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The Ellington Conference in Birmingham
There is still no website for the conference but it seems for sure that it will take place. The facility for buying conference tickets is up and running. Go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/25th-duke-ellington-conference-3-day-tickets-tickets-44978484859.
A three-day ticket to the conference costs £75 and one-day tickets will cost £30 for the Friday events, £35 for Saturday and £15 for Sunday.
Have trust in the organizers, buy your ticket(s) and book flight and hotel asap!
Jump For Joy documentary
A documentary about the musical revue is under preparation by a team in Los Angeles. One member of it is the jazz film specialist Mark Cantor, which should guarantee that it will be of high quality. It is still not known when it will be released. The DESS website will keep you posted.
Those of you that are not aware of Cantor’s fabulous website ”Jazz on Film (http://jazz-on-film.com) are strongly adviced to visit it. It is a treasury of information about films with jazz elements, especially from the 1930s and 1940s, and a labour of love.
Spring issue of Blue Light 2018 and 2016
The latest issue of DESUK’s Blue Light has arrived in the mailbox. Once again, its editor Ian Bradley provides a lot of interesting Ellington read.
The issue is dominated by the third installment of the series on Irving Mills’ Advertising Manuals for Ellington. This time it is a reprint of a third manual but without any commenting texts.
It also includes a major five-page article by Roger Boyes on ”Creole Rhapsody” and an article by Krin Gabbard on the firing of Charles Mingus from the Ellington Orchestra.
Since two years has passed since the 2016 Spring issue of Blue Light was published, it is now available to DESS members in the Ellington Archive.
Among the articles are two about Ellington’s Sacred Concert in the Coventry Cathedral in 1966, one about Harold Ashby as leader on records and one about Ellington’s visit to Châtaeu Goutelas in Loire (France) in 1966.
Steve Bowie, who is a muscian living in Pasadena, California, publish regularly podcasts on different aspects of Ellington and his music.
The latest podcast published just a couple of days ago is called ”Beyond The Usual Suspects, Again” and has as its starting point the handful of Ellington compositions like Mood Indigo, Satin Doll, In A Sentimental Mood, etc.which played over and over again at tribute concerts and in recording.
The one before was about Ray Nance as violinist and called ”Duke Ellington’s String Section”.
The podcasts are available on http://www.ellingtonreflections.com and can be downloaded from iTunes. They are also announced on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Ellington Study Group Conference May 25-27, 2018
Even if there is still no official announcement, it seems that the 25th Ellington Study Group Conference will take place in England or more precisely in Birmingham on May 25-27.
It is organized and hosted by the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and the School of Media, Birmingham City University in association with Duke Ellington Society UK (DESUK).
The conference starts at 17 o’clock on May 27 and ends on 13 o’clock on May 29.
The programme includes two keynote presentations, six thematic panels with presentations and four concerts by the Birmingham Conservatoire’s Ellington Jazz Orchestra.
The keynote presentations will be given by Dr. Harvey Cohen, Senior Lecturer, Kings College London and Dr. Katherine Williams, Lecturer in Music, Plymouth College. Dr. Cohen is the author of ”Duke Ellington’s America” and Dr. Williams is doing research for a new book on Duke Ellington.
The web editor has done some research on hotels in Birmingham not far from the site of the conference and the result can be found here.
In the beginning of January, Laurent Mignard and his Duke Orchestra presented a ”spectacle musical” in Paris called Jazzy Poppins. The show is inspired by the musical Mary Poppins and Duke Ellington’s Reprise album ”Duke Ellington Plays Mary Poppins”.
Another set of performances took place at the end of February and early March. Most likely, there will be even more.
Those, who do not live in Paris, can enjoy the show on CD. It can be ordered at the Laurant Mignard website http://www.laurent-mignard.com/jazzy-poppins-boutique/
On May 6 at 11 o’clock, the Duke Orchestra and the lead singer in the show, Sophie Kaufmann, will appear on the public radio station France Music (www. francemusique.fr) to perform a substantial part of the show.
In accordance with the agreement between the website and DESUK, issues 2015:4 and of Blue Light are now available to members of DESS in the Ellington article.
Especially interesting features in this issue is a report by DESUK’s late chairman Geoff Smith on the 2015 Ellington Study Group Conference in Portland, Oregon on Nov. 6-8, 2015, the first of two article by Matthew J. Cooper on Ellington as a pianist and a discussion between Roger Boyes and Geoff Smith on the Cambridge Companion to Duke Ellington published in 2015.
Next Ellington Study Group Conference
The next Ellington Study Group Conference will take place in Birmingham, England on 25-27 May 2018.
The conference is organized jointly by the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and the Birmingham City University in cooperation with DESUK. The main conference venue will be the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.
Details about the conference is in the announcement (attached) in the latest issue of DESUK’s Blue Light.
