Premiered by Ellington part 1
This month, the website will focus on Ellington’s Capitol LP “Premiered by Ellington”. This 10” LP has music that is not composed by Ellington but recorded by him for the LP.
However, this first article is about Ellington’s journey from the end of his contract with RCA Victor at the end of 1946 to his period with Capitol 1953-1955. In the next articles in the series Rasmus Henriksen will take a close look at the eight songs in the 10” LP.
Farewell to RCA Victor
In November 1944, RCA settled with the American Federation of Musicians and could resume recording its artists after two years of ban. Ellington was still under contract with RCA Victor and was eager to go back to the recording studios. He did so on December 1, 1944 and the focus was on his vocalists. Al Hibler, Joya Sherrilll and Kay Davis recorded I Ain’t Got Nothin’ But The Blues, I’m Beginning to See The Light, Don’t You Know I Care and I Didn’t Know About You.
Ten days later, Ellington recorded six songs from Black, Brown and Beige – Worksong, Come Sunday, The Blues, West Indian Dance, Emancipation Celebration and Sugar Hill Penthouse – in an abbreviated format. They were issued in 1946 as a 2 12” 78s album in the Victor Showpiece series. The year thereafter RCA Victor issued another 78s album, Ellington Plays The Blues with recordings from 1946.
This was among the last of Ellington’s recordings for RCA Victor. His contract with the company expired September 3, 1946 and was not renewed.
After this, Ellington did did not have a recording contract until he signed one with Columbia from 30 July 1947. In the intermediary period he did some recording sessions for Musicraft and Capitol Radio transcriptions.
By that time, George Avakian worked full time in Columbia’s pop A&R staff and on 22 December 1947, he produced his first record with Ellington. It was On A Turquoise Cloud. Two days later, Columbia recorded The Liberian Suite, which were to be issued 10” LP. It was the first time it happened to an Ellington recording. In an article in the DESS Bulletin in 2010. “It marked the first of several long Ellington works I had the pleasure to produce”, said Avakian in an article in the DESS Bulletin 2010.
Columbia initially recorded a significant part of Ellington’s and Billy Strayhorn’s new music of the late 1940’s, but a lot was also rather ordinary pop songs aimed at the singles and jukebox market.
Ellington’s contract with Columbia was renewed for two years on 30 July 1950.
By that time, George Avakian had been put in charge of a new Popular Albums. In this position, he managed to get an Ellington recording issued in Columbia’s prestigious Masterwork series, which were meant for the best of classical music. It was titled Masterpieces By Ellington and the four tracks of this Ellington 12” LP was recorded on 18 December 1950.
The LP is one of Ellington’s absolute best albums with some extraordinary arrangements, in particular by Billy Strayhorn, with solos of the highest quality and a marvelous sound for the times – a sound that still holds up now.
It sold well enough to allow Avakian to record a follow up. It was issued as Ellington Uptown and the tracks were recorded in December 1951 and in June and July 1952. As Ellington Masterpieces, it was issued in the Masterwork series.
The first track – Louie Bellson’s Skin Deep – with effective drumming by him made the LP a particular hit for demonstrating hifi equipment. This track was actually not recorded by Columbia but by Mercer Ellington’s Mercer Records, which sold it to Columbia.
However, the two LPs did not sell well enough to please the sales people at Columba and in 1953, Ellington was fed up with the company. He felt that he was both disfavored there compared to other artists when it came to making new records and neglected by the marketing people there. So he decided to leave Columbia for Capitol Records.
Moving to Capitol
The rather dry press release announcing his departure reflects his displeasure with Columbia: “I have signed with Capitol because this firm is doing an excellent job of presenting all its artists, particularly as it concerns exploitation.”
“I want a hit ….. I want to hear Ellington records in jukeboxes”, Ellington declared, and Capitol seemed a perfect choice for this. It was very successful with its focus on hit records.
The record company was founded in 1942 by singer Johnny Mercer together with songwriter and film producer Buddy DeSylvia and businessman Glenn Wallichs. The latter owned the famous record store Wallichs Music City in Hollywood. It soon became the first West Coast based record label, which could compete with the the likes of RCA Victor, Columbia and Decca.
