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DR Ellington Broadcasts 47
Broadcast 47 took place on 25 June, 1991. As the previous broadcast on 28 May 1991, it was produced and presented by Fleming Sjølund-Jensen.
It is the the first “goodie” in March 2022 and is available in the ”Goodies” section of the website.
This time, the program is a broadcast of a full concert – Ellington’s second concert in Uppsala in the late evening of 9 November 1971.
At the time of the DR broadcast, this concert had not been issued commercially but it had been broadcasted on Swedish Radio so many collectors had it on tape.
Since then, Storyville has issued the concert on CD. It did it in the summer of 2019 and the website published a long article about it on 11 August 2019. We also made the first concert available to DESS members in a follow up article on 20 November 2019.
However, even if the concert is widely available we have decided to publish an article also about broadcast 47 to have have covered all Danish Radio’s Ellington program when the series ends in some monnths.
The program starts with Love You Madly sung by Nell Brooksire. It is not from the Uppsala concert but from a stockpile recording session on 3 February, 1971.
Ken Steiner – The TDES Sequel
In the beginning of this month, we published Ken Steiner’s Zoom presentation last year to TDES about Ellington 1941. Due to technical problems, this presentation had to be cut short and Ken did not get the opportunity to talk about and play Salute To Canada Lee and Billy Strayhorn’s Raincheck.
Last week, we arranged a Zoom meeting with Ken in which he did it.
In the Salute To Canada Lee broadcast, Ellington plays two songs from Jump For Joy, which was to open a week later.
Raincheck is the Victor version from 2 Dec, 1941 with Strayhorn himself is at the piano. Enjoy!
DESS Ellington Meeting 2022
As announced last month, there will be a virtual DESS Ellington Meeting also this year.
It is organized by the editor of the website on behalf of DESS and with the support of a Program Committee.
The Meeting will take place on April 25, 26, 28 and 29 on Zoom. The language will be English as last year.
The program is ready and available in the Ellington Meeting section of the website.
12 speakers from different strata of the international Ellington community have agreed to make presentations. They will cover areas such as Duke Ellington and Leonard Bernstein, Ellington Medleys, Ellington’s Experimentation Techniques in New Orleans Suite, Boola, Dance to the Dukeand many more.
Registration will open on March 3.
Ellington At 50
Ellington turned 50 during his three weeks engagement at the Paramount Theater at Times Square in New York 20 April to 10 May 1949.
There are no traces of a big birthday party for him. It seems to have been just a normal working day with six performances to give.
However, in the breaks between the performances, Barry Ulanov interviewed him extensively for Metronome and the result was a three-page article published in the June issue of the magazine.
Judging from the article, Ulanov and Ellington talked about many things during the interviews.
One of them was the musical Ellington was working on with producer and lyricist/composer Sid Kuller to the theme of the route of the ‘A’ Train of the Independant Subway System in New York. “Oh, yes”, Ellington said according to Ulanov, “the band must play an important part in it. That’s our gimmick. To put a new sound into a Broadway theatre”.
The musical never materialized but perhaps there traces of it in the Ellington Archive at the Smithsonian?
Another topic was bebop. “Of course, bop’s in the air and naturally some people hear a little bit of it in our music”, Ellington says in the interview, “they thought there were some bop influences in The Tatooed Bride. Anyhow, I thought we offered a new departure in it.”
Ellington also commented on Charlie Parker. “He is just a great instrumentalist who’s been put in a category and just to oblige he may make a couple of bop statements here and there. But Charlie’s an individual. That’s not bop.”
Ulanov brought up atonality and counterpoint. “You know”, Ellington said about this, “the normal trends of jazz lead you lead so far from it that you can only indulge your interest in counterpoint for your own personal kicks ….. I like to do counterpoint, like it a lot.”
They also talked about the routining of musicals. “The secret of any dramatic art is routining” Ellington says in the article. “When the first show doesn’tgo over, you haven’t got a a week in New Haven and two in Philadelphia to straighten it out. You have got four or five more to do that day and six more tough days to go and you get it right by the second or third show or you are bust.”
The full article is available to DESS members in the section Articles in the Ellington Archive.
A Duke Ellington video montage (2)
Today, DESS members can find a new video montage in the Goodies Room.
But all visitors to the website can watch Take The A Train from the movie Reveille With Beverly (above).
The montage in the Goodies Room includes the following:
1. The Perfume Suite – A short film by George Pal from 1946, described in detail by Klaus Stratemann in his book Duke Ellington Day by Day and Film by Film.
2. “Rehearsal” in Paris during the band’s summer tour in Europe in of 1950. This is an extremely rare footoge. It is possible to identify a number of sidemen that did not stay with the orchestra very long, for example Ernie Royal (brother of Marshall Royal, the Basie lead alto), Alva McCain, Nelson Williams and others. The first 10-15 seconds you will hear the sound only.
3. A short presentation of Such Sweet Thunder by Ellington and actor Tyrone Power from Oct 13 1957. The second part of this is a medley of “popular hits”.
