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Bob Udkoff was born in Chicago but moved later to California and settled in Los Angeles. He was a lifelong friend and associate of Duke Ellington, Joe Williams, Kenny Burrell and many others in the jazz world. He had a successful career as a founder of Blue Haven Pools.
Duke and Udkoff had been friends since 1934 when Udkoff worked for a dry cleaner and dropped off Duke’s clothes at the Dunbar Hotel in Los Angeles where Duke was staying.
When Bob Udkoff celebrated his 50th birthday on April 17, 1968 at Cabellero Country Club in Los Angeles, Duke Ellington and his Orchestra provided the music and took part in the celebrations.
Udkoff recorded privately about four hours of music by Duke and his men, and also by other guests.
A few years ago these tapes found their way to Sjef Hoefsmit with the stated purpose that he could make them available to Ellington fans on a non-commercial basis. The material fills 3 CD records and today we are happy to offer the content of the first one to the DESS-members for listening and downloading in the Goodies Room. This is possible thanks to the generosity of Mark Cantor – the jazz film specialist with his website http://jazz-on-film.com/ – who has provided us with the files.
Duke played a lot of piano solos, with the band joining in now and then. No charts were used by the band members, but this of course was familiar ground to all of them. Duke starts with Salute To Morgan State and I Can’t Get Started. There is sometimes a rather loud chatter from the birthday guests, which is one reason why these performances were not judged feasible for commercial issue.
Duke at the piano
(the top picture is not from this session)
The band joins in on I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart and Don’t Get Around Much Anymore where Johnny Hodges is heard soloing. Next, Jimmy Jones takes over as piano player with Cat Anderson as the soloist in Satin Doll. Lawrence Brown is the trombone player heard on I Left My Heart In San Fransisco whereafter The Twitch is played by Duke and the full band.
Mood Indigo is played in usual fashion after a few different introductions and after a short interlude. Cootie Williams is the soloist in Fly Me To The Moon. Next is a new performance of Satin Doll with Duke at the piano and with Paul Gonsalves playing tenor. This is followed by Duke playing solo piano on Dance No 3 from the Liberian Suite after which we can hear Clark Terry playing in Stompin’ At The Savoy. At the end of this CD, Duke again is at the piano playing Blue Belles of Harlem, Meditation and New World A-Comin’.
No attempt has been made at editing this recording, which means that the listener has to accept some interruptions and guest chatter. Nevertheless, listening to this recording could be of interest to the DESS members. We hope you’ll enjoy it!
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.
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 Indigo, Satin Doll, In 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.