Originally, it started with the focus on recording vocalists but soon it widened its scope to big bands and instrumentals. By the 1950s, Capitol had become a huge label that concentrated primarily on popular music of different kinds and had a good backbone talented arrangers like Billy May and Nelson Riddle.
The band that Ellington brought with him to Capitol was certainly very different from the one that stopped recording for RCA Victor in 1946. The seven years in between had seen many changes in its composition. Only five players from that time were still in the Ellington orchestra – Ray Nance, Cat Anderson, Jimmy Hamilton, Russell Procope and Harry Carney.
By replacing those who had left or stayed only a short period with some “solid” “old-timers and experienced players of a younger generation, Ellington started – perhaps unconsciously – to build the band that would put him back into the limelight at The Newport Jazz Festival 1956 and serve him well for the rest of the 1950’s and the early 1960’s.
In 1948, Quentin Jackson came on board to be the new “plunger-muter” and Wendell Marshall replaced Junior Raglin as the bass player.
In 1950, Paul Gonsalves was brought to the band as the new tenor sax player. He took over Al Sears’ chair even if there had been a couple of other tenor saxophonists between them.
In 1951 Ellington gave the band a kick by recruiting Willie Cook and Clark Terry to the trumpet section and Britt Woodman to the trombone section.
By the time Ellington moved over Capitol, the young alto saxophone player Rick Henderson and the drummer Butch Ballard was also part of the Ellington Orchestra.
Ellington recorded his first sides for Capitol on April 6, 1953 and the first song was a new one jointly composed by Ellington and Billy Strayhorn – Satin Doll. It was issued on a single shortly after it was recorded and made it to the hit lists for a short period. Ellington also got the marketing he yearned for. At the time of the release of the single, Capitol placed an elaborate full page Ellington ad in Billboard. However, this was as close as Ellington got to a hit. None of his other recordings did as well as Satin Doll and most of them were not released as singles but as EPs or LPs.
Ellington recorded 88 songs during his 25 months with Capitol, some of them twice. Not all of them were issued at the time. And it was really a mixed bag of music.
Some were meant to be issued as singles and some in extended or long-playing formats. Some were numbers for the full orchestra, others for a vocalist at the front. Some were familiar Ellington songs recorded several times before, others were new songs from his Strayhorn’s or band members’ pens, which had not yet found their way to a recording studio. Melodies strongly associated with other big bands and well-known hits from the 1930’s were also picked for recording.
Some of the arrangements of songs recorded were done by arrangers outside the normal inner Ellington circle like Gerald Wilson, Dick Vance and Buck Clayton. One reason was apparently that Strayhorn was unhappy with the way things were moving with Ellington and stayed a little bit on the sideline for a while focusing on other things.
The result of Ellington’s 23 visits to Capitol recording studios was nine singles and five LP albums. Some of the singles were vocal numbers by Jimmy Grissom, others were the “infamous” numbers in mambo rhythm that enraged hard-core Ellington fans but there were also some good orchestra numbers.
The first LP issued was “Premiered by Ellington” (1953). It is a 10’’ LP with eight songs such as “Stormy Weather, My Old Flame, and Three Little Words, Liza and Stardust that Ellington had recorded in the 1930s (except for Liza and Stardust which is also among the songs). The record also includes a good rendition of “Flamingo”. It was as well issued as a 45 rpm two-disc EP album at the time.
The next LP issue was another 10’’ vinyl, “Duke Plays Ellington” (1954) with eight songs played by Ellington assisted by Wendell Marshall and Butch Ballard. It places the “background piano player” at the forefront and the result unveils a side of Ellington until then unknown for many fans and critics. The record was also released 1954 as a 12’’ LP with four additional songs. It is perhaps the best of the Capitol albums.
Another 1954 release of Capitol recordings was the 12’’ LP “Dance To The Duke”. This is an album of old and new Ellington songs and is together with “Duke Plays Ellington” the best album coming out of the Capitol period. It shows that the Ellington orchestra was excellent, rejuvenated as it was with the recruitment of some young skillful players in the first years of the 1950’s.
The two 1955 releases are also good ones. The “Ellington ‘55” album is a tribute to the great big bands of the swing era (including the Ellington band) but it is also a way to show that Ellington and his rejuvenated orchestra could master this kind of repertoire as well. The performances are indeed energized by new arrangements.
