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It is amazing to see how aliveEllington still is. Three fresh CDs with Ellington music have been issued so far this year. In addition, a book on the role of the piano in the Ellington orchestra has also been published and more books are on their way.
The book is written by the French pianist, composer, arranger and orchestra leader Leîla Olivesi. It is dedicated to Claude Carrièr and published by IREMUS – Institut de recherch en musicologie. The book is available for download (no cost) from La Maison du Duke website (http://www.maison-du-duke.com/recherche-et-publications). The book is in French. Those, who cannot read this wonderful language, can hear Leïla Olivesi’s presentation on the topic at the Ellington 2021 Meeting in English (https://ellington.se/2021/05/20/ellington-2021-leila-olivesi).
In his presentation at the Ellington 2021 Meeting, Laurent Mignard gave some glimps of his new Ellington project Duke Ladies.
It is a very creative and ambitious project to give new perspectives on Duke Ellington’s music and Mignard is using his talent as arranger, his Duke Orchestra and seven female guest artists – the Duke Ladies – to achieve this.
The first result is demonstrated in the CD released last week.
It comes with a very good liner notes with detailed information about the 13 tracks.
More information is available at the links below. Together they give the song and performer list of the CD, a very nice video teaser, a short video presentation of Duke Ladies and text presentation of the project in English.
Volume 2 will be released next year and there will be a release concert with the Duke Orchestra and some of the Duke Ladies at the Chatelet concert venue on May 12 2022.
The easiest way is to buy the CD from Laurent Mignard’s website (https://www.laurent-mignard.com/shop) but it is also available at Amazon.fr and the website of the production company Just A Trace (https://www.juste-une-trace.com/en/store)
Duke Ellington in Berlin 1959
In the autumn of 1959, Duke Ellington came back to Europe for a more extensive tour than in 1958. It started in The Netherlands on September 18 and ended in Germany on October 20. Between those dates, Ellington played concerts in The Netherlands, France, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and one in each of Switzerland and Austria.
At the end of this summer, Storyville released a CD with Ellington’s concert at Sportpalatset in Berlin on October 4, 1959.
The concert has been available commercially before on vinyl as well as CD.
The English label Swing House published two LPs with most of the concert in 1978 (SWH 4) and 1982 (SWH 28). Some of the material on the LPs appeared on a Sound of Yester Year CD in 1986 and the CD The Incomparable Duke Ellington issued in 1987 has about half of the Swing House material but also two unissued songs from the concert – Newport Up and I Let A Song Go Out of My Heart/Don’t Get Around Much Anymore.
The new Storyville CD is a big improvement compared to what has been available before. The sound is much better and the music is presented in chronological order. Bjarne Busk as producer and Jorgen Vad as sound engineer are responsible for this
With the CD comes also extensive and very informative liner notes by Dan Morgenstern with detailed comments on the music.
Another CD by Storyville highly recommended !
According to NDESOR, Happy Anatomy, All of Me, Just Sqeeze Me/It Don’t Mean A Thing and Happy Reunion were played at the concert but they are not on the CD (and not on other issues either). Perhaps someone has got those tracks and can let the DESS website publish them as goodies.
The concert in Berlin was not the only one recorded during the tour.
The two concerts at Salle Pleyel on September 20 were recorded as well and most of the material has been issued on the Affinity and Sarpe Top Jazz labels.
Also recordings of the two concerts in Stockholm on September 26 exists and have been circulating among collectors for a long time.
To make them more widely available, the DESS website offered them as “goodies” to DESS members in November 2019. Go to https://ellington.se/2019/11/12/stockholm-26-september-1959-forsta-forestallningen and https://ellington.se/2019/11/15/stockholm-26-september-1959-andra-forestallningen to read the articles and download the concerts (DESS members only).
Ellington gave his first concerts in Sweden in Malmö on September 23. It was the author’s first live encounter with the Maestro and my body began shaking when the orchestra intoned Take The “A” Train and Ellington strolled onto the stage.
The concert in Zurich on October 9 was televised and a rather poor copy of the telecast is available on YouTube.
There is also a recording of the concert in Munich on October 11 but to the knowledge of the author it has not been released in any form.
Johnny Hodges in Paris 18 February 1961
Just before the summer, the French record company Frémaux et associés added another Ellington-related gem to its very impressive catalog. It is a recording of a concert by Johnny Hodges and the Duke Ellington Giants at Olympia in Paris March 18, 1961.
The music is typical Ellington repertoire except for a new song – Blues for Madeleine – dedicated to Madeleine Gautier, Hugues Panassié’s collaborator and wife.
Only one song in the concert – Blue Moon – is not included in the CD.
The sound is excellent. The concert was recorded by Europe 1 and the producers have had access to the master tapes. Thank you George Debroe for this information.
The concert was part of a 14 day European tour organised by Norman Granz taking advantage of the fact that members of Ellington orchestra were on vacation for a long period when Ellington and Billy Strayhorn were in Paris to work on the Paris Blues movie.
The Ellington Giants, who joined Hodges, were Lawrence Brown, Harry Carney, Ray Nance, Al Williams and Sam Woodyard.
Besides Paris, Hodges and his men gave concerts in Stockholm (March 14 or 15) and Helsinki (March 16).
The group also played concert(s) in Berlin at Sportpalatset but more research is needed to establish the exact date(s).
Some sources say that it was the last concert after the one in Paris. However, the Tom Lord jazz discography claims that there was also a concert in Scandinavia (Copenhagen?) on March 22. If this is correct, then the concert in Berlin could have taken place just after the Paris concert but followed by the Scandinavian one.
The website will come back to Hodges’ tour in another article next month.
The day started with typical French lunch. Around the table of the musicians, there was a heated discussion on interpreting Ellington.
In the afternoon Claude Carrière gave a workshop where he demonstrated quite a number of Ellington songs. His CD box of Ellington songs is highly recommended
The evening started with an Ellington concert by the Wenzo Trio enlarged with Laurent Mignard and Franck Pilandon.
And it ended with dancing to Ellington music long into the night.
Duke Ellington is certainly alive in France!