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Ellington at Basin Street East 1964

Basin Street East was for some years in the 1960s one of the famous jazz clubs in New York. It was located in midtown Manhattan in the Shelton Towers Hotel at 525 Lexington Avenue.

It was quite a singers place. Peggy Lee, Billy Eckstine and Barbra Streisand appeared and recorded there.

Ellington’s first gig at Basin Street East was from 4 to 20 December 1961. It was his first night club residency in 5 years (TDWAW – http://tdwaw.ca).

After this he appeared regularly at the club until the mid-1960s.

In 1964, Ellington had an engagement there from 9 to 18 December (possibly longer) and on 14 January WNEW broadcasted from there with William B Williams as host.

Williams was with WNEW for more than four decades and was in the 50’s one of the DJs at the station in the 50’s who “helped define the “Middle of the Road” (MOR) musical character of WNEW.

During Ellington’s visit to England later in the year, the program was rebroadcasted by BBC in the famous Jazz Club program. By that time, Humphrey Lyttleton was the presenter.

Here is his introduction.

Even if the broadcast from Basin Street East is strictly not a goodie since it is available on CD (Music & Arts 908), we offer it in the Goodies Room to DESS members to enjoy during the last month of the summer. It is digitised from a 50 years old tape in the Benny Åslund (aka Benny Aaslund) so the sound is not hifi but quite acceptable. The concluding East St Louis Toodle-oo

As usual, we appreciate comments and corrections.

Author: Ulf Lundin

Duke Ellington at UWIS July 1972

In 1971, University of Wisconsin (UWIS) awarded Duke Ellington an Honorary Doctorate in Music

This started a process that brought him and his orchestra to Madison, WI and the university for a full week-long festival in July 1972. The festival started exactly 50 years ago today and the Govenor of Wisconsin had declared it Duke Ellington Week in the whole state.

In a panel interview in April this year, James Latimer, Professor of Jazz in the Music Department at the time and the man who conceived and organized the week, told what happened after Ellington had received his Honorary Doctorate in Music.

Stanley Dance called the week-long festival (July 18-23) “the most rewarding festival we have ever attended”.

The program had two parts. One was a series of clinic‐workshops and master classes for students and teachers with Ellington and leading members of the Ellington orchestra and the students could earn credits by participating. And the other was Ellington concerts with a large attendance almost every night.

Duke Ellington 1972 Festival Program

There were four afternoon clinic-workshops with members of the Ellington band – one for brass, one for reeds and one for rhythm. Mercer Ellington, Johnny Coles and Vince Prudente were among the professors in the brass clinics, Paul Gonsalves, Harry Carney, Russell Procope and Harold Ashby handled the reed clinics and Rufus Jones and Joe Benjamin the rhythm ones.

In their articles about the Festival (see below), both Patricia Willard and Stanley Dance gave full and lively accounts of what went on in the clinics. Very worthwhile accounts to read!

The “Maestro” himself offered two masterclasses. The second of them were filmed and later broadcasted. The participants in the Ellington Meeting 2022 had the opportunity to watch most of the video and see a very relaxed Ellington, who obviously enjoyed himself very much under a disguise of some reluctancy. It is available for viewing at https://ellington.se/ellington-meetings/ellington-2022/presentations/ellington-at-uwis-july-1972/.

The concert program was as full as the educational workshops program. In Stanley Dance’s words: “The programmes presented perhaps the broadest spectrum of Ellington’s music ever performed within the space of five days.”

On the first night, there was an Ellington Favorites concert with great hits of Ellington’s career. The next night was a Family Concert with “music for people of all ages from eight to eighty”.

The third night offered a Sacred Concert performed by the Ellington orchestra, an Ellington Festival Chorus with more than 100 singers and Tony Watkins together with  invited soloist.

The concert the following night – The Duke at Milwaukee – was meant to “reflect the classic Elliington, different periods of time, all, shaped by the leader’s love for dramatic contrast”.

The last concert was Night of Suites. It had Ellington’s last performance of The Goutelas Suite and premièred the newly written The UWIS Suite. Between them, Ellington and the orchestra played, among others, music from The Queen’s Suite and The Afro-Eurasian Eclipse.

Here is the UWIS Suite with Ellington’s introduction.

A 90 minutes excerpt of the concert is available for DESS members in the Goodies Room.