The final Capitol album “Ellington Showcase” is exactly this – a showcase for the skills of the soloists of the band playing some more recent Ellington (and Strayhorn) songs and arrangements.
On May 19, 1955, a small band from within the orchestra was in Capitol studio in Chicago for what was to become Ellington’s farewell session. It starts with “Discontended Blues” and ends with “So Long”. The message had been delivered and Ellington was going to move on.
Part 2 of the series, which will be published next week on 18 January, will be about My Old Flame and Three Little Words.
Author: Ulf Lundin
Discographical and goodies notes 2023-1
In the beginning of December, I published an article about DR Ellington Broadcasts program 49.
The broadcast has 11 tracks, which have not been available before. I have put the discographical information for these track together with discographical information for what has been issued before of My People.(the LP issued on the Bod Thiele’s Contact label in 1964 and Storyville’s CD “The Complete Show” published in 2012 in the attached Excel sheet.
I appreciate very much the help of Bjarne Busk to put it together. The mistakes are completely mine. I am happy to get corrections.
Portraet Af En Hertug (The Potrait of A Duke)
In 1969, a Danish team put together a television program with this title. It was a co-production between Danish and Swedish TV and was broadcasted both in Denmark and Sweden. I have had a good quality video of the program for a couple of years but now it is also available at YouTube.
The film has interviews with Duke Ellington blended with film clips from Ellington films and recordings. There are also interviews with Mercer Ellington, and Willie the Lion Smith.
Ellington specialist and DESS member Brian Koller has taken the trouble to identify the clips in the film and and provide the NDESOR identification. Here is his list:
Ellington at the Band Box in NYC 1953
This goodie was originally uploaded to the Goodies Room as a wav file on 20 December last year. A couple of days later, arranger, bandleader, DESS member and more
Hans Christian Doerrscheidt sent us a comment about pitch and glitches in the file and provided a corrected file in mp3 format. It has now replaced the original file. Thank you so much, Hans Christian.
Author: Ulf Lundin
Duke Ellington at the Band Box in NYC
4 Feb. 1953
According to New DESOR, Oscar Pettiford is the bass player on this broadcast from the Band Box in NYC, but according to other sources it might be Charlie Mingus. Who can tell? Wendell Marshall had temporarily left the band and Duke needed a good bass player until Marshall would come back.It is however confirmed that Pettiford was present two weeks later at Apollo Theatre. On this broadcast, Tony Scott was replacing Paul Gonsalves, and Hilton Jeffersson played alto.
Ray Nance from the Band Box
The bass player is clearly audible on the opening bars on Just A-Sittin’ And A-Rockin’. Maybe it is Oscar Pettiford after all? The Ellington band played at the Band Box from Jan. 30 to Feb 14, 1953. It is reported that broadcasts were occuring almost daily. In one such broadcast, Stan Getz was guest soloist. (more…)
Duke Ellington at the Civic Opera House in Chicago
Feb. 2, 1947
Civic Opera House, Chicago
Here is another live performance in which Oscar Pettiford is present. Ellington played at the Civic Opera House in Chicago a few times during Pettifords tenure with the band, and once in 1967.
Brown Penny sung by Kay Davis
On Februari 2, 1947 Duke and his Men took part in a concert at the Civic Opera House in Chicago where some selections recently recorded on Musicraft and some music that had been written for the Broadway Show, Beggar’s Holiday were played. Beggar’s Holiday was based on an 18th century British theatre play called Beggar’s Opera and was said to have resulted in a co-operation between librettist John Latouche, and Duke Ellington , but in reality Duke had very little time for the project, since he was touring with his band and could not communicate directly with Latouche. Instead, Billy Strayhorn had to fill the void, and he seems to have been the key factor in the fulfillment of the show. He wrote quite a number of new tunes for the show, which only ran for 16 weeks, due to various problems, not least financial. We can here listen to the Beggar’s Holiday Medley, which consists of Take Love Easy, When I Walk With You, Tomorrow Mountain and Brown Penny. Despite his deep involvement in creating the music for the show, Strayhorn got sadly little credit for his work, instead Duke and John Latouche got all the ovations from the media. (more…)
Floyd Levin Talks About Barney Bigard at Ellington ’91
The promoter of traditional jazz and author of many books and articles on jazz Floyd Levis were also one of the speakers on the second day of Ellington ’91. He talked about his close friend Barney Bigard at the start of the afternoon session on 14 Juni. In his presentation, he included excerps from some of the interviews he had done with Barney Bigard.
