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In addition to the 40 minutes film we presented on the website the other day, there is about one hour of raw material from the filming of the Second Sacred Concert in Saint Sulpice in Paris on Nov. 16, 1969.
Some of this material is identical to what appears in the film but it also features some of the songs that were left out from the film.
News clips are available too, they were filmed by ORTF during the rehearsal for the concert and the website has located a segment of one of them. ORTF was the agency responsible for public radio and television in France between 1964 and 1974.
Because of technical WordPress limitations, we have decided to present the material in four separate segments rather than edit all of them together in one clip.
We start with a snapshot from the rehearsal.
Then we move on to the moment when the audience arrives and the orchestra gets on stage to the organ music of Wild Bill Davis.
Next comes the moment when Ellington enters and is welcomed by the chaplain of Saint Sulpice. Then the concert starts and Ellington announces Harry Carney in Praise God. After this follow Supreme Being , Something ‘Bout Believing, Almighty God, The Shepherd , Heaven. And finally the segment ends with Freedom.
The last segment is the final 13 minutes of the film we brought to our readers on Nov. 19. It starts with Ellington paying tribute to Alice Babs, Tony Watkins, Harry Carney and The Swingle Singers for their performance of Freedom. He then announces a break. When he comes back, the film goes directly to Meditation and then continues with Alice Babs singing T.G.T.T and an incomplete version of Praise God And Dance.
With the four segments, we bring you most of what happened in Saint Sulpice on Nov. 16, 1969.
However, despite our efforts, we have not been able to find film clips with the performances of The Biggest, Dont Get Down On Your Knees and Father Forgive, which would have given us a complete version of the concert. Neither have we found clips with The Preacher’s Song and In The Beginning God, which, according to NDESOR, ended the concert.
Luckily, we have at our disposal a sound tape with the five missing songs. The tape seems to be the result of someone recording the concert from a television broadcast. There are two reasons we believe this. Firstly, the sound is very different from the two other film sources we have used; secondly, a French voice describes what is going on in the concert and interpret into French what Ellington says. This voice no doubt belongs to Phillipe Adler (see previous article) but we doubt that the tape was recorded from a Jazz 6 program. It simply does not sounds like one. So the sound on the tape must come from a telecast of the concert at the time.
The tape has everything that follows the performance of Freedom, that is The Biggest, Meditation (nc), Dont Get Down On Your Knees, Father Forgive, The Preacher’s Song and In The Beginning God. The sound quality of the tape is inferior but we have decided to publish it anyhow.
As part of the Alice Babs series in November and December 2016, the website published the first part of Ellington’s performance of the ”Second Sacred Concert” in the Gustav Vasa Church in Stockholm. The article was published on December 8, 2016 and can be read here.
The second part has now been recovered as well and it is available for DESS members in the Goodies Room as a present ahead of Duke’s 119th birthday on Sunday.
However, it is also available below in a more compressed version.
When Duke Ellington and his orchestra embarked on his 1969 tour of Europe, the Second Sacred Concert was set to be performed as well. The first possibility to do so occurred in Stockholm on 6 November 1969, where Alice Babs would be a vital ingredient who was also available to to take part. This memorable occasion took part in one of the churches in central Stockholm, the Gustav Vasa church. Of the band’s ordinary members at the time, Herbie Jones and Buster Cooper stayed behind in the USA, and for this concert they were replaced by the Swedish musicians Rolf Ericson and Gunnar Medberg. British trumpeter Ambrose Jackson was also added to the trumpet section. There were also dancers taking part and last but not the least the show was supported by the Swedish Radio Choir, under the direction Eric Ericson. The scene was thus set for a memorable performance. DESS members will be able to look at or download the first part of the concert in the Goodies Room, as it was televised by Swedish Radio. Above you can enjoy Almighty Good, a duet with Alice Babs and Russell Procope. (mer…)
After the Reprise recordings in Paris, it took four years before Ellington and Alice Babs worked together again and it was only by chance.
In early 1967, Ellington did a European tour together with Ella Fitzgerald. A concert was scheduled for Malmö in the south of Sweden on January 26 but for some reason Fitzgerald had been booked to be also in Berlin that night. So Ellington called Babs and asked if she could step in.
She said yes and arranged to have a piano and a tape recorder available for a rehearsal with Duke when he was in Stockholm some days before. However, in the final end he did not have time so Babs arrived in Malmö totally unprepared.
She remembers: ”When I arrived i Malmö, the Ellington band was not there. The first concert was to start at 19:00 o’clock but the full band was not in place until 19:15. So I had to do two full concerts in front of sold-out houses without any rehearsals.” But Babs managed by getting the band to improvise with her. ”It was actually two quite good performance”, she has said afterwards.
Almost a year later, they got in touch again. ”One night in December he called me from Las Vegas and asked if he could write something for me in the ”Second Sacred Concert”, which he was preparing.” Babs said yes and arrived in New York in early January for rehearsals. But nothing was ready yet.
”I almost had a nervous breakdown”, she had said. ”I had to be some kind of co-composer because time was short and the last song was ready only two days before the concert.”