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Duke Ellington in Uppsala 1971

Storyville has released a new CD in its Ellington stockpile recording series. This time it is the second Ellington concert in Uppsala on Nov. 9, 1971. Bjarne Busk has produced the CD and also written the liner notes. Jørgen Vad is responsible for the excellent audio restauration.

The CD is the first complete release of another interesting concert from the period when the Ellington orchestra was in some disarray but still performed well and sometimes exceptionally well.

The liner notes are very thorough and gives a lot of information about the music played. Busk also writes about what he perceives as a special relationship between Ellington and Sweden. ”Duke Ellington and Sweden is a true mutual love-affair” he says.

The concert on the CD was produced by George Wein as part of a package tour called Newport Jazz Festival. Besides Ellington and his orchestra, the ”package” featured Miles Davis with a new septet, Kid Thomas Preservation Hall Band, Ornette Coleman Quartet and a group called Giants of Jazz, which included among others Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Stitt, Thelonius Monk and Art Blakey.

Ellington and Thomas shared the stage in two concerts on Nov. 9 – one at 19:30 and the other at 22:00. Thomas and his band took care of the first part of each of the concerts and Ellington the second.

The Ellington concert was filmed by Swedish Television (as were other parts of the Festival) and one hour of it was telecasted in the beginning of January 1972. The soundtrack of the telecast has circulated among Ellington collectors for a long time. Segments of the concert have also appeared in the Danish Radio Ellington Broadcasts (n°47 and 57) and I Got It Bad in the Medley was included in the Azure CA 10 cassette.

The tape used for the CD emanates from the Mercer Ellington donation. But who recorded it? Was it done by the Wein organisation at the request of Ellington? It is doubtful since it would have called for a double recording set up during the concert. Another – and more likely possibility – is that someone gave Ellington or Mercer Ellington a copy of the tape (in stereo) that technicians from Swedish Radio made together with the TV crew.

Anyhow it is not an important issue. What matters is that Ellington fans and aficionados now can enjoy the full Duke Ellington concert in the Uppsala University Aula (Great Hall) on Nov. 9, 1971 like we us, who were there.

According to NDESOR, Black Swan played by Ellington, Joe Benjamin and Rufus Jones ends the concert. However, it is not on the tape used for the Storyville release neither was it included in the DR 57 broadcast as claimed in the DESS Directory of Recordings by Duke and/or His Sidemen in Sweden.

The issue has to be further researched.

The concert was reviewed in the Swedish jazz magazine in Orkesterjournalen (Albrekt von Konow) and Dagens Nyheter (Bengt Persson). Their comments were generally positive. Both highlighted (as does Busk) the performance of Harlem. However, von Konow would have liked to hear more instrumental soloist and particularly Johnny Coles and Eddie Preston.

The reviews can be read here:



Thank you to Anders Asplund and Jan Bruér for help with information about the recording of the concert.





Music at Ellington ’92

There was much live music at the Ellington ’92 conference. May 28 was Ellington Nights at many clubs and restaurants in Copenhagen.

Then there was the Gala Concert on May 29 with many well-known jazz musicians like Abdullah Ibrahim, Svend  Asmussen, Jesper Thilo, Clark Terry, Buster Cooper, Arne Domnerus, Bength Hallberg, The New Jungle Orchestra and others were participating.

A second Gala Concert took place the following day with The Danish Radio Big Band as main feature. There was also a late night Ellington Ball for conference attendees only.

Unfortunately, no recordings of the musical events exists but Bjarne Busk took a lot of photos, which he has kindly made available to the website.

The reception which kicked off the conference was also a musical event. It took place at Woody’s at Bolten restaurant in the center of Copenhagen and the Danish/Swedish/American group Jan Kaspersen Septet provided the music.

One of the bands, which performed at the Ellington Nights event on May 28, was Ancher Grøn Big Band. This young Danish big band played a four-hour concert.

For the occasion it had enlisted Mercer Ellington as conductor and Willie Cook as one of the main soloist. In addition to original or updated arrangements from the Ellington repertoire, Mercer Ellington and Bengt-Arne Wallin contributed works.

There were also concerts in Copenhagen clubs like Copenhagen Jazz House (James Newton Group), Finn Ziegler’s Corner (Finn Ziegler Trio), La Fontaine (Jacob Fischer Trio) and many more.

Clark Terry and The Scandinavian All Stars performed at the Montmarte jazz club

The band was actually very busy during the conference and also played at the two Gala Concerts and the Ellington Ball.

This was also the case for The Ellington Combo with Rolf Ericson, Buster Cooper, Jesper Thilo, Kenny Drew and shifting Danish bass and drum members.


At the Ellington Nights they played at De Tre Musketerer (The Three Musketeers). Then the band went on to the Gala Concerts and the Ellington Ball.



Andrew Homzy on Ellington-Strayhorn

Andrew Homzy made another interesting presentation at the Copenhagen ’92.

This time, his focus was the collaboration and creative process between Ellington and Billy Strayhorn.

He had studied the manuscript scores in the Ellington Archives and used them to provide insights into the process.