The music file does not include the final part of the concert with Perdido, The Kiss, the Medley, Hello Dolly, One More Time for the People and Things Ain’t What They Used To Be.

The NDESOR entry for the concert is DE7237 (a-x)  and the same information can be found at ellington.com entry 21 July 1972.

Patricia Willard was very present and involved in Ellington’s visit to UWIS. Afterwards, she wrote an article for Downbeat, which was published in July issue. It is rich account of what went on during the week with many observations.

UWIS article in Down Beat Patricia Willard

Stanley Dance was also in attendence in Wisconsin as Festival Consultant and he summarised the Festival in an article to the English Jazz Journal. Also this article is full of perspectives and details.

UWIS article in Jazz Journal Stanley Dance

This article with be updated as more information is found.

Ellington News-Nyheter 2022-2

Ellington Meeting 2022

The website for the meeting –  https://ellington.se/ellington-meetings/ellington-2022 – has been updated. All the 12 presentations at the meeting are available there for viewing and DESS members can also download them in the Goodies Room https://ellington.se/manadsgodis-2/ellington-2022-presentations-for-download/.

An updated version of the program is also available at the website as well as reports from the four days

New issue of Blue Light

A new issue of Blue Light arrived in the beginning of the summer. It is another expanded edition with 46 pages of interesting reading

Roger Boyes continues his series on Ellington in the Forties. In the new article, he covers the whereabouts of Ellington and his orchestra from the end of 1943 to mid-1944.

Within this framework, Boyes covers the second Carnegie Hall concert and the touring that followed. In that context, he tells about Ellington’s refusal to play a whites-only show for military personnel at the Great Lakes Naval Training Base north of Chicago and changes in the band, including the arrival of singer Wini Johnson.

The final part of the article covers Ellington’s return to the Hurricane, the gradual recommencement of the recording industry and further changes in the Ellington orchestra.

Another ambitious article in the new issue is one written by Gareth Evans himself and is about vocal contributions by Ellington himself on different recordings over the years. It is inspired by his article on Moon Maiden in the previous Blue Light.

Brian Priestley is another contributor to the Spring 2022 issue. In his article, he uses his tremendous knowledge of Charlie Mingus “to trace the ins and outs” of “his love for Ellington’s music”. Fred Glueckstein’s contribution to Blue Light this time is the first part of an article about Queenie Pie.

These four articles are supplemented by concert and book reviews, obituaries and announcements to keep the readers updated on what is going on in the Ellington world.

Uptown Lockdown

There have been some changes in the series. Since a couple of months ago, Brian Priestley is responsible for it together with Antony Pepper. The first edition of the reshaped series went up on YouTube on May 29 and features Priestley’s “Ellington-oriented conversation with renowned author Alyn Shipton”.

The second one is with a 90-minute conversation with bassist Dave Green, who enthusiastically talks  about Duke Ellington, Jimmie Blanton and playing with Ben Webster.

Go to Uptown Lockdown on Youtube to watch and listen to them.

MDD 14 – Playing Others’ Music

La Maison du Duke’s annual CD is now available. It is number 14 in the series and it is called Duke Ellington – Playing Others’ Music.

“Others” refers to Billy Strayhorn, some  members of the Ellington orchestra and composers of the Great American Songbook. T

The major portion of the CD is from Ellington’s appearance at Jantzen Beach Ballroom in Portland, Oregon on 11 June 1955.

It was the last stop  in a long tour that started in in Clemson S.C. (next to Atlanta) on 26 March. From there, Ellington went to Florida with the band and then up the Atlantic coast to Washington D.C.

The cover photo on the CD is actually the famous photo taken in April 1955 in front of Astor Motel in Jacksonville, Florida.

Then, after some zick-zagging, they toured the mid-West in mid-May and continued with engagements and recording sessions on the West Coast and British Columbia in June.

It was Ellington’s second engagement at the Jantzen Beach Ballroom. The previous one was on 13 November, 1954

Both dances were recorded in some way. NDESOR lists 35 songs for the 1954 dance and 45 songs for the one in 1955. Together, they give a good image of Ellington’s dance repertoire in the mid-50’s.

It is very welcome that MDD now gives us a tidbit of it and it is just to hope that MDD or someone else will provide more of this material.

The last three tracks on the CD are from Ellington’s dance date at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield CA on 4 March, 1958. They are already available on Volume 2 of the Private Collection ( LMR CD 83001) together with other music from the dance.

