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Smått och gott / Bits and Pieces

DESS Bulletin 2016-1

It is now available also to non-DESS members (and to those who joined DESS in 2017 or this year) to read and download. Just go to the tab ”Bulletinen” on the front page.

This issue put the focus on Tyree Glenn. Bo Haufman portraits him in a four-page article.

Other interesting articles are – among others – one by Irving Townsend about Ellington in private and another by Ken Steiner reporting on the 23rd Ellington Study Group conference in Portland, Oregon.

Radio program – Bill Saxonis

Bill Saxonis’ 4 timmar långa Ellington-program på radiostationen WCDB (90.9-FM), Albany, New York finns nu i Ellington-arkivet uppdelat i fyra avsnitt.

Det första avsnittet har fokus på Ella Fitzgerald och det andra på Thelonius Monk. Den tredje delen ägnas åt Svend Asmussen och Dizzy Gillespie och den fjärde åt Buster Cooper och Joe Temperley.

Al Hirschfeld

The famous American caricaturist Al Hirschfeld made several caricatures of Duke Ellington. His most famous is the one he made in 1931 for the Irving Mills organization and which was used in the first of Mills’ ”advertising manual” for Ellington.

Steven Lasker has written a quite detailed article about it for the Al Hirschfeld Foundation. The article is called ”Backstory in Black and White” (http://www.alhirschfeldfoundation.org/spotlight/backstory-black-and-white).


The ”Just Jazz” broadcasts on February 9, 1949 from ”The Hollywood Empire” club at 1539 Vine Street in Hollywood is available on YouTube since early January.


Thank you to Brian Koller for drawing the attention of the Ellington community to this and to Patricia Willard for her comment to the YouTube posting.

Stockholm 1994 (8)

This is the final part of videos from the Ellington ’94 conference in Stockholm.

At the end of the first day, Professor Ted Hudson, at that time vice-president of the Washington D.C. Chapter of Duke Ellington Society, gave a presentation on Ellington’s childhood in Washington D.C. In it, he depicted the cultural, religious and racial environment, in which Ellington grew up.

On the last day, Walter van de Leur – the Billy Strayhorn specialist and nowadays professor Jazz and Improvised Music at the University of Amsterdam – gave his first Ellington conference presentation on his research work on Billy Strayhorn. He would give presentations on this topic at many other Ellington conferences and academic musicologist gatherings.

Also Dr. John Edward Hasse, Curator of American Music at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C., took the stage the last day. His topic was ”Ellington Storms Sweden” and he presented press and and public reactions to Ellington’s Swedish and European tour in 1939. He also talked about the work of his department at the Smithsonian to preserve the legacy of Ellington and sold many copies of his book ”Beyond Categories – The Life and Genius of Duke Ellington”, which had been published in 1993.

And then, after three full days of presentations, concerts and social mingling, it was time to thank the organizers, say good-bye and announce Ellington ’95.


DR Ellington Broadcasts (21)

The third ”goodie” for January is program 21 in the Duke Ellington series broadcasted 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 June 14, 1985 and the announcer is Bjarne Busk

The program is focused on ”stockpile” recordings. It starts with a selection from one in February 1957.

It is a little bit unusual since Ellington added a choir to the band in some of the tunes recorded. We hear ”Take The ‘A’ Train” and ”Perdido” in this format. Paul Gonsalves was quite featured in this recording session and the broadcasts let us hear an unusual version of ”Moon Mist” with Gonsalves as soloist.

The broadcast then continues with the ”stockpile” session, from March 19, 1956. Selections from this session have been included in earlier broadcasts. This time we hear ”Miss Lucy” and ”Prelude To A Kiss” with the full band with solos by Ray Nance and Johnny Hodges respectively.

Next, the broadcast moves to the July 18, 1963 ”stockpile” session. Busk has selected an untitled blues for the listeners. In NDESOR and other discographies it is called ”July 18th Blues”.

Finally, the broadcast ends with two selections from the stockpile session of June 6, 1962 – ”Cottontail” with Jimmy Hamilton as soloist and ”Taffy Twist” with Ray Nance and – once again – Jimmy Hamilton soloing.

”Taffy Twist” is a Mercer Ellington composition and in the broadcast he tells how it became included in ”The River” ballet suite. Earlier in the broadcast, Mercer had talked about the relationship between Ellington and Paul Gonsalves.







Tribute to Buster Cooper

For 18 years, Bill Saxonis – a long-term member of The Duke Ellington Society, New York, an eminent Ellington scholar and a frequent presenter at the Ellington Study Group conferences  – has celebrated Duke Ellington’s birthday with an  annual four-hour  program on radio station WCDB (90.9-FM) in Albany, New York.

In his program last year, Saxonis included a nice tribute to Buster Cooper, who passed away in 2017.

He met Cooper at the Ellington ’08 conference  in London and got the opportunity make a long interview with him.