Comments on his presentation are, as always, welcome. They can be sent to me using the mailadress: email@example.com.
Author: Ulf Lundin
DR Ellington Broadcasts 49
Broadcast 49 took place on 25 April 1992. This time it was produced and presented by Fleming Sjölund Jensen
It is the the first “goodie” in December 2022 and is available in the ”Goodies” section of the website.
This time, the broadcast is focused on Duke Ellington’s show My People, which he wrote and put together for the exhibition “A Century of Negro Progress” in Chicago 16 August to 2 September 1963. It was played twice daily during the exhibition but the overall attendance was much lower than expected.
I have tried to find a copy of the program for the performance of the show but despite generous help by Kay Peterson in the Smithsoinian Archives Center I have not succeeded.
However, NDESOR lists a private recording of the performance of My People from 25 August 1963 and this should give the order in which the songs were performed. Bjarne Busk`s excellent liner notes to the Storyville release and his organisation of the CD confirms this. He sees the show to be in five parts: African background, Spiritual section, Historical section, Blues section and Modern section with the civil rights movement and the colour issues.
In the broadcast, Sjölund Jensen talks about the show and plays takes from studio recordings of the show but also a couple of live recordings from it. The studio recordings took place on 20, 21 and 27 August 1963. Ellington oversaw the recording of the show but pianist Jimmy Jones was its de facto musical director.
A selection of the studio recordings was issued on Bob Thiele’s shortlived Contact label in 1964 and reissued on his Flying Dutchman label in 1970. In both cases it was on LP. A CD with the same content as the LPs was issued by Thiele’s Red Barron label in 1992.
In 2012, Storyville Records published another CD but this time “The Complete Show”. It overlaps with the Bob Thiele’s issues but has added “fresh” material from the Danish Radio’s Mercer Ellington Collection. The CD was produced by Bjarne Busk and Anders Stefansen.
The DR 49 broadcast starts with introductory comments by Sjölund followed by part of an interview of Ellington by the NBC jounalist David Wayne in which Ellington talks about My People and what it is about.
Next Sjölund plays King Fit The Battle of Alabam recorded on 20 August 1963. He says that it is take 40 and thus different from the version on the Contact label, which is take 42 according to NDESOR. Take 42 is also on the Storyville release.
Another set of recordings of King Fit The Battle of Alabam took place the next day and one of them (take 24) is included in the Storyville CD.
The broadcasts continues with Sjölund talking more about the performance of My People and playing part of a live recording of the show from 25 August 1963. The title is unidentified but Sjölund considers that it is based on Guitar Amour. It is listed is NDESOR as this.
After this Sjölund talks about and plays After Bird Jungle recorded on 21 Aug 1963 (take 4) without saying much about it excep that it features John Lamb and Louis Belson. The same take of the tune is included in the Storyville CD.
Then Sjölund serves the listeners a blues set. It starts with The Blues Ain’t sung by Joya Sherrill and recorded on 20 August 1963 (take 25) followed by Walking and Singing The Blues sung by Lil Greenwood and recorded on 27 August 1963 (take 9) and ends with Jail Blues sung by Jimmy Grissom, which was recorded on 20 August 1963 (take 92).
The versions of The Blues and Jail Blues are not the same as those included in the Contact LP and and later in the Storyville CD. They use take 33 of The Blues and take 93 of Jail Blues according to Sjölund. Walking and Singing The Blues is not on the Contact LP but on the Storyville CD, which uses take 10.
Next Sjölund plays a short excerpt of Jungle Triangle (aka Skillipop) from the private tape mentioned above before continuing with more blues in form av I Love My Loving Lover recorded 27 August 1963 (take 19) and sung by Lil Greenwood. This version is also included in the Storyville CD. The version on Contact is take 20 according to NDESOR.
