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Ellington ’88 In Oldham (2)

When one looks at the program for the conference, which has got a very nice and clear design, it is easy to understand why it is considered as one of the best in the series of Ellington Study Group Conferences.

Oldham 88 Program

The presentation part is very strong both on paper and when one listens to them in Sjef Hoefsmit’s videos from the conference.

It is supplemented by a excellent concert program including three concerts – ”A Nite at the Cotton Club”, ”A Portrait of See’ Pea” and ”The Extended Ellington”.

The presence of Ellington alumnies like Alice Babs, Bill Berry, Buster Cooper, Herb Jeffries and Jimmy Woode at the conference and their active participation in it gave a special dimension to the event.

The DESS website will this time give more of thematic rather than chronological snapshots of the conference. This article gives some of the presentations on early Ellington.

But first we will let John E. Hasse talk about Mercer Ellington’s donation of Duke Ellington’s papers to the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. It was Hasse’s first appearance at an Ellington Conference but there would be many more.

At Ellington ’89 in Washington D.C. a full day was devoted to the Ellington Archive and the presentations on that occasion can be viewed here.

We have chosen two presentations on early Ellington for this article. The first is by Jerry Valburn – one of the instigators of the Ellington Study Group conferences and leading authority on Duke Ellington. He had chosen to talk about Ellington’s recording career 1923-1929.

The second presentation is by the noted jazz researcher and jazz journalist Frank Dutton. He had chosen Ellington’s Cotton Club period, on which he was a respected authority, as his topic.

All these three presentations were given at the first day of the conference and in the evening of it, the conference participants were invited to ”A Nite at the Cotton Club”. The English band Harlem provided the music and Herb Jeffries guided the audience through the night.

Here is a short excerp from the start of it. We will return to it in a later article.

 

 

 

 

 

Ellington ’88 in Oldham (1)

The Ellington Study Group Conference in Oldham, England in 1985 was apparently very special. Roger Boyes, who was one of the participants, says that ”the spirit it generated was quite magical”.

As a result, the organizers took the decision ”there and then” to do it again. However, planning for Newark ’86 was already well in hand by then, and Toronto was penciled in for ’87. So 1988 was the next year available.

Once the conference was announced, the registrations for participation started to come in quickly and soon it was a sold-out event.

Ellington ’88 – Invitation

Bo Haufman, Deputy Chair of DESS and the editor of the DESS Bulletin, took part in the conference and remembers it very well.

”It was my first Ellington Study Group Conference and it was a very good experience, which triggered me to go to many more, including Birmingham 2018 in two weeks. It took place in the same venue as the 1985 conference – Birch Hall in Oldham – and was run in a very capable way by Mike Hazeldine after the sad passing away of Eddie Lambert about a year before the conference.

Almost all of the presentations were very interesting. I remember in particular the ones by Loren Schoenberg, who talked about “Midriff”, and by Bob Wilber, who made a very knowledgeable presentation of Johnny Hodges and his development over the years.

Jerry Valburn talked about both common and odd 78 rpm Ellington records in his extensive collection of records and Klaus Stratemann about his “Day by Day” project.

In the many panels, that discussed various aspects of Duke Ellington and his music, we could hear Sjef Hoefsmit, Patricia Willard, Andrew Homzy, Jack Towers, Alice Babs, Herb Jeffries and several others.

The evening concerts were presented by a fantastic band put together and led by Bob Wilber. Guest performer was Bill Berry and of course Herb Jeffries and Alice Babs appeared with the band. In it were such names as Jimmie Woode, Buster Cooper, Danny Moss and Anti Sarpila. Afterwards Herb Jeffries gave us a wonderful show ending with “Flamingo”.

The Swedes, who attended the Conference, were Carl-Erik Carlsson, Peter Lee and myself and then of coursefor Alice Babs and Nils Sjöblom.”

The organizing committee had worked hard for almost two years to get everything in place and the day before the conference some of its members made sure that the conference attendees would easily find their way to the conference venue.

Bob Wilber followed in their steps and brought together the band for an two and a half hour rehearsal before the start of the conference.

And then finally, in the morning of May 26, 1988, it was time to open the conference.

The opening ceremony ended with Hazeldine inviting Herb Jeffries to the podium to say a few words. ”It is all for the love of Duke” was Jeffries credo.

 

 

 

 

 

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