Andrew Homzy at Ellington ’91
I have resumed to digitize Sjef Hoefsmit’s videos from Ellington Study Group conferences and have started with Ellington ’91 in Los Angeles. Over the next months I will publish 3-5 articles with the best presentations and panels. The rest of the videos will be uploaded to the Ellington Conferences section of the Ellington Archive.
Andrew Homzy was one of the speakers on the first day. He was originally scheduled to speak about Anatomy of a Murder but in the last minute, he changed the topic to be about some of his findings of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn manuscripts after 10 weeks of research in the Ellington Archive.
Comments on the presentation are welcome. They can be sent to me using the mailadress: firstname.lastname@example.org.
DESS Bulletin 2022-4
The new issue of the DESS Bulletin arrived in the mailbox of DESS members at the end of last week. Bo Haufman, its editor and also the chairman of DESS, has put together another interesting and informative issue.
As Bo says in his editorial, it is an issue with several themes.
The first one is Buster Cooper, who also is the cover boy this time.
In an four page article, Bo Haufman tells about his career inside and outside the Ellington orchestra.
The focus is of course Cooper’s seven years with the Ellington Orchestra from 1962 to 1969 but it is very good that Bo gives us his full story so we can better understand who he was.
An important period in Cooper’s life was when he went to New York in 1950 and enrolled in the Hartnett Scool of Music. His studies there made him a good music reader and this competence defined in many ways his career. He was an ensemble man and not much of a soloist.
This was his role in the Lionel Hampton Orchestra, which he joined in 1953 and with which he visited Sweden in September that year. On the recording from the concert in Stockholm, he is only heard in the ensembles. The trombone solo in Summertime is most likely played by Jimmy Cleveland.
Cooper joined the Ellington Orchestra on 17 June 1962. Her had rejected two earlier offers to be a member of the band but finally accepted the third one.
“Ellington certainly did not engage him as a trombone soloist but most probably because he was a good reader. In his book on Ellington’s trombonists, Kurt Dietrich describes Cooper’s style as follows: “Cooper was to develop a voice with the band unlike that of any other trombonists in the history of the band. His identity was quickly established as a blues player, but not a plunger blues player.”
Eddie Lambert says about him: “As a soloist he preferred an aggressive almost violent declamatory style on open horn.”
Haufman lists a number of Cooper solos that he considers to be the most significant. I have put some of them in a Spotify playlist with music mentioned in the new Bulletin.
When Cooper left Ellington in June 1969 he went back home to St, Petersburg in Florida. However, he did not stay there long but resettled to Los Angeles in 1973 and there he stayed for 21 years working in film- and recording studio orchestras. Haufman quotes him as having said “I was the busiest black trombonists on the West Coast.”
In 1994, Cooper returned to St. Petersburg and there he played for 17 years at jazz clubs in and around the town, often together with the bassist John Lamb, who had played in the Ellington Orchestra at the same time as he. Cooper left the earthly world in 2016.
The second theme is views on Ellington and his music and examples of this are given in three articles.
One is from the Swedish magazine Filmjournalen, where its filmcritic Stig Almqvist writes about Ellington’s upcoming 1939 tour of Sweden. The article is interesting particularly because it reflects the view in the upper social echelons of the Swedish society of the time on film and jazz . There is “a primitive audience for jazz as there is for film, he says and continues “both jazz and film are turned towards the big masses and satisfy in its low non-artistic form particularly young people from the social strata which not at all or only rarely have been confronted with artistic products.”
However, Almqvist admits that like in film, there is occurrences in jazz that combine popularity and music of high artistic level. “Foremost in this group is Duke Ellington” he says and goes on to talk about Ellington’s visit and his music.
The article is illustrated with one photo of the full orchestra posing in The Hague just before parting for Sweden and two photos from Ellington’s Swedish tour – one with the whole orchestra in front of a bus and another with Johnny Hodges, Juan Tizol, Barney Bigard and Sonny Greer.
Another article in this part of the Bulletin is about Ellington’s stop-over in Holland before heading for Stockholm by train on 10th April. It is written by Mark Berresford and was originally published in the Spring 2000 issue of his Vintage Jazz Mart. It gives a detailed account of Ellington’s and the orchestra’s criss-crossing of France, Belgium and Holland to give concerts and have a long report from the concert in The Hague on 8th April.
It is written J.P. Gussenhoven, a former president of the Dutch Jazz League, and is very detailed account full of comments and views of what was played at the concert on 8th April. I think on can suppose that the same repertoire was played at the concerts in Sweden.
The third article is a reprint of an article in the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter published sometime in 1944. The anonymous article is written by someone knowledgable about Ellington and respectful of him. It gives a lot of information about Ellington to the readers of Dagens Nyheter and should have made many of them interested in learning more about him.
The third theme is Ellington compositions and this time it is about Solitude. It has a condensed reprint from Mike Zirpolo’s invaluable blog Swing & Beyond (https://swingandbeyond.com). Zirpolo starts by writing about the turmoil in the American record industry in the early 1930’s, which led Ellington to record for Victor “mid-August 1933 to mid-September 1934”. He then left Victor for the American Record Corporation (ARC).
