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The Spring Issue of the DESS Bulletin

The second issue of the DESS Bulletin is on its way to the DESS members and some might already have got it in their mailboxes.

It is an issue with total focus on Cat Anderson except for some DESS house-keeping information.

It starts with the presentation that the late Ellington specialist and aficinado, Alexandre Rado, made at the Ellington ’94 conference in Stockholm about his friend Cat Anderson. A video with his presentation was published on the DESS website on December 3 last year and can be viewed here.

Bo Haufman, the editor of the DESS Bulletin, contributes an interesting articles about ”The Cat” as a composer and has transcribed an interview with him, which was published in a Facebook group last year.

The Chairman of DESS, Leif Jönsson, writes very personally about ”My Cat”, for which he has a particular fondness and admiration and the new issue of the Bulletin also includes a reprint of an article about Cat Anderson by the late Leif Andersson in the Swedish jazz magazine Orkesterjournalen in April 1963.

It provides also a discography of Cat Anderson’s recordings under his own name and some examples of video- and sound files with Cat Anderson on YouTube.

 

Ellington ’89 in Washington D.C. (4)

The second day of the conference also had a very full program.

and the President of Chapter 90 of the Ellington Society, Terrell Allen,  guided the audience through it with firm hands but also with a lot of jokes.

It started with the handing over of the Eddie Lambert gavel and some welcoming words.

Then Jerry Valburn asked Sjef Hoefsmit, Klaus Strateman, Gordon Ewing and ”the young man” Steven Lasker to join him at the podium for a discussion on ongoing research about Ellington.

 

The full video of the panel discussion is in Ellington Archive

Kurt Dietrich from Ripon College in Ripon, Wisconsin then took the floor. He came to the conference to tell about his PhD work on Lawrence Brown and to get some feed-back from the Ellington specialists gathered at the conference.

Follwing his doctoral dissertation and a number of journal articles, he published in 1999 his book, Duke’s ’Bones: Ellington’s Great Trombonists. It was follwed 10 years later by another book on a similar topic Jazz ’Bones: The World of Jazz Trombone. Both are highly recommended!

Another speaker during the second day was Andrew Homzy from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada –  musicologist, arranger, big band leader, Duke Ellington as well as Charlie Mingus specialist and much more. He was a well-known profile at many Ellington Study Group conferences and is still an important part of the international network of Ellington aficionados and specialists.

This time he talked about Ellington’s La Plus Belle Africane.

Two other speakers during the second day were Bruce Kennan, member of the New York Chapter of the Duke Ellington Society, and Martin Williams.

The topic for Kennan’s presentation was ”Spoken Ellington” and he let the the audience listen to excerpts from a number of Ellington interviews.

Martin Williams spoke about ”Stealing from the Duke” and made his point with musical examples.

The other presentations from the second day of the Washington ’89 conference will be included in a later article together with some from the third day.

The day ended with a concert by Doug Brady’s The Great Americ Music Ensemble, which gave a panorama of Ellington’s music from the late 20’s to the late 50’s. Here is a tidbit from the concert. The full one will be included in the next article.

 

 

 

 

Ellington ’89 in Washington D.C. (3)

The report from Ellington ’89 that appeared in the 1989-3 issue of the DEMS Bulletin, says ”that visitors from abroad appreciated the Smithsonian all-day as ideal”.

For most of them, it was the first visit to the Smithsonian Institution and its National Museum of American History and they got treated to a full day of presentations on the Ellington Collection established the year before.

The Director of the National Museum of American history, Robert G. Kennedy, welcomed the conference participants to the museum and introduced the Ellington Collection together with John E. Hasse, Curator of American Music since 1984.

Hasse also spoke about the museum’s collection on ”Development of Jazz” more generally.

Mark Tucker, who had been among the first to make use of the Ellington Collection for his research, followed Hasse and spoke about the music in the Collection

In the afternoon session, there were presentations by, among others, Martin Williams and Patricia Willard.

