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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.
Here is some more from the Ellington ’94 conference in Stockholm.
One of the afternoon presentations on the second day was by Jan Bruér. He talked about ”Duke Ellington in Sweden”.
Later in the afternoon on that day, Andrew Homzy talked about ”Duke Ellington in the Avant Garde”.
In the morning of the last day of the conference, Alice Babs and Nils Lindberg sat down together to talk about ”There Is Something About Me” – a composition which Ellington gave to Alice Babs on a cassette tape one day in New York and which she later recorded with Nils Lindberg.
After the lunch at the Stockholm Town Hall, the conference participants enjoyed, among others a presentation by the French jazz critic and record producer Alexandre Rado on his friend Cat Anderson, and to what Nils Lindberg, the Swedish jazz musician and composer, had to say about Dalecarlia and African influences in the orchestral arrangement he wrote for Duke and which was recorded as Far Away Star
The next morning, after having recovered from the gala concert at the Stockholm Concert Hall (where among others Clark Terry performed), they could listen to Klaus Stratemen talking about Ellington on film and showing some goodies from his archive.
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.)
Last year, the 24th Duke Ellington Study Group conference took place and this time in New York City. And in May this year, DESUK organized a one day mini-conference using a format similar to the Study Group ones.
The Study Group Conferences have had a tremendously important role in building an international network of Ellington scholars and aficionados and a solid knowledge base of Ellington’s work, life and music.
The network of Ellington clubs and societies has been crucial for the conferences. Without them, they would never have taken place. The first one – “The Duke Ellington Jazz Society (DEJS)” – was founded in Los Angeles, California with Bill Ross as President and Patricia Willard as Vice-President. It not only wanted to bring together Ellington fans locally but also build an international network of Ellington clubs.
Unfortunately, DEJS disappeared in the early 1960s but by that time The New York Chapter had been formed. It started in 1959 and with its large membership, it soon had a leading role among Ellington fans. It change its name to The Duke Ellington Society (TDES) at the request of Duke Ellington himself in the 1960s and later it became TDES only.
In 1993, the Duke Ellington Society of Sweden was formed.
Another key factor behind the conferences was the existence of a network of Ellington experts, who worked together to increase the knowledge about Ellington’s work and life.
Today is September 1 and as promised the DESS website is back after its summer break. As before, we will continue to do our best to provide members of DESS and others interested in Ellington with music, photos, videos, articles etc related to Il Maestro. Possibly we will do this less frequently than before but at the same time the website has now at its disposal a lot of quite unique material of interest to Ellington connoisseurs. This includes radio programs about Ellington, photos never published and the video and radio taped proceedings of the 24 Ellington Study Group Conferences.
The conference tapes in the Sjef Hoefsmit Collection, which have been made available to the website, are currently being digitized and excerpts of the result will be published on the website during the year.
It seems appropriate to start the season by doing this. Here is the Swedish pianist Berndt Egerbladh and Alice Babs improvising at the opening session of the 1994 Study Group Conference in Stockholm.
The 24 Duke Ellington Study Group conferences have been documented in photos, sound and video recordings, articles in the DEMS Bulletin, the DESS Bulletin, Blue Light and similar publication etc. Except for the articles, this material is not easily accessible for Ellington aficionados and is often buried in archives or personal collection.
The late Sjef Hoefsmit – the eminent Ellington scholar and editor of the DEMS Bulletin – took part in all Study Group conferences from 1982 to 2008 and in 1986 he started to document the proceedings of the conferences with his video camera. He was also given copies of sound recordings of some conferences. After his passing away in 2012, all the tapes has been hidden away in a box in Hoefsmit’s study and later in the basement of his daughter Babette’s basement.
The box with some 140 tapes was recently donated to the DESS website.
The website will do its outmost to convert them to digital format and make them available through it.
A project group composed of Louis Tavecchio, Joe Medjuk, David Palmquist and the editor of the website has been formed. It will oversee and guide the work. The group is an open one so anyone, who would like to be part of it and contribute to its work is welcome.
A list of the tapes is available here.