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The Ellington Study Group Conferences (1)

For almost 35 years, The Duke Ellington Study Group Conferences have brought together Ellington scholars and aficionados to share their thoughts and knowledge about his work, life and music, to learn more about it and to enjoy live performances of all kinds. The 24th one took place in New York last year.

Inspired by Göran Wallén, who has participated in many of the conferences and organized two of them, in 1994 and 2004, the DESS website will publish a series of articles about the conferences. Göran Wallén will be the editor of the series and share memories, photos and documents. He hopes that others will contribute as well.

This first article is about how The Duke Ellington Study Group conferences came about.

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Alice Babs at the Ellington Conferences

”And last let us not overlook the splendid music and inspired invention of the wonderful Alice Babs. Her personality comes across as a sunburst. When all the hoy-hah has finally faded into partial obscurity, her gorgeous happy presence and incomparable vocal virtuosity will remain so clear, so unforgettably vivid. Alice Babs is indeed an Ellingtonian beyond compare.”

These were the words with which the Ellington expert and music researcher Ken Rattenbury concluded his review of the Ellington 1994 conference in the first issue of the DESS Bulletin.

In reports from other Duke Ellington Study Group conferences Babs took part in, one often finds similar feelings. She was a much appreciated contributor to and participant in the conferences.

But perhaps, for Babs the conferences went beyond having fun and making new friends. They were also an opportunity for her to keep the Ellington music and legacy alive. She put in much work to prepare her presentations as conveyed by her papers at the Swedish Jazz Archive.

This article aims to give some snapshots of her participation in Ellington conferences and share some photos from them. (mer…)

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