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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.
It has just been printed and is on its way to the DESUK members in the U.K. and the rest of the world. It comes together with the DESUK version of the CD with Hotel Sherman broadcasts which members of DESS has already received. The content is the same but the cover and the liner notes are different.
The Ellington community is very fortunate to have Blue Light and the DESS Bulletin coming their way four times a year. They gives us more than 150 pages every year to learn more about Ellington and to provide a platform for Ellington scholars. Bo Haufman and Ian Bradley (as well as their predecessors) really deserves our gratitude for their dedication to Ellington and for their fantastic job.
The Winter issue of Blue Light has a lot to read. It has two major five-page articles, six pages of reviews of new Ellington-related CDs and DVDs and more.
Perhaps, the highlight is an article by the Italian musicologist and Ellington scholar Luca Bragalini titled ”Harlem: Sounds From The Big Court”. It is an adaptation from the presentation he gave at 23rd Ellington Study Group Conference at Reed College in Portland, Oregon in November 2015.
Having as his starting point, the commission Ellington got in 1950 from the NBC Symphony Orchestra to write the Harlem part of what was meant to be a six-part Portrait Of New York, Bragalini guides us through Ellington’s many efforts in songs and longer works to paint his picture and vision of Harlem but also gives the wider framework in which this happens. As a true scholar, Bragalina brings us new perspectives for reflection.
Last week, the members of DESUK were blessed with a new issue of Blue Light. It is another issue full of interesting articles, information and comments.
The dominant theme is Ellington in Paris and readers get a full plate of articles on this topic.
Blue Light’s editor, Ian Bradley, summarizes, Ellington’s many visits to Paris and provides the lead-in to the three main articles on the Paris theme.
”68 hours without sleep” is a fascinating diary-style article by German-born jazz critic (and much more) Ernest Borneman written 68 years ago and most likely never published before. It gives a strong sense of the enthusiasm, chaos and festivities which surrounded Ellington’s visit to Paris in 1948. A must read for anyone, who is interested in the general environment in which Ellington lived and played his music. (mer…)
Blue Light is the 24 pages quarterly magazine of The Duke Ellington Society UK (DESUK) and is distributed to members of The Duke Ellington Society UK who pay an annual subscription of £25.00.
It offers an eclectic mix of news, reviews and articles written by members of DESUK and international Ellington and Strayhorn experts.
The magazine also promotes the release of recordings by Duke Ellington and his orchestra, radio and television broadcasts on Ellington-related themes as well as supporting the vibrant scene of newly recorded and live performances today of the music of Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington.
Over the years, Blue Light has published major retrospectives on and many accounts of on Ellington’s tours of the UK written by Ellington scholars or by who saw the Orchestra perform live or who, indeed, worked with Ellington.
Blue Light aims to reflect a truly international perspective. In recent years, in particular, we have developed close ties with Ellington aficionados the world over.
With regard to future developments, we have one or two exciting projects in hand for the next twelve months, taking to heart the motto of Billy Strayhorn: Ever onward and upward. (mer…)
DESS har ett nära och bra samarbete med vår systerorganisation i Storbritannien, DESUK. Som en följd av detta kommer DESS-medlemmar från och med nu att ha tillgång till äldre årgångar av DESUKs kvartalstidskrift Blue Light i pdf-format. Det handlar om nummer, som är äldre än två år, och med början från nummer 2011:1. De kommer att finnas tillgängliga i Ellington-arkivet.
DESS has a close and good cooperation with our fellow organization in the U.K. DESUK. Thanks to this, from now on members of DESS will have access to older issues of DESUK’s quarterly magazine Blue Light in pdf format. It will be issues older than two years and the arrangement starts with issues 2011:1. They can be accessed in the Ellington Archive.