Ellington at Berlin Jazz Festival

Another recent CD with Ellington was issued in June by the French record label The Lost Recordings. It has music from two Ellington appearances at the Berlin Jazz Festival, one on 8 November, 1969 and one on 2 November, 1973.

The two concerts were simultaneously issued on LP and as a hi-res download. Regardless which medium one chooses, one gets excellent sound. This is one of the hallmarks of the label. One wonders though why the record company had to give us two incomplete concerts and not one complete. There must exist complete recordings of both of thre concerts.

Ellington was featured on the poster for the 1969 festival. An introductory remark in program said “The Berlin Jazz Festival 1969 takes place under the motto: Duke Ellington – 70 (source: TDWAW).

The CD (and the other versions) has six songs from the concert – La Plus Belle Africaine, El Gato, I Can’t Get Started, Caravan and Satin Doll. However, this is a small part of the full concert and the full list of what was played in the concert is available at ellingtonia.com (http://ellingtonia.com/discography/1961-1970/). Go to 8 November, 1969.

I Can’t Get Started features Benny Bailey. He joined the Ellington band for some days during the 1969 tour starting with the concerts in Rotterdam on 7 November. Caravan and Satin Doll are from the medley.

In the 1973 festival, Ellington appeared with a small group including Money Johnson, Russell Procope, Paul Gonsalves, Harold Ashby, Harry Carney, Joe Benjamin and Quentin “Rocky” White but it is very much Ellington – the pianist, who is at the center.

The CD starts with Ellington playing what is listed as Piano Improvisation No. 1 but it is basically a version of Meditation. It is followed by Take the “A” Train with an extended introduction by Ellington.

Next on the CD is Pitter Panther Patter with Benjamin and White joining Ellington. The CD ends with the famous tap dancer Baby Laurence demonstrating his skills.

Tone Parallel issue 3

In April, Ian Bradley published the third issues of his ambitious newsletter Tone Parallel and a fourth issue will be published in September. Go to https://toneparallel.substack.com/ to register and get access to them.

The April one is about a symphony that the city of Jacksonville on the Atlantic coast of Florida commissioned Duke Ellington to write to celebrate the 150th anniversary of its founding. It got the name Celebration and was premiered by Jacksonville Symphony on 16 May 1972 with Ellington present.

Stanley Dance was also there and he wrote an article about the event for the English Jazz Journal. Ian Bradley is kind to quote extensively from it.

Ellington assigned the orchestration of the symphony to the orchestra leader, composer and arranger Ron Collier, who worked from sketches by Ellington. According to Bradley, Collier also went to Jacksonville just before the première to finish the orchestration there.

An essential part of Bradley’s article is what “retired Senior Managing Attorney at one of the world’s largest financial institutions”, Deborah Hollis Kaye told him in an interview earlier this year. She is the daughter of the late world-famous plastic surgeon Dr. Bernard L. Kaye, who lived in Jacksonville with his family. He was also a member of the Jacksonville Symphony.

Kaye was chosen by the Symphony to have a solo part in Celebration and Ms. Kaye told Bradley a lot about this and her work in late life to track down the recording of the première of the symphony with Kaye´s solo(s). A fascinating story!

As usual, Bradley brings a lot of his own reflections based on what he had learnt into the article, which makes it even more interesting and worthwhile to read.

The Jacksonville Symphony had intended to play Celebration in March 2020 but had to cancel the performance due to COVID restrictions. However, it made a short promotional video about this and the symphony, which is available on YouTube.




Jan Bruér – Ellingtonmusik framförd av svenska grupper

Jan Bruér kåseri på DESS’ årsmöte den 4 april om Ellingtonmusik framförd av svenska grupper. Det spelades in av Göran Axelssons och han lyckades fånga hela föredraget utom de första 30 sekunderna.

Musiken som Jan spelade och pratade om var:

Bobo Stenson: Reflections in D (1983)

Gals and Pals: Det är vårt öde att doa (Satin Doll) (1964)

Nisse Lind: Jubilee Stomp (1937)

Alice Babs: Diga Diga Do (1940)

Svenska Hotkvintetten: Mood Indigo (1940)

Thore Ehrling: Ring Dem Bells (1945)

Sonya Hedenbratt med Arne Domnerus’ orkester: Perdido (1951)

Lars Gullin: I Got It Bad (1951)

Putte Wickman: Koko (1953)

Lennart Åberg: Rockin’ In Rhythm (1996)

Arne Domnérus: Chelsea Bridge

A Duke Ellington Video Montage (4)

We can now offer a new video montage to the DESS members. You’ll find it in the Goodies section. When clicking on the arrow below, you will find the introduction to a film short by Duke Ellington and his Orchestra, “Salute To Duke Ellington” from March 6, 1950.


