s career. The next night was a Family Concert with “music for people of all ages from eight to eighty”.
The third night offered a Sacred Concert performed by the Ellington orchestra, an Ellington Festival Chorus with more than 100 singers and Tony Watkins together with invited soloist.
The concert the following night – The Duke at Milwaukee – was meant to “reflect the classic Elliington, different periods of time, all, shaped by the leader’s love for dramatic contrast”.
The last concert was Night of Suites. It had Ellington’s last performance of The Goutelas Suite and premièred the newly written The UWIS Suite. Between them, Ellington and the orchestra played, among others, music from The Queen’s Suite and The Afro-Eurasian Eclipse.
Here is the UWIS Suite with Ellington’s introduction.
A 90 minutes excerpt of the concert is available for DESS members in the Goodies Room.
The music file does not include the final part of the concert with Perdido, The Kiss, the Medley, Hello Dolly, One More Time for the People and Things Ain’t What They Used To Be.
The NDESOR entry for the concert is DE7237 (a-x) and the same information can be found at ellington.com entry 21 July 1972.
Patricia Willard was very present and involved in Ellington’s visit to UWIS. Afterwards, she wrote an article for Downbeat, which was published in July issue. It is rich account of what went on during the week with many observations.
Stanley Dance was also in attendence in Wisconsin as Festival Consultant and he summarised the Festival in an article to the English Jazz Journal. Also this article is full of perspectives and details.
This article with be updated as more information is found.
Ellington Meeting 2022
The website for the meeting – https://ellington.se/ellington-meetings/ellington-2022 – has been updated. All the 12 presentations at the meeting are available there for viewing and DESS members can also download them in the Goodies Room https://ellington.se/manadsgodis-2/ellington-2022-presentations-for-download/.
An updated version of the program is also available at the website as well as reports from the four days
New issue of Blue Light
A new issue of Blue Light arrived in the beginning of the summer. It is another expanded edition with 46 pages of interesting reading
Roger Boyes continues his series on Ellington in the Forties. In the new article, he covers the whereabouts of Ellington and his orchestra from the end of 1943 to mid-1944.
Within this framework, Boyes covers the second Carnegie Hall concert and the touring that followed. In that context, he tells about Ellington’s refusal to play a whites-only show for military personnel at the Great Lakes Naval Training Base north of Chicago and changes in the band, including the arrival of singer Wini Johnson.
The final part of the article covers Ellington’s return to the Hurricane, the gradual recommencement of the recording industry and further changes in the Ellington orchestra.
Another ambitious article in the new issue is one written by Gareth Evans himself and is about vocal contributions by Ellington himself on different recordings over the years. It is inspired by his article on Moon Maiden in the previous Blue Light.
Brian Priestley is another contributor to the Spring 2022 issue. In his article, he uses his tremendous knowledge of Charlie Mingus “to trace the ins and outs” of “his love for Ellington’s music”. Fred Glueckstein’s contribution to Blue Light this time is the first part of an article about Queenie Pie.
These four articles are supplemented by concert and book reviews, obituaries and announcements to keep the readers updated on what is going on in the Ellington world.
There have been some changes in the series. Since a couple of months ago, Brian Priestley is responsible for it together with Antony Pepper. The first edition of the reshaped series went up on YouTube on May 29 and features Priestley’s “Ellington-oriented conversation with renowned author Alyn Shipton”.
The second one is with a 90-minute conversation with bassist Dave Green, who enthusiastically talks about Duke Ellington, Jimmie Blanton and playing with Ben Webster.
Go to Uptown Lockdown on Youtube to watch and listen to them.
MDD 14 – Playing Others’ Music
La Maison du Duke’s annual CD is now available. It is number 14 in the series and it is called Duke Ellington – Playing Others’ Music.
“Others” refers to Billy Strayhorn, some members of the Ellington orchestra and composers of the Great American Songbook. T
The major portion of the CD is from Ellington’s appearance at Jantzen Beach Ballroom in Portland, Oregon on 11 June 1955.
It was the last stop in a long tour that started in in Clemson S.C. (next to Atlanta) on 26 March. From there, Ellington went to Florida with the band and then up the Atlantic coast to Washington D.C.
The cover photo on the CD is actually the famous photo taken in April 1955 in front of Astor Motel in Jacksonville, Florida.
Then, after some zick-zagging, they toured the mid-West in mid-May and continued with engagements and recording sessions on the West Coast and British Columbia in June.
It was Ellington’s second engagement at the Jantzen Beach Ballroom. The previous one was on 13 November, 1954
Both dances were recorded in some way. NDESOR lists 35 songs for the 1954 dance and 45 songs for the one in 1955. Together, they give a good image of Ellington’s dance repertoire in the mid-50’s.