What Color Is Virtue is the final number in the show and Sjölund let us first hear a short rehearsal (take 15) in which Ellington instructs Joya Sherill how to say “..here is my kiss for you.” and an incomplete What Color Is Virtue (take 16). A complete version of What Color Is Virtue (take 18) is available on the Contact LP and on the Storyville CD
He continues with discussing if it is Joya Sherill’s daughter Richelle, who reads the monologue Purple People in the show and/or in the recording session or if it is done by someone else. Sjölund’s view seems to be that it is the daughter who reads it in the recording studio and someone else in the show. Bjarne Busk agrees with this in his liner notes to the Storyville CD. The studio reading was recorded on 21 August 1963 (take 12).
It is followed by a combined excerpt from the live recording on 25 August 1963, which starts with the reading of Deep Purple and continues with Joya Sherill singing What Color Is Virtue.
After this, we hear another part of an interview with Ellington in which he talks about My People. This interview was done by Henri Renaud and took place in Paris.
Sjölund ends the broadcast with the 21 August 1963 (take 24) version of King Fit The Battle Of Alabam (nc) which is quite different from the version heard in the beginning of the program. A complete version of the take is available on the Storyville CD.
Enjoy it and the broadcast!
Author: Ulf Lundin
Andrew Homzy at Ellington ’91
I have resumed to digitize Sjef Hoefsmit’s videos from Ellington Study Group conferences and have started with Ellington ’91 in Los Angeles. Over the next months I will publish 3-5 articles with the best presentations and panels. The rest of the videos will be uploaded to the Ellington Conferences section of the Ellington Archive.
Andrew Homzy was one of the speakers on the first day. He was originally scheduled to speak about Anatomy of a Murder but in the last minute, he changed the topic to be about some of his findings of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn manuscripts after 10 weeks of research in the Ellington Archive.
Comments on the presentation are welcome. They can be sent to me using the mailadress: firstname.lastname@example.org.
DESS Bulletin 2022-4
The new issue of the DESS Bulletin arrived in the mailbox of DESS members at the end of last week. Bo Haufman, its editor and also the chairman of DESS, has put together another interesting and informative issue.
As Bo says in his editorial, it is an issue with several themes.
The first one is Buster Cooper, who also is the cover boy this time.
In an four page article, Bo Haufman tells about his career inside and outside the Ellington orchestra.
The focus is of course Cooper’s seven years with the Ellington Orchestra from 1962 to 1969 but it is very good that Bo gives us his full story so we can better understand who he was.
An important period in Cooper’s life was when he went to New York in 1950 and enrolled in the Hartnett Scool of Music. His studies there made him a good music reader and this competence defined in many ways his career. He was an ensemble man and not much of a soloist.
This was his role in the Lionel Hampton Orchestra, which he joined in 1953 and with which he visited Sweden in September that year. On the recording from the concert in Stockholm, he is only heard in the ensembles. The trombone solo in Summertime is most likely played by Jimmy Cleveland.
Cooper joined the Ellington Orchestra on 17 June 1962. Her had rejected two earlier offers to be a member of the band but finally accepted the third one.
“Ellington certainly did not engage him as a trombone soloist but most probably because he was a good reader. In his book on Ellington’s trombonists, Kurt Dietrich describes Cooper’s style as follows: “Cooper was to develop a voice with the band unlike that of any other trombonists in the history of the band. His identity was quickly established as a blues player, but not a plunger blues player.”
Eddie Lambert says about him: “As a soloist he preferred an aggressive almost violent declamatory style on open horn.”
Haufman lists a number of Cooper solos that he considers to be the most significant. I have put some of them in a Spotify playlist with music mentioned in the new Bulletin.
When Cooper left Ellington in June 1969 he went back home to St, Petersburg in Florida. However, he did not stay there long but resettled to Los Angeles in 1973 and there he stayed for 21 years working in film- and recording studio orchestras. Haufman quotes him as having said “I was the busiest black trombonists on the West Coast.”
In 1994, Cooper returned to St. Petersburg and there he played for 17 years at jazz clubs in and around the town, often together with the bassist John Lamb, who had played in the Ellington Orchestra at the same time as he. Cooper left the earthly world in 2016.
The second theme is views on Ellington and his music and examples of this are given in three articles.
One is from the Swedish magazine Filmjournalen, where its filmcritic Stig Almqvist writes about Ellington’s upcoming 1939 tour of Sweden. The article is interesting particularly because it reflects the view in the upper social echelons of the Swedish society of the time on film and jazz . There is “a primitive audience for jazz as there is for film, he says and continues “both jazz and film are turned towards the big masses and satisfy in its low non-artistic form particularly young people from the social strata which not at all or only rarely have been confronted with artistic products.”