In the Goodies section this will continue into a piece called The History Of Jazz In 3 Minutes, and this is the first item in the montage. If you look carefully, you might recogonize a number of musicians which did not stay for a long period with Ellington, such as Nelson Williams, Al Killian, Dave Burns on trumpets, and Alva McCain and Charlie Rouse on tenors.

The second part is a video clip from a CBS telecast, “Music 55” from July 26, 1955. Here we can see and hear Stan Kenton and Ellington chat and play Artistry In Rhythm and Take The A Train together on two pianos, whereafter Duke performs his own Monologue. The famous violin player Yehudi Menuhin then plays Come Sunday together with Ellington.

In the third part we will hear Ed Murrow interviewing Duke Ellington in Duke’s apartment in NYC. This is from a telecast called “Person To Person” that took place on March 15, 1957.

The last video clip is from a concert in Bergen, Norway on Nov. 3, 1969. The band plays Take The A Train, Cottontail, Up Jump and La Plus Belle Africaine. The soloists are of course announced by Duke himself.



Interview by Leonard Feather

Among other things, Leonard Feather was a productive writer and jazz critic. He was a frequent contributor to jazz magazines in many countries but he also wrote books and particularly a long series of jazz encyclopedia.

It started in 1955 when Feather published his ambitious The Encyclopedia of Jazz. It was  followed by The Encyclopedia Yearbook Of Jazz the year after and The Encyclopedia Yearbook of Jazz in The Sixties in 1966  .

The first edition of The Encyclopedia of Jazz was published by Horizon Press

but it is not easy to find one in good shape. Fortunately, the publisher Da Capo published a reprint of it in 1984 and it is more widely available.

The book starts with “appreciations” by Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman and John Hammond. Ellington’s is the most interesting since it is more than just an appreciation.

It exists in two version, one printed in the book and one in a tape recording, which was transcribed for the book.

Steven Lasker has very kindly given the website a copy of the recording to share with the DESS members. It is the third goodie this month and is available in the Goodies Room.

Those, who don’t have the book, can follow the link below to download and read Ellington’s appreciation.

DE appreciation


New Bulletin Issue

DESS members, who has opted for the pdf version of the Bulletin, got the new issue on Monday. The printed version was posted the same day and at least the DESS members in Sweden should have started to get it today.

The cover story is about Booty Wood – “Duke’s pungent trombonist”.

The four-page article about him is written by DESS member Thomas Erikson – a specialist and great fan of Ellington’s trombonists.

He gives the readers of the Bulletin a comprehensive story of Wood’s musical career.

Lionel Hampton’s 1940’s big band, the military during the Second World War years and Erskine Hawkins’ late 1940’s band was Wood’s musical upbringing grounds according to the article and apparently he liked in particular his period with Hawkins.

During that, Wood participated in Hawkins’ recordings for Victor and one of them resulted in the album Erskine Hawkins Plays W.C. Handy For Dancing.

Wood was really in and out of the Ellington orchestra over the years and one wonders why. Was it family?

Anyhow, his first period was really only a year – from September 1959 to end of 1960 – but he left many good marks from it in Columbia recordings like Blues In The Orbit, Piano In The Background and the Nutcracker Suites, in small groups recordings under Hodges and Harry Carney’s namn and his own album Hang In and in recordings from concerts and dances.

After this period, Wood was away from the Ellington Orchestra for more than 10 years except for a short return in 1963 to play in the orchestra formed for My People. He was back in late 1969 to replace Lawrence Brown and stayed to late 1972. But the impression from article is that he was only brought back to fill a chair and handle the trombone part in traditional concert numbers.  It would have been interesting to get Thomas’ view on this.

What has been written above is only some snapshots of what Thomas has to say about Booty Wood. There is much more to read in his well researched article.

Another long article in the new issue is a transcript of a presentation at the Ellington ’94 in Stockholm by Austin H. Lawrence on Bubber Miley. It is a good introduction to Miley’s life and career and is recommended as such. The article is prefaced by short introduction of Lawrence by Bo Haufman.