Williams, the author of many book on jazz, presented his work for the Smithsonian on an upcoming  book-and-record-set to be called ”Duke Ellington: Masterpieces 1926-1968”.

Unfortunately, for a number of reasons, the album never appeared.

However, in 1994 John E. Hasse produced for the Smithsonian Collection of Recordings a two-CD set with a 28-page booklet. Slightly paraphrasing the title of his book on Ellington published the year before, It was called  ”Beyond Category: The Musical Genius of Duke Ellington”.

The topic for Willard’s presentation was ”Billy Strayhorn and the Ellington Collection”. She really foreshadows the importance  of the Ellington Collection to ensure Strayhorn’s proper place in the Ellington legacy.

Other presentations on the Ellington Collection during the day – like the one by Marcia Greenlee on ”The Smithsonian’s Oral History Project On Duke Ellington” – can be found in the Ellington Archive.

Congressman John Conyers, who had been instrumental in securing Congressional funding for the Ellington Collection, and Mercer Ellington were honored guests at the opening. Their speeches are also in the website’s Ellington Archive.

Finally, after a long day, it was time to summarize and thank everybody. John Hasse did this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smått och Gott /Bits And Pieces

The Ellington Conference in Birmingham

There is still no website for the conference but  it seems for sure that it will take place. The facility for buying conference tickets is up and running. Go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/25th-duke-ellington-conference-3-day-tickets-tickets-44978484859.

A three-day ticket to the conference costs £75 and one-day tickets will cost £30 for the Friday events, £35 for Saturday and £15 for Sunday.

Have trust in the organizers, buy your ticket(s) and book flight and hotel asap!

Jump For Joy documentary

A documentary about the musical revue is under preparation by a team in Los Angeles. One member of it is the jazz film specialist Mark Cantor, which should guarantee that it will be of high quality. It is still not known when it will be released. The DESS website will keep you posted.

Those of you that are not aware of Cantor’s fabulous website ”Jazz on Film (http://jazz-on-film.com) are strongly adviced to visit it. It is a treasury of information about films with jazz elements, especially from the 1930s and 1940s, and a labour of love.

Spring issue of Blue Light 2018 and 2016

The latest issue of DESUK’s Blue Light has arrived in the mailbox. Once again, its editor Ian Bradley provides a lot of interesting Ellington read.

The issue is dominated by the third installment of the series on Irving Mills’ Advertising Manuals for Ellington. This time it is a reprint of a third manual but without any commenting texts.

It also includes a major five-page article by Roger Boyes on ”Creole Rhapsody” and an article by Krin Gabbard on the firing of Charles Mingus from the Ellington Orchestra.

Since two years has passed since the 2016 Spring issue of Blue Light was published, it is now available to DESS members in the Ellington Archive.

Among the articles are two about Ellington’s Sacred Concert in the Coventry Cathedral in 1966, one about Harold Ashby as leader on records and one about Ellington’s visit to Châtaeu Goutelas in Loire (France) in 1966.

Ellington Reflections

Steve Bowie, who is a muscian living in Pasadena, California, publish regularly podcasts on different aspects of Ellington and his music.

The latest podcast published just a couple of days ago is called ”Beyond The Usual Suspects, Again” and has as its starting point the handful of Ellington compositions like Mood IndigoSatin DollIn A Sentimental Mood, etc.which played over and over again at tribute concerts and in recording.

The one before was about Ray Nance as violinist and called ”Duke Ellington’s String Section”.

The podcasts are available on http://www.ellingtonreflections.com and can be downloaded from iTunes. They are also announced on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

Ellington ’89 in Washington D.C. (2)

Following the very successful and almost legendary Ellington ’88 conference in Oldham, England, the Ellington Study Group Conference returned to Washington D.C. for its 7th edition. It took place on April 28-29, 1989 and was proceeded by a full day symposium at The Smithsonian and its National Museum of American History.