However, Almqvist admits that like in film, there is occurrences in jazz that combine popularity and music of high artistic level. “Foremost in this group is Duke Ellington” he says and goes on to talk about Ellington’s visit and his music.
The article is illustrated with one photo of the full orchestra posing in The Hague just before parting for Sweden and two photos from Ellington’s Swedish tour – one with the whole orchestra in front of a bus and another with Johnny Hodges, Juan Tizol, Barney Bigard and Sonny Greer.
Another article in this part of the Bulletin is about Ellington’s stop-over in Holland before heading for Stockholm by train on 10th April. It is written by Mark Berresford and was originally published in the Spring 2000 issue of his Vintage Jazz Mart. It gives a detailed account of Ellington’s and the orchestra’s criss-crossing of France, Belgium and Holland to give concerts and have a long report from the concert in The Hague on 8th April.
It is written J.P. Gussenhoven, a former president of the Dutch Jazz League, and is very detailed account full of comments and views of what was played at the concert on 8th April. I think on can suppose that the same repertoire was played at the concerts in Sweden.
The third article is a reprint of an article in the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter published sometime in 1944. The anonymous article is written by someone knowledgable about Ellington and respectful of him. It gives a lot of information about Ellington to the readers of Dagens Nyheter and should have made many of them interested in learning more about him.
The third theme is Ellington compositions and this time it is about Solitude. It has a condensed reprint from Mike Zirpolo’s invaluable blog Swing & Beyond (https://swingandbeyond.com). Zirpolo starts by writing about the turmoil in the American record industry in the early 1930’s, which led Ellington to record for Victor “mid-August 1933 to mid-September 1934”. He then left Victor for the American Record Corporation (ARC).
Under his Victor contract, Ellington recorded Solitude “on January 10, 1934 and a remake of it as his first tune with ARC “on September 13, 1934”. By that time Victor had not released the January 10 recording. It only did so “until “November 7, 1934. However Zirpolo’s description of Solitude in his article is the Victor record. It is available on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAdSUi3rSG4) and included in the Spotify playlist with music mentioned in the new Bulletin.
Bo Haufman gives additional information about recordings of Solitude in a separate article.
Other articles by his hand in the new issue are about Timme Rosencrantz, Ellington’s appearances at the Newport Jazz Festival and Lena Junoff. They are all good reading!
DESS member Göran Axelsson has another article on Ellington in social media. This time it is about Ellington on Facebook and Göran tells about the most important Ellington groups there.
Dogwood Hollow, Stony Brook, 18 July 1958, Part 2
Some years ago, I got a parcel from the late Sjef Hoefsmit. The contents was a CD, with some notable recordings with the Ellington orchestra where Oscar Pettiford was the basist, outside his regular role (1945-48) with Duke. I believe this should be of interest to the DESS-members, and the webbsite has therefor decided to make this music available to DESS’ members in the the Goodies Room.
It is a concert at Stony Brook in 1958 and we published the first part of it a couple of weeks ago.. Now we offer the second par of the concert for DESS members listening. Other parts will be presented in December and Januari respectively.
Before Oscar started with Duke Ellington he had a thorough reputation as a bass player with the then young Beboppers such as Gillespie, Monk, and Kenny Clarke but he had also played with Ben Webster and Coleman Hawkins. When he joined the Ellington band in 1945 he continued in the row of brilliant bass players tha started with Jimmy Blanton and continued with Junior Raglin. He was also an accomplished cello player. which he showed from time to time. After his tenure with Ellington he was very active in various jazz groups, ranging from small bands to big bands, such as Thelonious Monk’s and Woody Herman’s. He also played with his own groups. In 1958 he moved to Copenhagen and there he died in 1960, at 38 years of age, from a virus disease.
