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Strayhorn-serie på Sveriges Radio (2)

Det andra programmet i Jan Bruérs serie om Billy Strayhorn sändes den 13 september 1977 och har fokus på 50-och 60-talen. Det slutar med Strayhorns sista komposition Blood Count.

Dessförinnan låter Jan lyssnarna höra bl.a. Drawing Room Blues, Watch Your Cue, Strange Feeling, Star-Crossed Lovers, Grace Valse och Blue Bird of Delhi

Under sommaren planerar vi att låta DESS’ medlemmar lyssna till en annan Ellingtonserie av Jan Bruér medan de kopplar av i hängmattan. Serien heter Hertigens spelmän och som namnet säger handlar den om olika medlemmar av Ellingtons orkester.

Strayhorn-serie på Sveriges Radio (1)

Förra året publicerade webbplatsen Jan Bruérs och Lars Westins programserie på Sveriges Radio om Duke Ellington och hans musik. Alla tio programmen finns tillgängliga för DESS’ medlemmar här.

Idag presenterar vi det första av två program om Billy Strayhorn, som Jan Bruér ställt samman. Programmet sändes den 6 september 1977.

Det första programmet har naturligtvis fokus på Strayhorns tidiga samarbete med Ellington men ger också exempel på när de sitter ner vid pianot tillsammans.

Musiken i program är bl.a. Something To Live For, Blues A-Poppin’, Flamingo, Chelsea Bridge, Passion Flower, Midriff och Lotus Blossom. Tyvärr är bandet med radioinspelningen skadat mot slutet av Midriff.

Chelsea Bridge

Chelsea Bridge was one of the songs Billy Strayhorn wrote in 1940 when he and Mercer Ellington were called upon by Ellington to write new material for the band following the boycott by the radio stations of songs licensed by ASCAP.

In his biography on Strayhorn, David Hajdu describes “Chelsea Bridge” as “more Debussy than Ellington. It is classical’ in its integration of melody and harmony as an organic whole.

Strayhorn himself has said that “Chelsea Bridge” was “an impressionistic miniature composed with a painting by James McNeill Whistler in mind.

The first appearance of “Chelsea Bridge” in the Ellington discography is the dance date at Casa Manana in Culver City, California on February 16, 1941 but probably it was performed several times during the engagement there from Jan. 3 to Feb 20 1941.

Chelsea Bridge, Febr. 16, 1941

Chelsea Bridge was recorded for Standard Transcriptions on September 17, 1941 and for RCA-Victor on September 26 and December 2, 1941.

In his quite wonderful book “ Something to Live For, The Music of Billy Strayhorn”, Walter van de Leur laments that there is no readily available recording of the Ellington band playing the full score of Chelsea Bridge.

In a note on page 207 of his book, he mentions that an “unissued broadcast from the Casa Manana, Culver City” is “the only known full recording of Chelsea Bridge by the Ellington Orchestra.

Later recordings … use different parts of the manuscript.  The recording of June 30, 1945 (“Your Saturday Date with the Duke” broadcast issued on Duke Ellington Treasury Series 12) moves after the bridge of the third chorus into Something to Live For.”

Chelsea Bridge June 30, 1945

Since I didn’t have the unissued recording, I decided to listen to the DETS recording.  I went to my cd collection and pulled out the Storyville DETS Vol. 12.

Indeed there is a version of Chelsea Bridge as part of a  “group of three Billy Strayhorn compositions” wherein the band does go from Chelsea Bridge to Something to Live For but with a bond promo in between.  However,  Chelsea Bridge is quite long. It lasts 5 minutes and sounds a lot like van de Leur’s description of the complete composition.

Chelsea Bridge Sep. 8 1945

I then realized that I had been listening to a different version of “Chelsea Bridge” than the one van de Leur was referring to in his note. When he said “DETS  Series  12”, he meant LP no. 12 in the original LP series, not Vol. 12 in the Storyville series. The one Walter was referring to is on Vol. 7 in this series and is much shorter than the one on Vol 12.

So I decided to contact him and ask for his comment. Here is what he replied.

“Thanks for this. Indeed, the full score, fantastic. Duke opens, but Strays takes over from the first chorus. It confirms that he had some composed piano parts as I had figured.”

So small misunderstandings can sometimes lead to something interesting.

Author: Joe Medjuck




DR Ellington Broadcasts (13)

The 13th Ellington program broadcasted by the Danish Radio in the mid-1980s based on the Mercer Ellington donation is the third “Goodie” for the month of February.


As usual, it is available in the “Goodies of the Month” section of the DESS Lobby (DESS-rummet).

It was broadcasted on February 22, 1985 and this time the program presenter was Bjarne Busk. He use the program to bring the listerners more of the interviews he had done with Mercer Ellington and composer/arranger Billy Moore when preparing the Danish Radio Ellington broadcasts.

The program starts with a section on “Take The “A” Train”. After a short excerpt of the first take of tune from the “stockpile session” on March 29, 1966, Billy Moore tells Busk a little story on how  “Take The “A” Train” come about. Then take 3 from the stockpile session is played.

Next, Mercer Ellington has some interesting things to say about Duke as a piano player before Moore and Mercer tells Busk about Billy Strayhorn and “Portrait of Pea” from January 5, 1966 is heard.

The program ends with five selections from the January 14, 1964 broadcast from Basin Street East, including Strayhorn playing and singing “Lush Life”.




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