DESS Bulletin 2021-1
The first issue of the DESS Bulletin for 2021 was sent to the DESS members yesterday. Its editor, Bo Haufman has produced another ambitious issue.
This time, the featured artist is trumpeter Louis Metcalf, who participated in recording sessions with the Ellington band in 1926 and 1927 and finally become a regular member of the orchestra for about a year in late 1927.
In a four-page article, Bo Haufman goes through Metcalf’s life and career with emphasis on his time with Ellington. It is supplemented by a reprint of an “Oral History” interview with Metcalf.
Another theme in the new issue of the DESS Bulletin is Harlem. It has two articles by Bo Haufman himself on the theme – one about the Ellington recordings of s music with Harlem in its name and another about Ellington’s composition The Sidewalks of New York.
A third theme is Ellington’s composition Sepia Panorama. There are two articles on this topic – one is by Mike Zirpolo and another quoted from Walter van de Leur’s presentation at the Ellington ’94 conference in Stockholm on the Ellington-Strayhorn collaboration.
In addition to these six articles, there are some more good reads in the new Bulletin. Just pick it up and find out about them yourself.
Blue Light Autumn 2020
The last issue of DESUK’s Blue Light for 2020 arrived a couple of weeks ago. It is quite research focused. The key article in this section is another impressive piece by Roger Boyes’ series on Ellington in the years of the Petrillo recording ban.
It is titled Live At The Hurricane but it covers much more than the title indicate.
It starts with the aftermath to the Carnegie Hall concert on Jan. 23, 1943 and the ensuing road tour, continues with different aspects of the engagement from April 1, 1943 at the Hurricane Restaurant on the second floor of the Brill Building on 1619 Broadway at 49th Street and ends with discussing the famous Mutual Broadcasts from Hurricane in a wider context.
Another solid and interesting research-oriented article is Pedro Cravinho’s Jazz, Revue and a Thriller. The Response of the Birminham Press to Duke Ellington’s 1933 Tour.
It is developed from a presentation he gave at the 2018 Ellington conference in Birmingham. Because of the organisation of the conference in workshops, many participants were not able to listen to it so it is most welcome that a further developed version is published by Blue Light.
The last articles in the research part deals with the Lockdown Lowdown initiative, which provides weekly broadcasts with all sorts of people with knowledge and views on Ellington.
Finally, the new Blue Light has also an enjoyable article by Brian Priestly full of insights about Clark Terry on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his birth.
The tireless YouTube observer Brian Koller has drawn the attention of the community of Ellington fans to this new Ellington sound-only video on YouTube. Thank you, Brian.
Paris 28 februari 1963. En av två minnesvärda inspelningsdagar. Men varför hade sångerskan problem med den sista sången för dagen?
New Ellington CD from Maison du Duke
The 13th CD in La Maison du Duke’s series of rare Ellington music and performances is available to MDD members since some weeks.
It is titled is Special Occasions with Cab Calloway, Menuhin & Kenton 1955-1963 but Paul Whiteman’s should also have appeared in it because the first part of the CD is from Whiteman’s telecast with Ellington in the CBS’ series America’s Greatest Bands.
This series ran in the summer of 1955 with Whiteman as host and featured in addition to Ellington guests like Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Xavier Cugat, Ralph Flanagan and Eddie Sauter, Gene Krupa, Charlie Barnet, Percy Faith and others.
Ellington appeared on July 9 following Armstrong the week before.
Two weeks later – July 26 – Ellington was featured on another CBS’ telecast called Music ’55. It was hosted by Stan Kenton and was a weekly show, which ran every Tuesday night from July 12 to September 13 1955.
The CD has Ellington playing a couple of bars of Artistry In Rhythm and then sharing Take The A Train with Stan Kenton at a separate piano. This is followed by Yehudi Menuhin performing Come Sunday together with Ellington.
Missing from the CD is Ellington narrating Pretty And The Wolf (aka Monologue) with the Kenton “television band” doing the music part.
However, it is included in full filmclip of the July 26 Music telecast. The clip also demonstrates that the principal guest of the show was Yehudi Menuhin and not Ellington.
Kenton’s new singer Ann Richards, who had joined the band 6 months before, also appear in the clip and sings two songs.
