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Conover interviews Ellington 1973

Willis Conover and Duke Ellington were good friends and they got to know each other already when Conover arrived in Washington D.C. in the late 1940’s.

Source: Digital Library, North Texas University, Willis Conover Collection

Over the years, Conover interviewed Ellington many times and when one listens to the interviews, it is obvious that the two men respected each other highly.  This comes through very clearly in this last interview that Conover made with Ellington in April 1973.

Source: Digital Library, North Texas University, Willis Conover Collection


Föredrag av Gert Palmcrantz

Göran Axelsson spelade in Gert Palmcrantz’ föredrag på DESS-mötet den 27 april så att DESS-medlemmar som inte var närvarande nu kan lyssna på det i Ellington-arkivet.

Göran har gett webbplatsen följande kommentar till inspelningen.

”I DESS Bulletin 2017-02 såg jag inbjudan till medlemsmötet 28 april. Jag förstod att Gerts presentation skulle bli både något unikt för DESS och förmodligen även något alldeles enastående.

Eftersom Sällskapet har många medlemmar som inte har möjlighet att komma på medlemsmöten fick jag idén att försöka spela in Gerts presentation så att den kunde bli tillgänglig för alla DESS medlemmar.

Jag har ingen speciell inspelningsutrustning, men den nyinköpta smartphonen har ganska bra inbyggd mikrofon och ett stort minne – jag ville prova.

Gert Palmcrantz gav sitt medgivande till att inspelningen görs tillgänglig för alla DESS medlemmar via DESS’ webbplats i Ellington-arkivet.

Ett stort tack till Gert för detta!

Efter presentationen fick jag tillgång till Gerts manus med en spellista som innehåller värdefulla detaljer om musiken. Det framgår att Gert spelade 16 unika inspelningar av Duke Ellingtons musik. Ellingtons orkester spelade det första stycket.

Gert talade utan mikrofon och spelade upp musiken med två stora högtalare. Det blev ett ”nybörjarfel” av mig att talet har en lägre volym än musiken, men jag tror att du ska kunna ta del av vad han sade. Vrid gärna upp volymen!

Jag ha lyssnat 2 gånger på inspelningen – och vill intyga att Gerts presentation är enastående.”


Birdland, May 3, 1951


Thelma Carpenter sings

Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me

We have one last recording from Birdland in May 1951 to offer our members in The Goodies Room, namely music from an ABC telecast titled ”The Kreisler Bandstand”, sponsored by a watchband manufacturer, named Jacques Kreisler and supposed to have taken place on May 3, 1951. (some sources say May 2). We here the same band as in all previous broadcasts in May and June 1951, but with two new singers, Thelma Carpenter and Avon Long, who were only to appear with Duke Ellington and his orchestra on this specific occasion. Both singers were well-known personalities in the entertainment world, Thelma Carpenter had replaced Helen Humes in the Basie orchestra, and Avon Long had been performing in the role of Sportin’ Life in Gershwin’s Porgy And Bess on Broadway. (mer…)

Duke Ellington at Birdland, June 30, 1951, part 2

Relaterad bild

How High The Moon

The second part of the WMCA broadcast with Duke Ellington & his Orchestra continues. This part of the programme consists of:

*How High The Moon*Mood Indigo*Love You Madly#*Fancy Dan*Diminuendo In Blue/Wailing Interval/Crescendo In Blue¤*Take The A Train#/Jumpin’ With Symphony Sid into bc close*

# previously issued on Stardust 202

DESS members are welcome to the Goodies Room to listen or download.   (mer…)

Duke Ellington at Birdland, June 30, 1951, part 1


Jumpin’ With Symphony Sid & broadcast intro

Ellington had a rather busy schedule in June 1951, with Meadowbrook and Birdland  being the most important engagements, the latter lasting from June 21 to June 30. We have an existing WMCA broadcast from June 30, with the same orchestra members as earlier in June. The first half of this broadcast can be found in the Goodies Room. The sound quality is not the best but some of the music was issued on record, long time ago (Stardust 202, 1975), and can probably be heard to better advantage with this record available. In this first part of the broadcast, the following numbers are included:

Jumpin’ With Symphony Sid*Take The Train*Midriff*Warm Valley#*Eighth Veil*The Hawk Talks*Flamingo*Boy Meets Horn#                                                                               # Stardust 202 (mer…)

An Ellington debate in 1943

In 1942, the English jazz journalist and author Max Jones founded together with Albert McCarthy and Charles Fox the English jazz magazine Jazz Music. Its issue no. 8/1943 was  focused on Duke Ellington and called Special Ellington Number.


Among the many articles in the issue were two very critical of Ellington’s recent development at the time – some might even call them vicious. One was by Stanley Dance entitled Jazz On And Off  The Track and another by Charles Fox called He’s Got It Bad And That Ain’t Good.

Discussing the two articles in the winter issue of Blue Light in 2014, Roger Boyes says that they ”reveal that the writers could not engage with Ellington’s new music”.

And this is certainly obvious.

Dance starts his article by saying ”Judging from the records we have heard recently the Ellington Orchestra was never worse” and later on he says about Billy Strayhorn that ”he will have originality at the expense of beauty. His work is entirely to be deplored.” Fox’ article is less condemning but its title summarizes very well what he has to says.

However, not everybody agreed with in particular Dance. One of them was a young man by the name of Vic L. Belleby – later in life DESUK chairman – and he provided a rebuttal, which was published in the October 1943 issue of Jazz Music.


The three articles were reprinted in Blue Light in 2002 and a further reprint in new typeset were planned for Blue Light 2014/4 together with the summarizing article by Roger Boyes quoted above. However, in the end only Boyes’ article was published.

Ian Bradley, the current editor of Blue Light, has kindly made the refreshed versions of the articles in pdf format available to the website and they are now in the Ellington Archive together with Roger Boyes´2014 article.

It might be true, as Boyes says in his article, that ”there are better things to reprint” but the three articles provides an interesting read of clashing views on Ellington at one of his career peaks but also from a historiography point of view.


Duke Ellington in 1956 – November and December

Ellington must have had a fairly comfortable time in November and December 1956. He had some good bookings, which should have allowed him and the band to relax, particularly since they could spend some extended time in New York.

November seems to have started with a week-long tour of the southern part of the east coast but specific information exists only for November 3 when he played at North Carolina State College in Raleigh.

By November 8, Ellington was back in New York to start his two-week engagement at Birdland. During his stay there, on November 18, Ellington was apparently the master of ceremonies for the ”6th Annual Religious, Gospel and Folk Music Concert featuring Mahalia Jackson”. The same night CBS aired a Steve Allen Show in which Ellington appeared.


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