Maison du Duke has issued a new CD – ”Mingus Chez Duke” – to the benefit of its members. It has 20 tracks from the appearance of the Duke Ellington orchestra at Bandbox in New York Jan. 30-Feb. 9, 1953. To get the CD, one only has to pay the 20 EUR membership fee plus 5 EUR to cover the postage. Follow this link http://maison-du-duke.com/espace-membres/adherer-2/ to learn how to do it.
With the new issue of Blue Light, also DESUK provides its members with a CD. It is a copy of the CD of Hurricane airshots from the Timme Rosenkrantz collection, which Frits Schjøtt put together for the benefit of the participants at the 2016 Ellington conference.
In its August 17, 2017 issue, The New Yorker published an Ellington article by the pianist and composer Ethan Iverson, which is highly recommended for reading.
It is titled ”Duke Ellington, Bill Evans and A Night in New York” and can be found at this link:
It is also available to DESS members in the Ellington Archive.
The 2017 autumn issue of Blue Light has been distributed to DESUK members.
Following in the steps of the previous issue, it basically has one major article and some more house-keeping ones about DESUK activities and information on concerts with Ellington music in the U.K.
Possibly, this is because of the length of the article on Irving Mills’ Publicity Operation in the 1930s contributed by Steven Lasker. This very interesting and detailed article is highly recommended.
It discusses the four advertising manuals / press books that the Irving Mills organization produced in the 1930s of which the first two were entirely dedicated to promoting Ellington. The article includes a 20 pages facsimile of the 1931 advertising manual for Ellington. It was republished in 1933 together with additionally 26 pages.
Those pages will apparently be published in the next issue of Blue Light together with an article by Carl Woideck, who gave a presentation on the advertising manuals at the 2016 Ellington Study Group Conference in New York.
The summer issue of Blue Light arrived in my mailbox in early July. It is marked by the sad passing away of DESUK chairman Geoff Smith in March last year but also provides some good Ellington reading.
The key feature is a 10 pages long article on Ellington at the piano. It is written by Jack Chambers – a regular contributor to Blue Light.
He guides us through Ellington’s stylistic development as a pianist from someone being firmly anchored in the stride piano tradition to a man open to venture into post bop styles.
Chambers singles out the two LP albums – The Duke Plays Ellington (aka Piano Reflections) on Capitol and Money Jungle on United Artists – as highlights in Ellington’s pianist career. His reason: they are major advances in his way of dealing with the piano.
However, his choice for the ONE piano performance is the spontaneously played Lotus Blossom at the end of one of the recording sessions for the ”…And His Mother Called Him Bill” album.
Chambers also considers that the recital at the Whitney Museum in New York in 1972 – eternalized in the ”Live at the Whitney” CD album – ”might be the most comprehensive view of Ellington as a piano player”.
The original article was apparently written some years ago and even if it has been revised and updated there are a couple of mistakes.
On page 7 Chambers writes about the Paramount recording of Jig Walk which for almost 2o years is considered as a non-Ellington recording. He also says (page 11 and 15) that the recital at the MOMA in 1962 is unissued but Maison de Duke made it available on CD almost 10 years ago.
In addition to Chamber’s article, Blue Light provides us with reviews of recently issued Ellington CDs and concerts with Ellington music.
The first issue for 2017 has started to arrive in the mailboxes of DESUK members.
The postman delivered it to my box a couple of days after I learned about the passing-away of DESUK’s Chairman, Geoff Smith and it is moving to read his ”From The Chairman” editorial. As always, he talks about the next thing to do to serve DESUK members and the world-wide Ellington community. Geoff was a man full of energy and kindness and he will be deeply missed by our community! The website sends its condolences to his family.
Otherwise, the key feature in the new issue is an eight pages long article by DESUK member Stuart Emerson about ”Such Sweet Thunder”. It is fascinating to follow his steps to solve some of the mysteries linked to the suite and doing so widen our perspective on the work.
Also the Blue Light editor, Ian Bradley, tries to solve a mystery. In his article he tells us about ”The Jaywalker” play – its background and the music. Another good reading!
In the ”News” part, we are told about the venture of Birmingham Conservatoire to form a new Ellington orchestra. From September 2017, it will play every two weeks at the Conservatoire’s jazz club.
The first issue of DESUK’s Blue Light in 2015 is now available to DESS members in the Ellington Archive. It is added to the issues of Blue Light 2011-2014 already there and more 2015 issues will be added during the year.
As always when it comes to Blue Light, there is a lot of good reading.
The main feature of the issue is Jack Chambers’ very solid and detailed 10 pages article on Ellington’s Stockpile recordings. It includes a discography of the recordings published so far on CD.
In addition, DESS and DESUK member David Palmquist shares one of his many findings in his research on Duke’s where and when. This time is is the Ellington Orchestra’s appearance at the first annual Fiestaval in Emporia, Kansas on May 9, 1940.
In another article, Blue Light editor Ian Bradley reports on a tape that surfaced on eBay of the first set of Ellington’s appearance at the Chaote School in Willingford, Connecticut on January 23, 1968.
In addition to these three articles, there are all the usual regular features like the record reviews and reports on DESUK work and activities.