Johnny Hodges at Dogwood Hollow playing Violet Blue
Back to the concert at Dogwood Hollow
The following numbers are played:
*Take The A Train*Such Sweet Thunder*Violet Blue*All Of Me*St Louis BluesBill Bailey*Walkin’ And Singin’ The Blues*Hi Fi Fo Fum (nc)*Hi Fi Fo Fum*Medley:Do’t Get Around Much Anymore/Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me/In A SentimentMood Indigo/I’m Beginning To See The Light/Sophisticated Lady/Caravan/I Got It Bad/Just Squeeze Me/It Don’t Mean A Thing*
Go to the Goodies Room and the second part of the concert
We hope you will enjoy it!
Blue Light Autumn 2022
The latest issue of Blue Light is with its 52 pages full of good reading thanks to the hard and creative work of the editor Gareth Evans.
As in the previous issue, the major contributions come from Roger Boyes, Fred Glueckstein and Gareth Himself.
Roger Boyes continues his series on Ellington in the Forties. This time he writes about Ellington’s 1948 Carnegie Hall concert, which took place on 13 November 1948. A complete recording of the concert was issued on a double CD album by Vintage Jazz Classics (VJC) in 1991, and with the help of the two CDs and its liner notes by Andrew Homzy, Boyes goes through the concert song by song and gives his own comments intertwined with those of Homzy. He also make comparisons to the concert at Cornell University a month later with almost the same program. This concert is also available on CD.
A very valuable element of the article is Boyes’ comments on how long the music of the concert stayed in Ellington’s repertoire. He classifies 17 of the 31 pieces of the concert as “rarities”, that is melodies that disappeared from the Ellington repertoire rather soon after the concert. Boyes’ personal favourites from the concert are Lady of the Lavender Mist, She Wouldn’t Be Moved and Lush Life. Out of the many premieres at the concert, he singles out The Tattooed Bride and writes rather extensively about it.
Fred Glueckstein also writes about a Carnegie Hall Concert but the first one in January 1943. It is a rather descriptive article but full of information. It covers among other things the origins of the 1943 concert, foremost Black, Brown and Beige, the National Ellington Week, the plaque Ellington received at the concert and the reviews of the concert. Of course, Glueckstein also writes about the program of the concert. He lists the official program, which each person who attended the concert received, and gives the changes to it in the actual performance.
Another contribution by Glueckstein in the new Blue Light issue is a continuation of the article about Qeenie Pie that started in the previous issue. This time he writes with a lot of details about the performances of Queenie Pie, particularly its World Premiere in Philadelphia 18 September 1986, the following performance in October at the Eisenhower Theatre in Kennedy Centre in Washington D.C. and the failed efforts to bring it to Broadway. The next article of Qeenie Pier will be about the staging of the opera at “opera theatres and university musical departments around the country”.
Gareth Evans‘ eight page article “If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em” is about how Ellington connected to rock ‘n’ roll music in the 1960’s and early 1970’s and it is one that breaks a lot of new ground.
The title of the article is also the name of a Gerry Mulligan album from 1965 with rock ‘n’ roll covers.
“If we were to collect all of the titles that were recorded with the band and which showed the influence of rock ‘n roll music we would probably have enough of material for a double lp”, says Evans, and he does his outmost in his article to give us examples of such titles.
Was Ellington’s performance at the Newport Jazz Festival 7 October 1956 with Paul Gonsalves his first rock and roll performance? Evans seems to be a little bit ambivalent about this but to a fifteen year old boy jumping around in the family living room together with his friends while listening to the newly issued Philips LP with the concert, it certainly was.
For Evans, “Duke’s first remediated attempt at recording a rock and roll number came a year later when he recorded Cop Out and Rock City Rock”. Perhaps but not everyone might agree.
His most interesting and convincing examples are those at the end of the article like the Beatle songs All My Lovin’ and I Want to Hold Your Hand, the rocky Blue Pepper in Far East Suite Suite, Didgeridoo in Afro Eurasian Eclipse with its late “exotic” manners , Chico Cuadradino in Latin American Suite, Wild Big Davis’ rhythm and blues like Luv and the soul-influenced One More Time For The People.
At the end of his rich and interesting article Evans says: “In the final analysis, it must be concluded that Duke maintained a general interest in rock ‘n’ roll but in a similar way to his relationship with bop, always kept it somewhat at an arm’s length: he neither beat or joined ’em.”
Besides these three articles, the new issue has a very substantial section with reviews of the many concerts with Ellington music in England, review of bokks and quite a lot of shorter articles.
Get it and read it!