The Duke Ellington Society Chapter 90 was responsible for the conference. Its long-standing President Terrell Allan was chairman of the organizing committee and Ann Ledgister the conference coordinator.

The full Ellington ’89 program can be read and downloaded here.

Bob Reny, who was part of the organizing committee, has generously shared his recollection of the preparation of the conference with the DESS website.

”To begin with, The Duke Ellington Society, Washington DC was a relatively small organization and we didn’t think we could mount a Conference recognizing Duke’s 90th Birthday in light of our few members and limited funds.  But we began, chipping away at one obstacle after another, feeding off the material supplied by other Societies.

We had great cooperation from the Mayflower Hotel for the two day event.

The major challenge – the music – was solved when we engaged the Doug Richard’s Orchestra from Richmond, VA which had a solid reputation of playing Ellington’s music with unbridled passion.  Then through the friendships of some of our key members with Ellington sidemen, we were able to secure the talents of vocalist Herb Jefferies and clarinetist Jimmy Hamilton and those two luminaries, supported by the Richard’s Orchestra, helped swell our paid reservations list.

We still, however, didn’t have the level of funding to complete the conference and an angel in the form of famed recording engineer, Jack Towers, a member of our Society, came to our rescue with a no interest loan. Jack, who was loved by all of us, passed in 2010 at age 96 but not before becoming an “audio magician” for restoring, remastering and producing jazz vintage recordings for a myriad of jazz labels world-wide.  He will also be remembered always for his role in recording the Ellington Orchestra live at Fargo, North Dakota in 1940, an album that became a best seller and received a Grammy Award.

Another key contributor to our Conference was Washington’s jazz radio giant Felix Grant (WMAL & WDCU), who painstakingly unearthed the birth certificate of Ellington and then worked for fifteen years to have a commemorative plaque placed at his birth place, 2129 Ward Place, NW, Washington, DC which is now a bulk mail postal facility – the bronze plaque is mounted on the outside brick wall near the entrance.

Grant commented that “Ellington has been a name in music for about six decades of the century.  The only other person I can say that is true of is Irving Berlin.”  The plaque was unveiled by son Mercer Ellington on the birthday of his father in the afternoon of the second day of our Conference, April 29;  the ceremony was well attended by conference participants.”

This far Bob Reny.

Doug Richard and his orchestra was not the only one performed Ellington music at the conference. Another one was the late Ellington scholar and author of the book ”Ellington: The Early Years” Dr. Mark Tucker.

Replacing the originally announced orchestra ”The Army Blues”, Tucker thrilled the conference participants, which had gathered for an evening reception at the Flag Hall of the National Museum of American History, with a concert with Ellington’s piano music.

The concert is also available as a soundfile in the Ellington Archive’s Washington D.C. 1989 folder

Danish Radio Ellington Broadcasts (23)

The fourth ”goodie” for March is program 23 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 28, 1985 and the announcer this time is Ib Skovgaard

It is a broadcast with excerpts from three live concerts – one in 1958 and two in 1970. In between the music, there are interview snippets with both Duke and Mercer Ellington.

The program starts with ”Take The ‘A’ Train” from Ellington’s concert in Munich in Germany on Nov. 14, 1958. Other selections from this concert – ”Black and Tan Fantasy/Creole Love Call/The Mooche”, ”Newport Up” and ”Sophisticated Lady” – are played later in the program. Together they form the opening part of the Munich concert.

Then follows another excerpt from the Danish Radio interviews with Mercer Ellington in 1984. This time he talks about why he decided to make the donation to Danish Radio.

The third part of the program is excerpts from the interview of Duke Ellington, which Ted O’Reilly did for the Canadian public radio station CKPC on March 17, 1970.

 

 

 

 

Chelsea Bridge – unabridged versions

On November 10 last year, the website published an article by Joe Medjuck on an unabridged version of Chelsea Bridge issued on vol. 12 in the Storyville DETS series.