Homzy had selected examples from 21 songs to comment upon but because of lack of time he went more deeply into only some of them.

They were, among others, Something To Live For, Barney Goin’ Easy, Take The ‘A’ Train, Rocks In My Bed, Tell Ya What I’m Gonna Do and Memphis Blues.

List of songs

With these songs, Homzy demonstrates the different modes of Ellington’s and Strayhorn’s collaboration  like Ellington sets up the arrangement and Strayhorn takes over or Ellington do the arrangement of a Strayhorn composition or Strayhorn arrange an Ellington composition etc.

The audience benefitted from slides with scores that Homzy had prepared for his presentation.

Unfortunately, we do not have access to them except the one for Rocks In My Bed which was among the handouts provided to the conference participants.

Rocks In My Bed 1

The discussion on the compositional interplay beetween The Monster (Ellington) and Sweetie Pie (Strayhorn) continued at the next Ellington Study Group conference – the one which took place in Stockholm in 1994.

Having also studied the material in the Ellington Archive, Walter van de Leur, provided another presentation on the topic. Here is the link to the presentation

He had some different views from Homzy, which he, of course, further discussed in his book Something To Live For.

Bill Hill: Portraits of The Duke

William (Bill) F. Hill, who was the chairman of the Ellington ’91 conference and participant in other Ellington Study Group conferences before that, contributed to Ellington ’92 as well.


He had systematically collected during a three year period compositions written and performed with the purpose to do hommage to Duke Ellington. They all reflected some aspects of him and the Ellington orchestra.

He reported on this work of love to the participants in Copenhagen. In his presentation. Hill plays excerpts from some of them and together will Andrew Homzy he introduced them.

Because of the recording and microphone setup in the conference hall, the balance between the spoken presentation and the music is not the best (to put it mildly) but the music parts has been edited to increase the volume on the original tapes.

Hill handed out a two-page list of what he found had to the participants at the Copenhagen conference. It included almost 70 works written and recorded by 30 different artists. Worthwhile reading!

Cph 93 Hill handout



Smått och gott / Bits and Pieces

Nästa möte

Nästa DESS-möte äger rum nästa måndag den 6 maj. Lokalen är som vanligt Franska Skolans aula.

DESS-medlemmen m.m. Håkan Skytt står för kvällens föredrag. Ämnet är ”120 år med Duke Ellington – en sammanfattning”.

Gruppen JazzMaTazz står för kvällens musik. Den har mottot ”Lite swing får man räkna med”. En presentation av gruppen finns här.

More about Towne Casino

After the article published on March 21 with a radio broadcast from Towne Casino in Cleveland, DESS member Sonja Svensson has told us more about the club. She studied for a year at Western Reserve University in 1961 and spent many nights at the club.

This link to the blog Jazzed In Cleveland tells that Duke Ellington played some 40 times in and around Cleveland.


A complete index to the blog is available here.

New issue of Blue Light

The Spring 2019 issue of Blue Light reached its subscribers a couple of weeks ago. It has been put together by an interim editorial group waiting for Patrick Olsen to take over as editor with the next issue.

The main feature is a very interesting ten-page article titled The Protean Imagination of Duke Ellington – The Early Years. It is written by a certain A.J. Bishop of whom not much is known. In addition to the article reprinted from Jazz Journal in the new Blue Light issue, only two other articles from Bishop’s pen are known. They can be found in Mark Tucker’s Duke Ellington Reader.

Monsignor John Sanders is remembered in two articles by Roger Boyes, who also reviews the Heading for Newport CD issued by Doctor Jazz.

New radio program from Bill Saxonis

Last week Bill Saxonis was featured on station WCDB and its Saturday Morning Edition of Jazz for 19th consecutive year with his Ellington birthday bash. This four hour long program with program host Bill McCann had – as always – a lot to offer. The DESS website is very happy to have been able to serve Bill with some material for the broadcast.

Two one-hour installments is available in the website’s Ellington Archive and two more will be added later this month.


Carnegie Hall 1947, 1st concert, part 4

Bildresultat för carnegie Hall

Inside Carnegie Hall

Al Hibbler sings It Don’t Mean A Thing

This is the fourth and last part from DESS with music from the Carnegie Hall concert in NYC on December 26, 1947. The last we heard in our previous posting was the Theme Medley which was played right after the Liberian Suite . This was followed by a speech by a representative of the Liberian government, which we have chosen to omit. Hence we start with Stomp, Look And Listen, a number quite frequently played between the years 1943 and 1956, thereafter to disappear from the repertoire.

Carnegie Hall 1947, 1st concert, part 3

Bildresultat för Carnegie Hall

Carnegie Hall by night

Dance No 3 (Liberian Suite)

The third part from the Carnegie Hall concert on December 26, 1947 introduces the Liberian Suite, an extended work, commemorating the establishment of the first independent African republic a century earlier. Ellington had been commissioned by the Liberian gouvernement to write this piece of music for the 100th anniversary celebrations. The suite consists of six parts: I Like The Sunrise and Dances no 1-5. It had been recorded a couple of days before for Columbia. According to available information it was recorded three times only, the performance on December 27, being the third one. (mer…)

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