Under his Victor contract, Ellington recorded Solitude “on January 10, 1934 and a remake of it as his first tune with ARC “on September 13, 1934”. By that time Victor had not released the January 10 recording. It only did so “until “November 7, 1934. However Zirpolo’s description of Solitude in his article is the Victor record. It is available on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAdSUi3rSG4) and included in the Spotify playlist with music mentioned in the new Bulletin.
Bo Haufman gives additional information about recordings of Solitude in a separate article.
Other articles by his hand in the new issue are about Timme Rosencrantz, Ellington’s appearances at the Newport Jazz Festival and Lena Junoff. They are all good reading!
DESS member Göran Axelsson has another article on Ellington in social media. This time it is about Ellington on Facebook and Göran tells about the most important Ellington groups there.
Dogwood Hollow, Stony Brook, 18 July 1958, Part 2
Some years ago, I got a parcel from the late Sjef Hoefsmit. The contents was a CD, with some notable recordings with the Ellington orchestra where Oscar Pettiford was the basist, outside his regular role (1945-48) with Duke. I believe this should be of interest to the DESS-members, and the webbsite has therefor decided to make this music available to DESS’ members in the the Goodies Room.
It is a concert at Stony Brook in 1958 and we published the first part of it a couple of weeks ago.. Now we offer the second par of the concert for DESS members listening. Other parts will be presented in December and Januari respectively.
Before Oscar started with Duke Ellington he had a thorough reputation as a bass player with the then young Beboppers such as Gillespie, Monk, and Kenny Clarke but he had also played with Ben Webster and Coleman Hawkins. When he joined the Ellington band in 1945 he continued in the row of brilliant bass players tha started with Jimmy Blanton and continued with Junior Raglin. He was also an accomplished cello player. which he showed from time to time. After his tenure with Ellington he was very active in various jazz groups, ranging from small bands to big bands, such as Thelonious Monk’s and Woody Herman’s. He also played with his own groups. In 1958 he moved to Copenhagen and there he died in 1960, at 38 years of age, from a virus disease.
Johnny Hodges at Dogwood Hollow playing Violet Blue
Back to the concert at Dogwood Hollow
The following numbers are played:
*Take The A Train*Such Sweet Thunder*Violet Blue*All Of Me*St Louis BluesBill Bailey*Walkin’ And Singin’ The Blues*Hi Fi Fo Fum (nc)*Hi Fi Fo Fum*Medley:Do’t Get Around Much Anymore/Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me/In A SentimentMood Indigo/I’m Beginning To See The Light/Sophisticated Lady/Caravan/I Got It Bad/Just Squeeze Me/It Don’t Mean A Thing*
Go to the Goodies Room and the second part of the concert
We hope you will enjoy it!
Blue Light Autumn 2022
The latest issue of Blue Light is with its 52 pages full of good reading thanks to the hard and creative work of the editor Gareth Evans.
As in the previous issue, the major contributions come from Roger Boyes, Fred Glueckstein and Gareth Himself.
Roger Boyes continues his series on Ellington in the Forties. This time he writes about Ellington’s 1948 Carnegie Hall concert, which took place on 13 November 1948. A complete recording of the concert was issued on a double CD album by Vintage Jazz Classics (VJC) in 1991, and with the help of the two CDs and its liner notes by Andrew Homzy, Boyes goes through the concert song by song and gives his own comments intertwined with those of Homzy. He also make comparisons to the concert at Cornell University a month later with almost the same program. This concert is also available on CD.
A very valuable element of the article is Boyes’ comments on how long the music of the concert stayed in Ellington’s repertoire. He classifies 17 of the 31 pieces of the concert as “rarities”, that is melodies that disappeared from the Ellington repertoire rather soon after the concert. Boyes’ personal favourites from the concert are Lady of the Lavender Mist, She Wouldn’t Be Moved and Lush Life. Out of the many premieres at the concert, he singles out The Tattooed Bride and writes rather extensively about it.
Fred Glueckstein also writes about a Carnegie Hall Concert but the first one in January 1943. It is a rather descriptive article but full of information. It covers among other things the origins of the 1943 concert, foremost Black, Brown and Beige, the National Ellington Week, the plaque Ellington received at the concert and the reviews of the concert. Of course, Glueckstein also writes about the program of the concert. He lists the official program, which each person who attended the concert received, and gives the changes to it in the actual performance.
Another contribution by Glueckstein in the new Blue Light issue is a continuation of the article about Qeenie Pie that started in the previous issue. This time he writes with a lot of details about the performances of Queenie Pie, particularly its World Premiere in Philadelphia 18 September 1986, the following performance in October at the Eisenhower Theatre in Kennedy Centre in Washington D.C. and the failed efforts to bring it to Broadway. The next article of Qeenie Pier will be about the staging of the opera at “opera theatres and university musical departments around the country”.
