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Ellington’s 1965 European tour lasted from January 25 to February 28. It started in France where Duke and the orchestra performed in Paris, and Lyon. They then went north, first to Copenhagen (Denmark) and then to Sweden for concerts in Lund, Malmö and Stockholm. After stops in Germany and Switzerland, the tour ended with two weeks of concerts (and a telecast) in England from February 13 to February 28.
There were some changes in the orchestra compared to the one that toured Europe in 1964. Ernie Shepard and Rolf Ericson were not longer with the band. John Lamb became the bass player in August 1964, Ray Nance returned to the band for 6 months in January 1965 and Mercer Ellington also joined the trumpet section at about the same time.
Contrary to what was said by many reviewers, the concert program was quite different from the 1964 one. HARLEM was replaced by BLACK and Ad Lip on Nippon was selected from Far East Suite instead of Amad, Agra, Blue Bird of Delhi, Depk and Isfahan.
In the category that critics call “we have heard it before”, new for the 1965 tour was among others Midriff, Chelsea Bridge, Jump for Joy, Passion Flower and Afro Bossa. Jungle Kitty (aka Meow) was brand new composition for Cat Anderson by Ellington and Strayhorn.
So all in all, it was an interesting repertoire. However, the problem was that it was not always well performed. The scandals in this respect in the beginning of the tour marred the overall impression.
This article we focus on Ellington’s concerts in Copenhagen and Stockholm but also cover what happened in between them.
The concert in Copenhagen took place on 31 January. There was only one concert and it started at 19:30 (7:30 PM) local time.
The concert took place in concert hall of Falkoner Centret in the Frederiksberg district of Copenhagen, which was inaugerated in 1958.
The whole concert was filmed by Danish Radio Television and almost all of it was telecasted on 21 June 1965 as Hertugen og hans mænd (The Duke and his Men). It is one of the few recording with a (almost) complete concert from the tour.
The telecast has also been issued on DVD by the American Quantum Leap company and the DVD is most likely the source of the two videos with the concert available on YouTube.
Missing from the telecast (and video) are Solitude, Jam with Sam, Take the “A” Train (theme) and Dancers in Love. They came after Ray Nance’s encore He Huffed ‘n’ Puffed.
Solitude was sung by Bea Benjamin accompanied by her husband Dollar Brand (aka Abdullah Ibrihim), Cootie Williams, Russell Procope, John Lamb and Sam Woodyard. Brand and Benjamin had an engagement at Montmartre – the famous jazz club in Copenhagen – at the time of the concert and they were friends with Ellington since he recorded them for Reprise in Paris in February 1963.
After this, the orchestra was back to end the concert with Jam with Sam and Take the “A” Train.
NDESOR and Ellingtonia (ellingtonia.com) also lists Dancers in Love played by Ellington accompanied by John Lamb. Possibly this was an encore but it is a little bit of a mystery. It is not mentioned in any reviews of the concert and was not played at any other concert during the tour.
Part of the concert was also broadcast by Danish Radio in a two parts series – Duke Ellington in Copenhagen. The first was aired on 22 February 1965. DESOR (volume 1963-1965) lists eight songs from the concert and Erik Wiedeman says they were what was broadcast by Danish Radio.
Click on the photos to get them larger.
Danish newspapers covered the concert well and quickly but it is sad that the concert could be labelled The Sleepy Gonsalves concert.
Several reviews gave quite some attention to the fact that Paul Gonsalves went into deep sleep at the beginning of the concert and several other times during it as can be seen in the video. But as Berlingske Tidenes reported, after the concert Gonsalves was fit to go to the Montmarte jazz club to listen to and play with Ben Webster.
The Swedish jazz critic and Ellington fan Leif Anderson also attended the concert and commented on it in an review of the concerts in Copenhagen, Lund and Malmö in the March issue in the Swedish jazz magazine Orkesterjournalen.
Here is his full review together with one by Bertil Sundin for the Stockholm concert.
From Copenhagen, Ellington and his band went to Malmö for concerts in Lund and Malmö. They were organised by the young promoter Bo Jonsson, 24 years old at the time, who was to organise many other Ellington concerts in Malmö.
Ellington stayed at the elegant Kramer Hotel right in the centre of Malmö. There he run int Arthur Fiedler, who stayed at the same hotel and was in town to conduct the Malmö Symphony Orchestra. (Leif Andersson)
The concert venue in Lund was the Main Hall in Akademiska Föreningen. It was scheduled to start at 19:30 (7:30 PM) but was seriously delayed since Sam Woodyard never appeared and Johnny Hodges Jr. had to step in and take over the drummer’s tasks. It must have been a total disaster for the arrangers and for Ellington but reviewers were rather calm about it and also about the fact that Gonsalves slept during most of the concert in Lund.
According to Lars Weck – Dagens Nyheter’s jazz critic – Ellington performed Ad Lib on Nippon, Paul Gonsalves woke up to solo in Chelsea Bridge and Johnny Hodges played Passion Flower, Things Ain’t What They Used To Be and Jeep’s Blues.
