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Duke Ellington i Storvik den 23 april 1939

Storviks järnvägsstation som den kan ha sett ut vid Ellingtons besök 1939

Många av våra medlemmar kanske är osäkra på var man kan hitta Storvik på världskartan, eftersom orten idag kan tyckas obetydlig. På 1800-talets senare hälft då man byggde stambanorna i Sverige hade man kommit fram till att två viktiga järnvägslinjer skulle korsa varandra här, vilket gjorde att det lilla samhället blev en viktig trafikknutpunkt. Orten är idag en del av Sandvikens kommun och tågen fortsätter att passera här, men stationen är numera knappast i ursprungligt bruk.

Duke Ellington och hans orkester gjorde i april 1939 en månadslång turné i nord- och västeuropa och besökte bl.a. Frankrike, Holland och Belgien, men huvuddelen av turnén tillbringades i Sverige, som tycks ha utgjort huvudmålet för Duke och hans mannar. Den 22 april hade orkestern kommit till Eskilstuna där man hade en konsert och nästa morgon satte man sig på tåget till Storvik, där man skulle ha en konsert kl 14.30 på eftermiddagen för att senare fortsätta med tåg till Uppsala där ytterligare en konsert skulle gå av stapeln. Nedan ses några tidningsnotiser om det kommande evenemanget. (mer…)

A Birthday Party with Duke Ellington and His Orchestra (2)

jimmy-jones

Jimmy Jones also took part in the birthday party

The first part of Bob Udkoff’s birthday party ended with Duke at the piano playing New World A-Comin’, an important composition of his from the first part of the 1940’s. After a number of attemped intros, the second part of the celebrations starts with New York City Blues, a sweet little tune that was introduced at Carnegie Hall in 1947 and very seldom played in later years. Jimmy Jones joins Ellington at the piano in Fats Waller’s Just Squeeze Me, and then Johnny Hodges plays in his usual solo style Drag, Prelude To A Kiss and Things Ain’t What they Used To Be, the latter being cut short because the tape ran out.

New York City Blues and birthday chatter

After Johnny Hodges’ performances, it is Cootie Williams’ turn to handle I’m Beginning To See The Light and then Satin Doll is played yet another time as background to Duke’s introduction of Bob Udkoff and his wife Evelyn which is followed by a speech by Udkoff and a joint performance of the band and guests of Happy Birthday. (mer…)

A Birthday Party with Duke Ellington and His Orchestra (1)

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Bob Udkoff was born in Chicago but moved later to California and settled in Los Angeles. He was a lifelong friend and associate of Duke Ellington, Joe Williams, Kenny Burrell and many others in the jazz world. He had a successful career as a founder of Blue Haven Pools.

Duke and Udkoff had been friends since 1934 when Udkoff worked for a dry cleaner and dropped off Duke’s clothes at the Dunbar Hotel in Los Angeles where Duke was staying.

When Bob Udkoff celebrated his 50th birthday on April 17, 1968 at Cabellero Country Club in Los Angeles, Duke Ellington and his Orchestra provided the music and took part in the celebrations.

Udkoff recorded privately about  four hours of music by Duke and his men, and also by other guests.

A few years ago these tapes found their way to Sjef Hoefsmit with the stated purpose that he could make them available to Ellington fans on a non-commercial basis. The material fills 3 CD records and today we are happy to offer the content of the first one to the DESS-members for listening and downloading in the Goodies Room. This is possible thanks to the generosity of Mark Cantor – the jazz film specialist with his website http://jazz-on-film.com/ – who has provided us with the files.

Duke played a lot of piano solos, with the band joining in now and then. No charts were used by the band members, but this of course was familiar ground to all of them. Duke starts with Salute To Morgan State and I Can’t Get Started. There is sometimes a rather loud chatter from the birthday guests, which is one reason why these performances were not judged feasible for commercial issue.

Duke at the piano
(the top picture is not from this session)

The band joins in on I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart and Don’t Get Around Much Anymore where Johnny Hodges is heard soloing. Next, Jimmy Jones takes over as piano player with Cat Anderson as the soloist in Satin Doll. Lawrence Brown is the trombone player heard on I Left My Heart In San Fransisco whereafter The Twitch is played by Duke and the full band.

Mood Indigo is played in usual fashion after a few different introductions and after a short interlude. Cootie Williams is the soloist in Fly Me To The Moon. Next is a new performance of Satin Doll with Duke at the piano and with Paul Gonsalves playing tenor. This is followed by Duke playing solo piano on  Dance No 3 from the Liberian Suite after which we can hear Clark Terry playing in Stompin’ At The Savoy. At the end of this CD, Duke again is at the piano playing Blue Belles of Harlem, Meditation and New World A-Comin’.

