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Smått och gott /Bits And Pieces Dec 2020
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.