The show ends with an “exotic” dance number to Peanut Vendor.
The final part of the CD – and the most enjoyable one – is the concert in Lambertville, New Jersey on August 12, 1963 when Cab Calloway stepped in to conduct the Ellington orchestra and Billy Strayhorn took over the piano chair.
Ellington was at the time in Chicago for the final preparations of the premiere of My People, which opened four days later.
The concert had two parts – a first one with the typical repertoire of the Ellington orchestra at the time and a second with Calloway singing some of his popular songs. Only one of them – St. James Infirmary – is on the CD.
The first part of the concert has previously been issued on the Azure CA 19 cassette.
Like previous MDD CDsones, the new one is only available for members of La Maison du Duke. The membership fee is 20 euros and in addition one has to pay 5 euros for the postage.
The second part of the Jack Cullen interview is now available for DESS members in the Goodies section.
As in the first part, Cullen asks Ellington questions about songs he has written, artists he has worked with and episodes in his life.
Among the songs, they talk about Solitude – “I wrote it in 20 minutes standing up”, In A Sentimental Mood – “it was written very spontaneously in Durham, South Carolina”, I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart – “It was the only song thrown out of the show I wrote for the new Cotton Club” and I Got It Bad – “I wrote it in Salt Lake City”.
As regards artists, Cullen asks only about singers – Ivie Anderson and Al Hibbler – and Ellington talks quite extensively about Anderson and the date when she joined the band – Feb. 13 1931.
Ellington talks also warmly about his short period with Musicraft Records – “wonderful people …. world’s greatest contract” and his recordings for Standard Transcriptions.
As Ellington aficionados and aficionadas know, Music Is My Mistress has a section on Ellington songs. Either Ellington had a very good memory when he talked to Stanley Dance about them because his words in the book about some of the songs are the same as in the Cullen interview or Dance used the interview as an additional source for his writing.
Duke Ellington and his orchestra spent October 1962 in the American West, particularily in California.
At the end of the month, he and the band crossed the border into Canada and started a two-week engagement at Isy’s Supper Club in Vancouver, British Columbia.
In Vancouver, Jack Cullen was a well-known radio host and disc jockey since the late 1940’s with his “Owl Prowl” program. He also had as a speciality to interview visiting music celebrities and make unauthorised recordings of their concerts. This made him considered as “the irreverent rebel in radio”.
On October 30 after the last show at Isy’s, Cullen and his friend Bobby Hughes went back stage and asked Ellington if he would come over to the radio station and do an interview.
“Ellington was in a good mood”, remembers Cullen, “so we walked back the three blocks to my studio ….. and on the way we got him some good Canadian rye to sip during the interview”.
Cullen claims that the group did not break up until 5 in the morning – “it was one of the longest ones I ever done”. Towards the end of the second part of the interview, Cullen notes that the time is 20 to 4 but it seems that the interview continued after that.
The interview we publish today and next week is spoken 35 minutes long and spoken words only. However, when one examines the recording, it is obvious that it has been edited in many places and most likely it is the music played during the interview, which has been cut out.
This month, the website publish the interview in two installments in its Goodies section – the first one today and the second one next week.
Cullen and Hughes quickly get Ellington in a relaxed mood and the interview is a walk with him through quite a number of compositions he had recorded.
CLARK TERRY 1920-2015
Today is the 100 anniversary of the birth of Clark Terry. He had a very long and distinguished career and recorded a very a large number of records.
Ellington aficionados remember him especially for his eight years with Duke Ellington (1951-1959) but his legacy is much larger than this.
Today, DESS honour him in DESScafé with snapshots from his career to the beginning of the 1960’s. The second part of Terry’s career will be covered in DESScafé in January.
Clark Terry participated in some of the Ellington conferences, among them the one in Copenhagen in 1992. He played in clubs, participated in the concert with Danish Radio Big Band and appeared together with Arne Domnérus in a conference concert the last day.
DESS member Olle Lindholm was there and took a lot of photos. Here are some with Clark Terry in action. More of Olles photos from Copenhagen will be published in another article in the spring next year.
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.
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.
A playlist is available in the DESScafé section of the website.
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.
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.