Jack Chambers is professor at the University of Toronto, and an author and teacher on music and language He is a longtime contributor to the Globe and Mail (Toronto), Coda magazine, and other journals, and a regular presenter at the Toronto Duke Ellington Society and other conferences. His books on jazz include the prize-winning biography Milestones: The Music and Times of Miles Davis (1998), The Incomplete Works of Richard Twardzik (2008), and Sweet Thunder: Duke Ellington’s Music in Nine Themes (2019).
At Ellington 2022, he will talk about Buried Treasures: Gems Left on the Shelf. Here is the abstract of his presentation.
“In 1933, an English interviewer asked Duke Ellington about his “personal favourite” composition. Ellington replied, “The things I’ve liked best I’ve often left on the shelf….”
Though more than a thousand of Ellington’s compositions are preserved in well-wrought studio recordings, dozens of others were performed in concerts at least once but never recorded. These “shelved” compositions are less well known, and in some instances forgotten.
From these dozens, I have selected five gems. For a composer less prolific than Ellington, they might have been considered masterpieces. For him, they were incidental music, but dramatic evidence of his irrepressible muse.”