Gareth Evans‘ eight page article “If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em” is about how Ellington connected to rock ‘n’ roll music in the 1960’s and early 1970’s and it is one that breaks a lot of new ground.
The title of the article is also the name of a Gerry Mulligan album from 1965 with rock ‘n’ roll covers.
“If we were to collect all of the titles that were recorded with the band and which showed the influence of rock ‘n roll music we would probably have enough of material for a double lp”, says Evans, and he does his outmost in his article to give us examples of such titles.
Was Ellington’s performance at the Newport Jazz Festival 7 October 1956 with Paul Gonsalves his first rock and roll performance? Evans seems to be a little bit ambivalent about this but to a fifteen year old boy jumping around in the family living room together with his friends while listening to the newly issued Philips LP with the concert, it certainly was.
For Evans, “Duke’s first remediated attempt at recording a rock and roll number came a year later when he recorded Cop Out and Rock City Rock”. Perhaps but not everyone might agree.
His most interesting and convincing examples are those at the end of the article like the Beatle songs All My Lovin’ and I Want to Hold Your Hand, the rocky Blue Pepper in Far East Suite Suite, Didgeridoo in Afro Eurasian Eclipse with its late “exotic” manners , Chico Cuadradino in Latin American Suite, Wild Big Davis’ rhythm and blues like Luv and the soul-influenced One More Time For The People.
At the end of his rich and interesting article Evans says: “In the final analysis, it must be concluded that Duke maintained a general interest in rock ‘n’ roll but in a similar way to his relationship with bop, always kept it somewhat at an arm’s length: he neither beat or joined ’em.”
Besides these three articles, the new issue has a very substantial section with reviews of the many concerts with Ellington music in England, review of bokks and quite a lot of shorter articles.
Get it and read it!
Ellington News-Nyheter 2022-4
In this article with news from the Ellington world, I cover the new issue of DESUK’s Blue Light, Ian Bradley’s Tone Parallel 5, the latest DESScafé and Uptown Lockdown and Storyville’s reissue of the 1988 LP “Ben Webster Plays Ellington”.
I should have written about many other things but I like to keep the length of the article to maximum 1000 words. I have left space for information about the Ellington Study Group Conference in Paris next year as soon as it become available yet.
New issue of Blue Light
The autumn 2022 issue of Blue Light will arrive in the mail and post boxes of the DESUK members any day. It is another expanded edition, this time with 50 pages of interesting reading plus a nice front cover and photo back cover. We should really be grateful to Gareth Evens for his hard work to put it together.
My summary of the content is available in a separate article.
Tone Parallel issue 5
The topic is once again the Ellington Week at the University of Wisconsin in July 1972. The major part of the article is built on an interview with record producer Chuck Nessa.
He founded Nessa Records in 1967 at the urging of Roscoe Mitchell and Lester Bowie. Tthe record label became an important vehicle for Art Ensemble of Chicago and similar group.
According to Bradley, Nessa became interested in Ellington at an early age and developed this over the years. He attended Ellington concerts when he could and when Ness produced an Randy Weston album, he “came into contact with Ellington’s sister Ruth”.
Apparently Duke Ellington also knew about Ness and one day at the eve of the UWIS festival, he called Ness and offered him tickets for the whole week. So NESS attended with his wife and in the article Bradley tells us what Ness told him.
The article is very nicely illustrated by images of news paper articles and photos in a scrap book that Ness (?) put together at one point in time.
There is also a part in the article about the strained relationship between Duke and Paul Gonsalves in the later years and the moving reconciliation between them at Ellington’s last lecture at UWIS.
The September DESScafé took place 17 October 2022 and its theme was Duke Ellington 1951-1955.
Under this title, Anders Asplund, Thomas Erikson, Rasmus Henriksen och Leif Jönsson demonstrated how the Duke Ellington Orchestra developed from the beginning to the middle of the 1950’s thanks to the recruitment of young and talented musicians with roots in modern jazz when older musicians left.
The music played in the meeting can be listened to in the DESScafé Jukebox
A new Uptown Lockdown podcast was posted on YouTube by Brian Priestley on 29 October. In it he talks to journalist-author-broadcaster-
New Ben Webster record
Within the framework of the celebration of its 70th anniversary, Storyville Records has reissued the 1988 LP “Ben Webster Plays Ellington” in its Storyville Vinyl Remasters series. Accordingly, the record has the original sleeve design and Brian Priestley’s liner notes with insightful comments and is a limited edition release pressed on 180 gram virgin vinyl.
Recently, It was also made available in digital format unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
Just to remind our readers, all versions of Ben Webster Plays Ellington (including the new one) have four quartet numbers and five with the Danish Radio Big Band (or its predecessor). Two of the quartet numbers are from the Pori Jazz Festival 14 July 1967 and two from a concert at the Odd Fellow Palace in Copenhagen 1969. The big band numbers were broadcasted by Danish Radio 22 November 1971, 10 October 1969 and 27 November 1969.
The CD version has two additional tracks from a concert in Sweden in 1972.
Author: Ulf Lundin