From Lund, the band went back to Malmö for a late night concert at Stadsteatern (Malmö City Theatre). It seems that it became a rather improvised concert again since Sam Woodyard was late. While waiting for him, Ellington recited Pretty and the Wolf. Once Woodyard was in place, some of the program from Copenhagen must have been performed but which parts? In his review, Leif Andersson says that Lawrence Brown played Serenade to Sweden as an encore, that Russell Procope did a solo on his alto sax in Jump for Joy and that Buster Cooper had a solo in C Jam Blues.
From Malmö, Ellington and the orchestra went to Stockholm. Norman Granz and his Swedish representatives Karusell Konsertbyrå had advertised the two concerts well in advance in newspapers and with posters but surprisingly not in Orkesterjournalen.
The first concert started at 19:00 local time (7 PM) and the second at 21:00 (9 PM). The concert venue was Konserthuset (Stockholm Concert Hall) in the centre of Stockholm. Both concerts were well attended, one reviewer even says they were sold out.
The length of the concerts is not known but it seems likely that they lasted around 1hour and 30 minutes. Readers who knows more about this, please contact the web editor.
NDESOR lists nine tunes except the opening and ending Take the “A” Train theme (DE6510 b-j) but this is only what was included in a broadcast by Swedish Radio, and not a full concert. Most likely it is edited from the second concert.
Here is a teaser from the broadcast.
DESS members can listen to and download the broadcast in the Goodies Room.
The broadcast starts with the station announcement in Swedish followed by an introduction by the presenter Olle Helander. He was responsible for jazz programs on Swedish Radio since the early 1950’s and a well-known voice presenting them.
After the theme and intro (Take the “A” Train), Ellington announces Afro-Bossa (aka Boola). This is a carry-over from 1963 and was often played during the 1963-66 period but disappeared after that from the band’s repertoire.
The Opener follows with the familiar line-up of soloists: Paul Gonsalves, Buster Cooper and Cat Anderson, then Paul Gonsalves is featured in the beautiful Chelsea Bridge.
On the 1965 European tour, Ellington re-introduced Worksong, Come Sunday and Light (Montage) from the 1st movement of Black, Brown & Beige.
In Paris and Copenhagen, he had also presented Ad Lib On Nippon from Far East Suite. It is not included in this broadcast but was most likely featured in the two Stockholm concerts.
Passion Flower and Things Ain’t What They Used To Be, which are solo numbers for Johnny Hodges, are played next before Cootie Williams gets into the lime-light with Tutti For Cootie.
Based on what is in the radio program and input from people who attended the concert like DESS’ former president Leif Jönsson, it is rather likely that the following music was played during the concerts.
Take The “A” Train (theme), Midriff, Afro-Bossa, The Opener, Chelsea Bridge, A Lib On Nippon – Fugi, Iggo, Nagoya, Tokyo, Black – Worksong, Come Sunday, Light (Montage), Passion Flower, Things Ain’t What They Used To Be, Jump for Joy, Tutti For Cootie and Take the “A” Train (theme).
Songs in italics have to be confirmed. Please send comments to the web editor.
Review of the concerts appeared in daily newspapers and in Orkesterjounalen (OJ). There were distinctly different. One view was represented by Leif Andersson (OJ), Hans Friedlund (Aftonbladet) and Lars Weck (Dagens Nyheter). They were the positiv ones.
The other group with Ludwig Rasmussen (Svenska Dagbladet) and Bertil Sundin (OJ) was the negative one.
The Swedish cinematographer and cinema teacher, Roland Sterner, attended one of the concerts and took many interesting photos, which have been made available to the website. He was trained by the famous Swedish photographer Christer Strömholm, was film photographer for many years, teacher at Dramatiska Institutet etc.
Click on the photos to have them shown in a larger format.
This kind of article is always a work in progress. Therefore, comments, corrections and additions to the article are most welcome.
Authors: Ulf Lundin and Anders Asplund. Press research: Sven-Erik Baun Christensen, Ulf Lundin, Göran Axelsson, Leif Jönsson.
Tomorrow, it is 78 years ago since Duke Ellington and his orchestra ended the 1939 tour of Sweden with a concert at the Stockholm Concert Hall. The concert was also part of the celebration of Ellington’s 40th birthday – a celebration that started in the early morning.
During the tour, Ellington made three appearances in Stockholm – on April 16 and 29 at the Stockholm Concert Hall and on April 24 at the Royal Academy of Music.
Someone took a photo during one of the concerts at the Concert Hall – possibly the one on April 16 – and the website is happy to be able to publish it thanks to Jan Bruér.
Another photo giving a full overview of the main hall of the Concert Hall was published in the May 1939 issue of Orkesterjournalen.
The review in Orkesterjournalen of the April 16 concert is available here and in the Ellington Archive/Articles.
Rolf Dahlgren – then a young and aspiring journalist – reviewed the concert for the socialist daily Folkets Dagblad and it was reprinted in the DESS Bulletin in 2012. Also this review is available here and in the Ellington Archive/Articles.