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The 8th Ellington Study Group conference took place in Ottawa on May 17-20, 1990. It was the second one organized in Canada. The first one there was in Toronto in 1986 (5th).
Lois K. Moody was the general co-ordinator of the conference and she had an effective organizing committee at her side. Andrew Homzy was one of the members of the committee and responsible for the musical program of the conference.
The conference was well attended and it had the biggest number of participants at an Ellington conference so far.
The conference opened on May 18 following an evening reception on May 17. Ann Ledgister – co-ordinator of Ellington ’89 – passed the Eddie Lambert gavel to Lois Moody, who welcomed the participants and presented the members of the organizing committee.
Many stalwarts of the Ellington conferences were of course in Ottawa like Jerry Valburn, Sjef Hoefsmit, Jack Towers, Alice Babs, Patricia Willard and others. They gave presentations, led panels and shared generously their knowledge on Ellington.
But there was also those who were fairly new to the conferences. One of them was Lee Farley, who flew in from Germany where he lived at that time.
”One feature of the conference I remember is how incredibly well organized it was. Everything occurred when it was supposed to, and no one seemed flustered about anything.
The conference orchestra was well rehearsed, well led (by Andrew Homzy) and well received. Their performance with the group of Ellington alumni and Kenny Burrell was a standout that was scheduled for a later national broadcast on CBC radio. I particularly remember Alice Babs in a duet with Kenny Burrell, although I don’t remember at which of the conference concerts that occurred.”
The musical program was no doubt a strong point of the conference. Andrew Homzy Jazz Orchestra from Montreal played two concerts – one in the evening of the first day and one as the last event of the conference. It regaled the audience with music from some Ellington suites, some more ”pop” tunes , some seldom-heard Ellington and Sacred Concert music. Alice Babs shared the stage with the orchestra in both concerts and got an enthusiastic response to her performance.
The second night belonged to a small group of Ellingtonians – Harold Ashby, Wild Bill Davis, John Lamb, Butch Ballard – to which Kenny Burrell was added. It was apparently a concert ”wild and wonderful”.
There were a total of 18 presentations and three panels.
One group of the presentations was about key figures in the Ellington band like Sonny Greer, Ray Nance, Tricky Sam Nanton and Harry Carney. Another group shared memories of meetings with the Duke. A third group covered specific events in Ellington’s life like Ellington’s tour of Europe in 1939 or when he got on the cover of Time Magazine. A Tone Parallel to Harlem was subject of a very substantial presentation and A Drum Is A Woman was shown on the screen. There was also a set of presentation related to the work done to unveil and consolidate information about Ellington’s career and whereabouts.
The three panels were about the Ellington collection at the Smithsonian, the Sacred Music Concerts and playing in the Ellington orchestra.
All this will be available on the DESS’ website in one form of the other during the next three weeks.
The first ”goodie” in December is program 35 in the Duke Ellington series of broadcast by the Danish Radio in the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s. The broadcast is available in the ”Goodies” section of the website.
The program was broadcasted on October 27, 1985 and presented by Jørgen Frigård.
He had decided to focus on selections from 1967.
The program starts with two selections from the stockpile session March 15, 1967. In the recording session they are simply called No. 1 and No. 3. Later they were issued as The Intimacy Of The Blues and Tell Me ‘Bout My Baby. The latter is listed as I Don’t Want Nobody But You in NDESOR
Unfortunately, it is not possible to say if Tell Me ‘Bout My Baby is take 3 or 4 since it is faded out in the broadcast before the end.
Then Frigård lets us hear the first of three selections from The Jaywalker recorded on April 4, 67. Frigård gives the title as WARR but in the discographies and on the Storyville Jaywalker CD it is called The Biggest (WARR).
Later in the program he features Ego and The Little Purple Flower from the same session.
The next stockpile session in the program is the one from June 23, 1967.
First we hear Swamp Goo. According to Benny Åslunds discographical notes on the DR Ellington Broadcasts, it is take 5 but it can also be take 6 issued on the Musicmasters 5041 CD. Then comes Girdle Hurdle and Blood Count. For some reason Frigård has inserted an excerpt of an interview with Harry Carney between the two songs.
The program ends with two more selections from June 23, 1967 – Up Jump (take 4) and Rue Bleu (take 2) – and My Little Brown Book from a RCA recording session on August 30, 1967.
Ellington was frequently interviewed during his concert tours all over the world. The website has already published some of those interviews like the CBC one by Bryng Whittaker on September 2, 1964 (https://ellington.se/2016/09/09/duke-ellington-cbc-interview-september-2-1964) and the one by Willis Conover in 1973 (https://ellington.se/2017/05/23/conover-interviews-ellington-1973/).