No attempt has been made at editing this recording, which means that the listener has to accept some interruptions and guest chatter. Nevertheless, listening to this recording could be of interest to the DESS members. We hope you’ll enjoy it!

 

Duke at The Hollywood Empire in 1949 (3)

Tom Breneman's Hollywood Restaurant

The predecessor to The Hollywood Empire was called Tom Breneman’s

Thomas Breneman Smith (June 18, 1902 – April 28, 1948) was a popular 1940s American radio personality known to his listeners as Tom Breneman. For most of his career, he was based in Southern California, in Los Angeles and Hollywood. His radio program was such a success that he established  Tom Breneman’s Restaurant in Hollywood, which attracted many actors, musicians and others. In 1948 it was renamed The Hollywood Empire with Gene Norman as one of the partners. For the opening in December 1948, Woody Herman’s 2nd Herd was hired and before Duke Ellington and his orchestra appeared in Februari 1949, both Louis Armstrong and Billy Eckstine appeared there. Our third programme from The Empire is also from Februari 1949, according to New Desor, the session number is DE4906 which would indicate that the recording date is after February 10. Below you can listen to one of Kay Davis’ better performances from the period, He Makes Me Believe.

Kay Davis sings

The complete broadcast, originally issued as  AFRS Jubilee J-349 can be found in the Goodies Room. (mer…)

The Duke at The Hollywood Empire in 1949 (2) with Billie Holiday

Duke & Billie

Duke & Billie around 1949

Our next visit to the Empire Hotel in Hollywood brings you music from February 9, 1949, originally issued on AFRS JJ-47 (AFRS=Armed Forces Radio Service). It has not been issued commercially, but one of the numbers, The Tattooed Bride, appears on an LP record presented at the Ellington-90 conference. Our source tape also includes two numbers sung by Billie Holliday, but it is not known whether this was part of the original broadcast material or if the Holiday songs were inserted for a re-broadcast. Be that as it may, it is always a pleasure to listen to her singing.

Billie sings Miss Brown To You

Members will find the complete recording from this occasion in the Goodies Room, the sound quality being acceptable, and hopefully the contents is of interest. (mer…)

Duke at The Hollywood Empire in 1949

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The 1949 band

Harlem Air Shaft

Due to the 1948 recording ban in USA, there is not much of recorded material by Ellington and his orchestra from 1948. In fact, Ellington did not go into a recording studio until September 1, 1949.

Fortunately, some concerts and broadcasts have survived allowing us to hear how the Ellington band sounded in 1948 and early 1949.

In late November 1948, the band played at the Click Restaurant in Philadelphia and material from six different NBC broadcasts from there has survived.

At the end of January 1949, Ellington started to tour the West Coast where he had a three-week engagement from February 1 at The Hollywood Empire located at 1539 Vine Street in Hollywood.

Gene Norman, well-known disc-jockey and impresario, had opened it in December 1948. One reason seems to have been that “the Woody Herman band had no place to work”. Herman was followed by Billy Eckstine at the club

The Hollywood Empire was in an area that in the 1930s and 1940s was known as Radio City due to all the radio studios and radio-themed bars and restaurants located there.

 

During Ellington’s stay at The Hollywood Empire, American Field Radio Service (AFRS) recorded nine  broadcasts from club. Some of them were aired in the Jubilee series and others in the Just Jazz series.

In the Ellington discographies, three of broadcasts have specific recording dates while the others are identified as having been recorded in February. Seven of the broadcasts were originally  issued on AFRS records but two have remained unissued. Approximately 50% of the surviving material has been issued commercially, albeit on rather unusual labels.

This time, DESS members is given the opportunity to listen to one of the unissued broadcasts in the Goodies section of the website.

It is the one identified as DE4909 in NDESOR. (Since the main part  of these broadcasts were dated February 1949, the NDESOR number is a perhaps the best way to distinguish them from each other).

(mer…)

Ellington at Cirkus in 1966 – TV Concert set 2

duke-kissing-ella

Ella sings Satin Doll

Around a year ago we wrote, when presenting a copy of a telecast from Cirkus in Stockholm on Feb. 8, 1966: ”The first set of the Cirkus concert was undoubtedly telecasted by Swedish Television (and was also rebroadcasted by the French TV-station M6 around 1990). However, it is more doubtful if the second set was ever broadcasted. The new DESOR lists it as ”Pre-rec for SR telecast” and so far a video copy of a telecast of the second set has not surfaced.” A copy of the second part has now been found to prove that it was in fact telecasted, although the date is not exactly known. The name of the TV programme was ”Ella at Duke’s Place” and it is now presented to the DESS members in the Goodies Room. (mer…)

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