It is very welcome that MDD now gives us a tidbit of it and it is just to hope that MDD or someone else will provide more of this material.
The last three tracks on the CD are from Ellington’s dance date at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield CA on 4 March, 1958. They are already available on Volume 2 of the Private Collection ( LMR CD 83001) together with other music from the dance.
Ellington at Berlin Jazz Festival
Another recent CD with Ellington was issued in June by the French record label The Lost Recordings. It has music from two Ellington appearances at the Berlin Jazz Festival, one on 8 November, 1969 and one on 2 November, 1973.
The two concerts were simultaneously issued on LP and as a hi-res download. Regardless which medium one chooses, one gets excellent sound. This is one of the hallmarks of the label. One wonders though why the record company had to give us two incomplete concerts and not one complete. There must exist complete recordings of both of thre concerts.
Ellington was featured on the poster for the 1969 festival. An introductory remark in program said “The Berlin Jazz Festival 1969 takes place under the motto: Duke Ellington – 70 (source: TDWAW).
The CD (and the other versions) has six songs from the concert – La Plus Belle Africaine, El Gato, I Can’t Get Started, Caravan and Satin Doll. However, this is a small part of the full concert and the full list of what was played in the concert is available at ellingtonia.com (http://ellingtonia.com/discography/1961-1970/). Go to 8 November, 1969.
I Can’t Get Started features Benny Bailey. He joined the Ellington band for some days during the 1969 tour starting with the concerts in Rotterdam on 7 November. Caravan and Satin Doll are from the medley.
In the 1973 festival, Ellington appeared with a small group including Money Johnson, Russell Procope, Paul Gonsalves, Harold Ashby, Harry Carney, Joe Benjamin and Quentin “Rocky” White but it is very much Ellington – the pianist, who is at the center.
The CD starts with Ellington playing what is listed as Piano Improvisation No. 1 but it is basically a version of Meditation. It is followed by Take the “A” Train with an extended introduction by Ellington.
Next on the CD is Pitter Panther Patter with Benjamin and White joining Ellington. The CD ends with the famous tap dancer Baby Laurence demonstrating his skills.
Tone Parallel issue 3
In April, Ian Bradley published the third issues of his ambitious newsletter Tone Parallel and a fourth issue will be published in September. Go to https://toneparallel.substack.com/ to register and get access to them.
The April one is about a symphony that the city of Jacksonville on the Atlantic coast of Florida commissioned Duke Ellington to write to celebrate the 150th anniversary of its founding. It got the name Celebration and was premiered by Jacksonville Symphony on 16 May 1972 with Ellington present.
Stanley Dance was also there and he wrote an article about the event for the English Jazz Journal. Ian Bradley is kind to quote extensively from it.
Ellington assigned the orchestration of the symphony to the orchestra leader, composer and arranger Ron Collier, who worked from sketches by Ellington. According to Bradley, Collier also went to Jacksonville just before the première to finish the orchestration there.
An essential part of Bradley’s article is what “retired Senior Managing Attorney at one of the world’s largest financial institutions”, Deborah Hollis Kaye told him in an interview earlier this year. She is the daughter of the late world-famous plastic surgeon Dr. Bernard L. Kaye, who lived in Jacksonville with his family. He was also a member of the Jacksonville Symphony.
Kaye was chosen by the Symphony to have a solo part in Celebration and Ms. Kaye told Bradley a lot about this and her work in late life to track down the recording of the première of the symphony with Kaye´s solo(s). A fascinating story!
As usual, Bradley brings a lot of his own reflections based on what he had learnt into the article, which makes it even more interesting and worthwhile to read.
The Jacksonville Symphony had intended to play Celebration in March 2020 but had to cancel the performance due to COVID restrictions. However, it made a short promotional video about this and the symphony, which is available on YouTube.
Jan Bruér kåseri på DESS’ årsmöte den 4 april om Ellingtonmusik framförd av svenska grupper. Det spelades in av Göran Axelssons och han lyckades fånga hela föredraget utom de första 30 sekunderna.
Musiken som Jan spelade och pratade om var:
Bobo Stenson: Reflections in D (1983)
Gals and Pals: Det är vårt öde att doa (Satin Doll) (1964)
Nisse Lind: Jubilee Stomp (1937)
Alice Babs: Diga Diga Do (1940)
Svenska Hotkvintetten: Mood Indigo (1940)
Thore Ehrling: Ring Dem Bells (1945)
Sonya Hedenbratt med Arne Domnerus’ orkester: Perdido (1951)
Lars Gullin: I Got It Bad (1951)
Putte Wickman: Koko (1953)
Lennart Åberg: Rockin’ In Rhythm (1996)
Arne Domnérus: Chelsea Bridge