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Ellington ’18 in Birmingham
Finally, information on the presentations to be made at the conference is starting to become available.
Among them are:
Jack Chambers: Celebration, Duke Ellington’s Lost Symphony
Matthias Heyman: Plucked Again: Ellington’s bassists and the mediation of technology
Vic Hobson: Ellington: Collective Improvisation and Arranging
Barry Long Ellington and Coltrane: Tone Parallels
Brian Priestley: Monk and Duke
Alyn Shipton: Ellington and synaesthesia: to what extent did Duke Ellington hear sounds as colours?
New Storyville Ellington CDs
Volume 25 in Storyville’s DETS series – was issued a couple of weeks ago and can be bought at the musicroom website (https://www.musicroom.com/product-detail/product1140872/variant1140872/duke-ellington-the-treasury-shows-vol-25/).
It is the last in this important and invaluable series. The CD set has the final recorded broadcast from Ellington’s stay at Blue Note in Chicago in June 1953 issued on the last volume of the original DETS LP series plus a 1943 Pastel Period broadcast from the Hurricane Club in New York and two other Hurricane broadcasts (April 22nd and May 5th 1944)
By issuing the original Treasury Show series and adding to it a large number of broadcasts from the Hurricane and other New York clubs, Storyville has served the Ellington community in an incredible way and must be lauded by all friends of Ellington for its effort.
In mid-August, Storyville will issue another Ellington CD. It will have the concert the Coventry Cathedral in England on February 21st 1966. A restored version of the telecast is rumoured to also exist and participants at the Ellington conference in Birmingham later this month might have a showing of it.
Remembering Brooks Kerr
The almost blind jazz pianist and performer of Duke Ellington’s music, Brooks Kerr, passed away last Saturday.He was reputed to have known every Duke Ellington composition by the time he was 8 years old.
An article about him in New York Times in 1974 was headlined “He Knows More Ellington Than Duke Himself” and Duke himself said to students at the University of Wisconsin back in July 1972 “If you have any questions about my music, just, ask Brooks Kerr.”
In the late 1970s, Kerr performed in jazz clubs with a trio often including Sonny Greer and Russell Procope. He also did some recordings of Ellington music with Greer and/ or George Duvivier in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.
Kerr was a featured attraction at the New York 1981 and Washington 1982 Ellington conferences. Here is an example of his way of playing from West End Cafe in New York during the 1981 conference.
New pod at Ellington Reflections
This excellent Ellington blog (https://ellingtonreflections.com/) has published a new pod. It deals with Sonny Greer and is called “Portrait of Sonny Greer.” It can be listened to at the website and downloaded from iTunes (https://t.co/2yKFpLm0jF)
DESS Bulletin 2016-2
This issue is now available also for non-DESS members in the Bulletin 2013-2016 section of the website.
The main feature is long article about Ben Webster written by Steve Wallace. But there are also many other interesting article to read like the one by Fred Glueckstein about the unfinished film for which Ellington was supposed to write the music.
The first full-scale Duke Ellington Study Group Conference was organized in May (5-7) 1983 by Chapter 90 of The Duke Ellington Society Washington D.C. .
Some 90 people took part in the meeting. The program was a mixture of presentations, live music and discussions as would be the case in future Ellington conferences.
The conference has been preserved on tapes. This article makes use of six K7 tapes in the Benny Åslund Collection. He most likely got it from the one who made the recordings – was it Jack Towers? – or possibly from Jerry Valburn. The sound quality is quite good but there are of course some glitches.
Among the presenters and speakers at the two and a half-day conference was Martin Williams, Dan Morgenstern, Bruce Kennan, Patricia Willard, Willis Conover, Jerry Valburn, Eddie Lambert and Sjef Hoefsmit.
The topic of Williams’ presentation was “Ellington, The Composer” and he gave many examples to make his point(s). Apparently, the audience had sheets with the music he played but one can enjoy his talk without them.
The Chicago meeting was followed by another one in New York in the first weekend of October , 1981, It was labelled “the first ever international meeting of the Duke Ellington Study Group” because among the participants was Benny Åslund from Sweden and Charles Delaunay from France.
But the majority was of course American Ellington experts like Don Miller and Dick Buckley from Chicago, Henry Quarles from Milwaukee, Jack Towers and Terrell Allen from Washington D.C. and a lot of people from New York like Don Swenson and other members of the Duke Ellington Society of New York (TDES). In total, some twenty people attended the meeting.
On his return to Chicago, Dick Buckley told his listeners that it had been a good meeting.
Jerry Valburn was the driving force behind it. Apparently, most of it took place in his basement where he had all the necessary equipment for listening sessions.
But the participants also enjoyed each other’s company in various restaurants.
The event has been preserved on 6 K7 tapes. The sound quality is better than the ones from the Chicago meeting but of course there are glitches here and there. It is rather obvious that from time a transportable tape recorder was used.
All the tapes have been digitized and those interested in them can contact the web editor.
Contrary to later conferences, the meeting was not one of presentations but of informal listening and discussions. The short tape excerpts below give a sense of the atmosphere at the meeting. There are some more and longer ones in the Ellington Archive (section Ellington Study Group Conferences / New York 1981.)