The website followed it up by publishing a broadcast from Casa Mañana in Culver City, CA on Feb. 20, 1941.

These two articles, the audio material that came with them, plus an upcoming big band project of Strayhorn music that he will direct, prompted DESS member Hans Doerrscheidt, to do a little research of his own. Here is the result.

”As it turns out, not only one, or two, or three, but actually four complete recordings of Chelsea Bridge have survived! How so?

First there is the one from Casa Mañana on Feb. 16, 1941 [i]

The broadcast announcer says: “And now, as our dancing continues, we hear another Billy Strayhorn number: The Duke’s [sic] distinctive arrangement of ‘Chelsea Bridge’.”

With that mis-attribution starts what appears to be the first ever documented performance of the song. Regrettably, the audio quality is not quite what one would wish for. But – it is a copy of a historic broadcast, so why complain. Until we hear…

the broadcast recording from Casa Mañana on Feb. 20 1941 [ii]

“This, ladies and gentlemen, is music by Duke Elligton and his orchestra, via the Mutual Network […] And now, as the dancing continues, the Duke features ‘Chelsea Bridge’…Duke?”

Talk about ‘fidelity’! The audio quality is pristine; every last instrument is audible like you are dancing right in front of the bandstand. Wonderful! Now, fast forward 4 years to…

Radio City, New York City, Sep. 8 1945 [iii]

The announcer says: “Next, Duke Ellington features a group of three Billy Strayhorn compositions, beginning with ‘Chelsea Bridge’.”

This is the “second” full recording that Joe Medjuck pointed out in his article last year. As shown above, in chronology it is actually the third. Fidelity is good, and by now the irritating wrong last note played by Tizol and Carney in 1941 at the end of their respective middle sections (a.k.a bridge) appears to have been corrected in the parts (it’s G natural, not G flat).

Then another 7 years go by, and we hear a familiar voice back in the band: It is Juan Tizol, who plays the unannounced pickup notes to…

the fourth unabridged version performed at a dance date at an unidentified location in Northwestern U.S.A.  in March 1952 [iv]

This is a personal sleeper, as I have had this 3-CD set ever since it came out about five years ago; not until now did I realize that it contains this rarity. The sound quality is quite acceptable for what appears to be a private tape; we hear Tizol repeating his original role, Paul Gonsalves paying tribute to his mentor Ben Webster, and my favorite rhythm team Marshall/Bellson providing a solid beat.

What else?

The three studio recordings from 1941 all have one thing in common: 32 bars of music were cut to make the original 5-minute arrangement fit one side of a 78. However, what is cut is different on all three takes. See my structural analysis below for more details.

Chelsea Bridge Structural Analysis

More recently (i.e. about 20 years ago), the Dutch Jazz Orchestra [v] recorded its version of the unabridged arrangement, based on Walter van de Leur’s research.

And a last note, for all you jazz ensemble directors out there: Alfred Music has two versions of this arrangement published: The transcription of the 1941 RCA master take as well as the unabridged version.

Both editions have their pros and cons; neither one can be taken without a grain of salt, unfortunately. So if you think your band should play as many right notes as possible on this one, feel free to get in touch for my view on things….”

The different versions of Chelsea Bridge mentioned in the article can be found on

[i]  Moon Records (It)MCD084-2 [CD] titled ”Jive Rhapsody”.

[ii] RCA Bluebird 60090-2 [CD] titled ”Duke Ellington – The Centennial Collection”

[iii] DETS (Dan)9039012 [CD]titled ”Duke Ellington Treasury Shows, Vol. 12”

[iv] Acrobat (E)ACTRCD9033 [CD] titled ”Rare ‘Live’ Recordings 1952-3”

[v] Challenge (Du)CHR70092 [CD]titled “Something to Live For – The Music of Billy Strayhorn”

Author: Hans Doerrscheidt (clarinetowner@gmail.com)

 

 

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