Here are three more.
During his visit to Sweden in 1971, the TV producer Gunilla Marcus managed to get Ellington to sit down with her for a talk after the second concert in Uppsala.
In 1964, Ellington started his European tour in England where he stayed 16 days. According to the indispensable TDWAW (http://tdwaw.ca/), they arrived on 15 February, most likely in the morning. Later in the day trumpeter and band leader Humphrey Lyttleton and the Melody Maker jazz critic Max Jones interviewed Ellington for BBC.
In the interview Ellington talks about how he started his musical career in Washington D.C., how he went on to establish himself in New York (NYC) and about Billy Strayhorn’s arrival in his life.
It is an excerpt of a longer interview. If anyone of the readers of the web site has the longer one, please contact the DESS web editor.
The last interview is from Ellington’s visit to Copenhagen in 1958, when he was interviewed on the news program Aktuelt Kvarter by a Danish journalist on September 7, 1958.
Ellington politely answers the questions of the journalist who summaries the answers in Danish. At the end of the interview Ellington says that he could do without the analysts and just keep the listeners.
It might not be winter yet but the new issue of the DESS Bulletin was sent to its subscribers = the DESS members yesterday. As usual a lot of good reading thanks to the energetic work of Bo Haufman.
Elmer Snowden is the featured artist this time.
”Was he really an Ellingtonian,” asks Bo and gives an affirmative answer in a detailed and well-researched article. The focus is of course on Snowden’s collaboration with Duke Ellington but other aspects of Snowden’s career are also well covered.
Another article by Bo Haufman deals with Duke Ellington’s ”occasional” vocalists i.e. the well-known 1920’s and 1930’s vocalists who Irving Mills paired with Ellington in recording sessions. Bo maps this group, gives short biographies and the songs recorded.
From Bo’s pen comes also an article about the Juan Tizol-Duke Ellington composition Congo Brava. NDESOR lists only two recordings of the song. Bo is puzzled by this and reflect on it in the article. He also quotes what Eddie Lambert and Gunther Schuller has written about it and refer the reader to an article by Lawrence Gushee in the Ellington Reader.
Mike Zirpolo’s contribution to the new Bulletin is an article about Morning Glory. It is a reprint from his website Swing & Beyond, where it was originally published in December last year. It was among the songs recorded by Ellington on his first session for Victor in 1940. He is credited as the composer but it is apparently Rex Stewart who composed it. The article tells the story of how the rights got into Ellington’s hands.
Another find by Bo for reprint in the Bulletin is the part about Ellington in the diary Spike Hughes kept during his visit to New York in1933. It paints an interesting picture not so much of Ellington as of Hughes.
In addition to these articles, the new Bulletin reports from the DESS meeting on 16 September and reviews of Jack Chambers new book Sweet Thunder – Duke Ellington’s Music in Nine Themes as well as Storyville’s CD with Ellington’s concert in Uppsala in 1971. It also has the program of the upcoming Ellington conference in Washington D.C. in March next year.
New issue of Blue Light
With the 2019 Summer of Blue Light, the magazine enters into a new era. Dr. Patrick Olsen has taken over as editor and change seems to be his key word. ”Future issues of Blue Light will be full of new voices and contribute more to mapping Ellington across Britain in our current time” he says in his editorial column. Change is also marked by a new layout, which makes it easier for old eyes to read the magazine.
Change is also the theme of the major article of the new issue. It is written by Roger Boyes and over more than 13 pages he traces the changes in the Ellington Orchestra during the Petrillo recording ban period in 1942. A must read for all of us interested in Ellington!
New Ellington CD from Maison du Duke
According to the latest newsletter of Maison du Duke, in November it will issue a new CD in its Ellington series. It will be the 12th one and it is a Jimmie Blanton Special made up of ”live” recordings, and often rare from Duke Ellington’s orchestra in 1940 and 1941.
Claude Carrière will talk about the new CD on Sunday 17 November at Reid Hall, 4 rue de Chevreuse, Paris (6th) at 4.30 pm.
Like the previous ones, the new CD will be available only to members of Maison du Duke, which also have to pay 5 euros for the postage.
Playboy Jazz Festival 1959
Brian Koller, the relentless Ellington on YouTube ‘watchman’ has recently drawn the attention of Ellington aficionados and fans – thank you Brian – to two Playbox Jazz Festival 1959 videos featuring Duke Ellington and his orchestra. The first one is a 7 minutes video titled The Greatest Three Days in Jazz, which features Ellington opening the festival and gives some facts about it. In the video one hears Ellington playing V.I.P Boogie on the first night of the festival – August 7, 1959 – and Satin Doll on the afternoon of August 8.