Among Bo Haufman’s contributions to the new Bulletin is also an interesting article about Marie Ellington.

It has also a reprint of an article about Mercer Ellington in the program for his European Tour in 1977, an excerpt from exam paper by a Swedish music student about Jimmy Blanton way of playing the bass and some thoughts by DESS member Jan-Olov Isaksson on LP and CD tributes to Duke Ellington.

There is also a follow up of the cover story in the previous Bulletin about Lil Greenwood. DESS members Bjarne Busk and Brian Koller wrote about it on the Duke-LYM site and their comments are reprinted in the new Bulletin.

Bjarne Busk has also broadcasted an hour-long program about Lil Greenwood on the Radio Jazz (http://www.radiojazz.dk/. It has a long interview with Sven-Erik Baun Christensen, who wrote the article about Greenwood, and music featuring her. The broadcast can be found in the podcast section of Radio Jazz but it is also available at the DESS website here.


A Duke Ellington Video Montage (3)

There is a new video montage for DESS members available in the Goodies Room. As usual it is a mixture of old and new. But any visitor to the website will be able to watch a performance of Take The A Train with two drummers, Elvin Jones and Skeets Marsh, by clicking the arrow in the picture below. Both Jones and Marsh were subbing for Louie Bellson, who should have been on this tour, but couldn’t beause of other engagements.

From a concert in Milano, Jan. 30. 1966

We start the motage in the Goodies Room with a sequence from the 1934 movie Murder At The Vanities, where almost all members of the band can be seen individually. Quite recently we published some excerpts from the making of this film donated to us by Steven Lasker, as a Christmas gift. The musical performance is built around Franz List’s Hungarien Rhapsody and main theme is called Ebony Rhapsody.

The next is from an RAI telecast in Milano’s Teatro Lirico from January 30, 1966. The band plays an enjoyable version of Ad Lib On Nippon, a suite in four parts. Jimmy Hamilton and John Lamb are featured. The four parts of the suite are named Fugi, Igoo, Nagoya and Tokyo respectively.

From the same RAI telecast we present Duke, Ella Fitzgerald and Italian actor Vittorio Gassman. The latter performs Hamlet’s monologue (mainly in Italian) to the accompaniment of Duke, whereafter Ella and Duke together cooperates in I’m Just A Lucky So-And-So.

In 1963 and 1964 Ellington and the band recorded two telecasts for Granada in England. The first part from 1963 has the following contents: *Theme*C-Jam Blues*The Eighth Veil*Rockin’ In Rhythm*Angu*. 1963 and 1964 were truly great years for the Ellington organization.

As a closing performance we will hear Alice Babs and Johnny Hodges from the 1969 telecast of Sacred Music in Stockholm 1969. Heaven, was one of the main numbers of that telecast.




A Duke Ellington video montage

There are numerous video and film clips with Duke Ellington available on internet. We have grouped some of the more unusual together in a video montage spanning from 1930 to 1970. Below is an example from Ed Sullivan Show from 1961 with Duke and Satchmo.

The following can be seen and listened to in the Goodies Room:

1   Extracts from the movie Check And Double Check from 1930, an Amos & Andy adventure. Various tunes are played, the only complete one being  Old Man Blues  other numbers are When I’m Blue, East St Louis Toodle-Oo and Three Little words. On the latter tune the singing is by The Rhythm Boys although the impression from the movie is that the trumpet players are doing this job. One interesting detail is that Juan Tizol’s face has been blackened,

2. 3. & 4. The following sequences are from Ed Sullivan Shows from 1959, 1965 and 1969.

5.  Titled Special Medley, this is a 1966 version of Satin Doll

6.  Duke Ellington with Edie Adams  in 1962, Edie is accompanied by an orchestra led by Peter Matz, reinforced by Ellington, Hodges and Carney. She sings an Ellington Medley and Satin Doll

7.  A rare footage from an Ellington’s concert in Palermo in July 1970, with a solo by Canadian fluegel horn player  Fred Stone

We hope that you will enjoy the performances!



Seasonal Greetings 2021

The website team – Anders and Ulf – wish all DESS members and other friends of Duke Ellington Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year.

We are looking forward to seeing you in 2022 on the website, in the DESScafé and at the Ellington Meeting 2022. Don’t forget to pay your membership fee to DESS to get the DESS Bulletin and keep the website with its many articles, resources and goodies going.


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