This is included in the program together with musical examples from Cooper’s time with Ellington. There is also a duet beetween Cooper and John Lamb from the  Ellington ’08 conference.


New Issue of the DESS Bulletin

The new issue of the Bulletin was sent to the DESS members a couple of days ago.

The cover story is about Britt Woodman.

In a two-page article, Thomas Harne gives us the life and career of this ”master of balance and team player” as Harne calls him.

His article is accompanied by an interview of Woodman by Göran Wallén, a discography of recordings with Woodman as a soloist outside the Ellington orchestra and an excerpt about Woodman from Kurt Dietrich’s book ”Duke’s Bones – Ellington’s Great Trombonists”.

Another main feature in the new Bulletin is Bo Haufman’s five-page article about trumpeters, who played with Ellington during shorter periods like Jabbo Smith, Louis Metcalf, Shorty Baker, Al Killian, Rolf Ericson, Herbie Jones, Jimmy Coles and a hand-full of others.

There is also an interesting article by the late comic book writer and music critic Harvey Pekar about Ellington’s bassists. It is a reprint from the ”Bass Player” magazine from 2000.

Besides these three articles, there is, of course, a lot of other good reading in the new Bulletin.

Particularly, the Swedish readers shouldn’t miss Thomas Harne’s report from the December meeting of DESS. It tells in an elegant way what all DESS members, who did not show up for the meeting, missed.


Smått och gott / Bits and Pieces

Nästa DESS-möte 12 februari 2018

Det äger som vanligt rum i på Franska Skolans Aula, Döbelnsgatan 3 i Stockholm som vanligt. Peter Lee , styrelseledamot i DESS och mycket annat svarar för kvällens föredrag. Han kommer att prata om  Wynton Marsalis och hans Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, som är en av de orkestrar som håller Ellington-arvet ledande.

Föredraget föregås av årsmötet för DESS med val av styrelse och annat.

Duon Fredrik Lindborg på saxofon/klarinett och Martin Sjöstedt på piano/bas svarar för kvällens musik.

Slut upp mangrant!


From time to time DESS members contact the website about Ellington concerts and broadcasts on YouTube. We will pass them on if we consider that they are worthwhile.

Recently David Palmquist passed on the following link to the Duke-LYM mailing list https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xa6uaE2oYj4.

It is a telecast from the Australian Broadcast Corporation, which was recorded by the French ORTF on July 2 and 6, 1970 (NDESOR 7050) and broadcasted on July 7, 1970. The ABC clip is a shorter version of the telecast.

Another YouTube recommendation comes from Göran Axelsson , who frequently harvests YouTube. It is ”Blue Reverie” from Benny Goodman’s Carnegie Hall concert in 1938 played by a small group from the Ellington orchestra https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kELNBR8V_28. Possibly, the sound file is ripped from the Columbia Legacy CD box released in 1999. It has all the Goodman introductions recorded in 1950.

YouTube also has  a ”Blue Reverie” video claimed to originate from a Columbia 78 promo issued in 1951 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJ7bW-SRuLc.

Blue Light

The last 2017 issue of DESUK’s Blue Light recently reached its subscribers, i.e. the DESUK members.

The key feature is the second install of the series on Irving Mills’ publicity manuals for Duke Ellington.

This time the article is written by Carl Woideck, who gave a presentation on the 1933-1934 manual to the Ellington Conference in New York in 2016. The full manual is reprinted in Blue Light in a beautiful way.

In addition to record reviews and DESUK ”cuisine”, the new issue of Blue Light also has a review of the book ”Duke Ellington Studies” published by Cambridge University Press. The two page article takes a positive position on the book, which unfortunately has been neglected by the Ellington community because of its price.

Ellington and Dixie Girl Revue 1923

Ken Steiner has, together with Steven Lasker and David Palmquist, an impressive record of finding information about the early career of Duke Ellington by harvesting newspapers and journals. Recently he reported on Facebook that he had found an ad in New York Evening Telegram of November 8, 1923 in which Ellington is mentioned as composer. It is an ad for the opening of the ”Dixie Girl Revue”.

In his Facebook post, Ken says that it is the earliest reference in print to Ellington as a composer that he has seen so far.

Well done, Ken!




Mercer Ellington with Marian McPartland

For many years, the jazz pianist Marian McPartland – once married to the trumpeter Jimmy McPartland – had a weekly program – ”Piano Jazz” – on National Public Radio in the United States.

In the program she interviewed fellow pianists (and sometimes other instrumentalists) and performed music related to them. McPartland stayed with the program for 23 years from 1978 to 2011.


Mercer Ellington was the guest on the program broadcast on May 21, 1994.

In a relaxed atmosphere, Mercer talks about  Duke Ellington but also Billy Strayhorn and shares thoughts with McPartland on their approach to music. In-between, McPartland gives personal interpretations of some of their songs like ”Things Ain’t What They Used to Be”, ”Chelsea Bridge” and ”In My Solitude”.

They also sit down together at the piano to play a version of ”C Jam Blues”.




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