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Den 29 april 1899 föddes Edward Kennedy Ellington i Washington DC. Föräldrarna tillhörde stadens svarta medelklass och Duke, som han tidigt kom att kallas, fick en solitt borgerlig uppfostran. Duke brukade inte fira sina födelsedagar med något överdåd, men då han skulle fylla 70 år, hade han uppnått en sådan status i sitt hemland och världen i övrigt att inte ens USAs president kunde blunda för faktum.
President Nixon bjöd därför in till en hejdundrande fest i Vita Huset, med deltagande av många kända jazzprofiler. Denna fest finns bl. a. dokumenterad dels i form av en film, med kommentarer av Willis Conover och en bok betitlad ”Ellington At The White House 1969” författad av Edward Allan Faine. Filmen, som nu görs tillgänglig för DESS-medlemmarna i Godisrummet, skickades ursprungligen ut till ett antal olika USA-ambassader i världen i avsikt att användas i kulturellt propagandasyfte.
Den lades senare upp på YouTube av USAs kulturdepartement.
When Duke Ellington and his orchestra embarked on his 1969 tour of Europe, the Second Sacred Concert was set to be performed as well. The first possibility to do so occurred in Stockholm on 6 November 1969, where Alice Babs would be a vital ingredient who was also available to to take part. This memorable occasion took part in one of the churches in central Stockholm, the Gustav Vasa church. Of the band’s ordinary members at the time, Herbie Jones and Buster Cooper stayed behind in the USA, and for this concert they were replaced by the Swedish musicians Rolf Ericson and Gunnar Medberg. British trumpeter Ambrose Jackson was also added to the trumpet section. There were also dancers taking part and last but not the least the show was supported by the Swedish Radio Choir, under the direction Eric Ericson. The scene was thus set for a memorable performance. DESS members will be able to look at or download the first part of the concert in the Goodies Room, as it was televised by Swedish Radio. Above you can enjoy Almighty Good, a duet with Alice Babs and Russell Procope. (mer…)
On March 3, 1965, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) aired an one-hour long television program with Duke Ellington. It included sections of an interview made on September 2, 1994 and of performances of the Ellington orchestra and dancer Bunny Briggs recorded on September 3 and 4. The interview was made by Byng Whittaker – a famous CBC announcer and interviewer – and he got Ellington to relax and open up to his questions.
One of his questions were: ”Where Do You Get Your Ideas From?” and here is what Duke answered.
The tune on which Ellington improvises is ”Blue Tune” from 1932.
Whittaker asked of course many more questions. Duke’s answers to them and the music he played to illustrate them further can be heard on a tape, which will be available on the website in a couple of days. It will be accompanied by comments by the Ellington scholar Louis Tavecchio, who presented the program and the recordings to the 21st Study Group Conference in Woking, England in 2012.