The second video is one called This Is Jazz and put on YouTube by Old Time Radio. It is one of 26 half-hour segments that AFRS recorded from the festival and features Ellington’s performance on the night of August 8.. Jimmy Rushing is key part of it He sings Goin’ To Chicago, Hello Little Boy and Sent For You Yesterday and Paul Gonsalves contributes and a very R&B mood. However, the segment ends with pure Ellington – Things Ain’t What They Used To Be, El Gato and Hand Me Down Love.
New Ellington Books (2)
The American writer and jazz columist Con Chapman has written a biography about Johnny Hodges. The title is Rabbit’s Blues – The Life and Music of Johnny Hodges.
It is not entirely clear if it has been published yet. According to the website of the publisher – Oxford University Press – the book will be published Nov. 1 but both new and used copies of it are available at amazon.com. The price for a hardcopy is 27,95 USD. It is also available as an e-book (Kindle) for 14 USD less. However, the book is currently not available on the European Amazon websites.
The web editor has taken advantage of the e-book offer and has read it this week.
It gives a very complete story of the life and career of Johnny Hodges. The book takes the reader the from Hodges’ birth to his death with almost overwhelming details. His references and footnotes indicates that he has read everything that has already been written about Hodges and used it to a very comprehensive book.
The website will not review the book in detail but recommend its vistors to read the excellent review, which former Blue Light editor Ian Bradly published on his website a couple of days ago. The url is http://villesville.blogspot.com/.
The 26th Duke Ellington Study Group Conference will take place in Washington D.C. at Georgetown University on March 11-15 next year. The organiser of the conference is Professor Anna Celenza, who holds the Thomas E. Caestecker Chair in Music at Georgetown University and had written extensively about Duke Ellington.
With this it is obvious that academic musicologists have taken over the relay as regards Ellington conferences. Out of the last three only one – New York 2016 – has been organised by a Duke Ellington Society or equivalent.
The web editor spoke to Dr. Matthias Heyman about this at the 2018 Ellington Conference in Birmingham. He had just before the conference obtained a PhD of Arts at the University of Antwerp in 2018 with his doctorial thesis on Jimmy Blanton.
The theme for the 2020 conference is Mapping Duke Ellington’s World.
This theme is broadly conceived by the organizers and can include presentations and performances on a range of topics including Ellington’s travels/tours, Ellington’s collaborators, Ellington collections/archives around the world, transcription as a form of musical mapping, musical landscapes in Ellington’s works, mapping the Ellington imagination, Ellington and film, Ellington iconography, and the reception history of Ellington’s works/performances”.
The deadline for proposing papers was August 15 but possibly proposals can still be submitted.
In addition to presentations of academic papers, panels and roundtables there will be cultural walks and visits in Washington D.C. as well as a program of performances by local Washington DC performers.
Keynote speakers will be
Professor Thomas Brothers, Duke University who has published books on Louis Armstrong as well as Duke Ellington
Dr. John E. Hasse, Curator Emeritus at Smithsonian and author of Beyond Categories: The Life and Genius of Duke Ellington and many other books.
Professor Tammy Kernodle, Society of American Music
The conference will open with a concert at the classical jazz club Blues Alley in Georgetown.
A website – http://www.ellington2020.org – is already in place. There one can find more information about the conference and buy conference tickets, book hotel and more.
A ticket to the five-day conference is 75 USD for those retired and 100 USD for younger participants. The prices are valid until Dec. 15
Ellington’s Sacred Concerts
The Jazz History Online blog (https://jazzhistoryonline.com), with Thomas Cunniffe as editor, published a very extensive article on Ellington’s Sacred Concerts before the summer. It is highly recommended for everyone interested in the concerts.
Cunniff writes about how each concert developed and about the main songs in each of them. It is richly illustrated by photos and video clips (including some provided by DESS from the Second Sacred Consert in the Gustaf Vasa Cathedral
The article can be read at https://jazzhistoryonline.com/duke-ellingtons-sacred-concerts.
New pods at Ellington Reflections
The website Ellington Reflections (https://ellingtonreflections.com/) continues tirelessly to produce podcasts on different topics related to Ellington. During the summer it has published five new ones.
Portrait of Lawrence Brown 1 and 2 (July 21 and August 4 2019)
The Treasury Shows 4 (July 7 2019)
Old Wine and New Bottles (June 16 2019)
Portrait of Otto Hardwicke (June 2 2019
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.