4. El Viti played by Cat Anderson from Teatro Lirico in Milan Jan. 30 1966
5. Ed Sullivan Show, March 7, 1965. Ella Fitzgerald sings Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me
6. Ellington visits the Dean Martin Show on June 26, 1966 and plays the piano
Ken Steiner – Ellington in 1941
Last year, Ken Steiner was invited by TDES to make a Zoom presentation for its members and other interested.
He chose Ellington in 1941 as topic and covered particularly Jimmie Blanton, Ivie Anderson and Jump For Joy in his presentation. It is a very good and well prepared presentation.
Unfortunately, there were some problems with the Zoom cast, particularly with the music parts. The website has got the permission from TDES and Ken to try to fix the issues with the video of the presentation and the result is below.
Feedback is welcomed!
DR Ellington Broadcasts (46)
Program 46 was broadcasted on May 28, 1991. It was produced and presented by Fleming Sjølund-Jensen.
It is the the first “goodie” this month and is available in the ”Goodies” section of the website.
The program starts with Love You Madly sung by Milt Grayson. It is from the March 19, 1962 stockpile session when Grayson recorded four songs.
In addition to Love You Madly, they are Solitude, You Better Know and There’s No One But You. The last song was made popular by Mills Brothers in the mid-1940’s and was apparently composed by Austen Croom-Johnson and Red Evans. Nothing from the session has been issued on vinyl or CD.
Next Sjølund-Jensen turns to the recording session July 18, 1966 when Ellington together with John Lamb and Sam Woodyard recorded six songs, which was later included in the album The Pianist.
However, he does not let the listeners hear any of the songs but focuses on the second part of the session when Ellington recorded Tingling Is A Happiness and Dancers in Love and a congratulatory talk to be included in an exclusive record for the participants in the 50 anniversary conference of Field Enterprises Educational Corporation
Sjølund-Jensen continues the broadcast with six selections from August 27, 1972. They are all issued on the Storyville CD An Intimate Piano Session (1018445)
He starts with a short version of I’m Afraid Of Loving You Too Much followed by what Sjølund-Jensen says is an unnamed improvisation but in discographies said to be The Anticipation from UWIS Suite and after that Le Sucrier Velours from Queen’s Suite.
Next in the broadcast is Come Sunday sung by Tony Watkins – in English and in Hebrew – and two more piano numbers by Ellington – first A Mural From Two Perspectives and then the Strayhorn composition My Little Brown Book, which someone asks him to play. Finally he does it but very reluctantly. “I don’t know it! I don’t remember it!”
After this, Sjølund-Jensen moves to the September 5, 1972 stockpile session, which is for Anita Moore accompanied by a tentet from the full Ellington orchestra.
In the broadcast one hears her sing New York, New York, I Got It Bad, I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart and Misty. In the last one, Moore is accompanied only by Ellington, Joe Benjamin and Rufus Jones. None of the songs have been issued on vinyl or CD.
The broadcast ends with a version of Take The “A” Train (nc) played by Ellington, Jeff Castlemans and Rufus Jones at Ellington’s concert at Stanford University with California Youth Symphony Orchestra on March 9, 1969. This is also unissued.
New Year at Blue Note
Tonight a year comes to its end and a new year starts. Traditionally, it is a night of celebration and festivities and the website likes to offer something special this year as well.
To avoid all the covid-19 restrictions in place and ensure that you stay healthy, we will do it by transporting you back in time and place. We will go back to 31 December 1952/1 January 1953 and visit Frank Holzfiend’s Blue Note club in downtown Chicago.
At that time, it was still located at 56 W Madison Street. For many years, Duke Ellington (like Count Basie and Benny Goodman) had summer and winter engagements there.
In 1952/1953, Ellington had a two-week engagement, which started on 19 December 1952 and ended on 1 January 1953. He was regularly broadcasted over the NBC network and some of the broadcasts have been preserved.
This is the case of the broadcast of the early morning of 1 January 1953. Let’s imagine that we are sitting at the bar together, waiting for the band to come back after the break.
Everything is prepared for the broadcast. Duke strolls on stage, sits down at the piano and now it starts.
When the broadcast is over, you will have heard the Take The “A” Train theme followed by Fancy Dan, My Little Brown Book, Bensonality, The Hawk Talks, Creole Love Call, All of Me, Smada and How High The Moon (a few bars).
With this, we wish you A Happy Year and hope that you will support the website and the DESS Bulletin by joining Duke Ellington Society of Sweden (DESS).
Anders and Ulf
Smått & Gott/Bits & Pieces Dec 2021-2
Before the summer, DESUK distributed to its members the CD Who Knows with Brian Priestley and a small group playing “least studied and least ‘covered’ pieces” of Ellington music. It was originally issued in 2003 on the English 33 Jazz label (33jazz184).
The CD was recorded on 21 July and 8 October, 2003 when Brian gathered Bruce Adams trumpet, Frank Griffith saxophone and clarinet, Simon Woolf bass and Steve Brown drums in Clown’s Pocket, Bexley to record 16 Ellington songs in different constellations – solo, trio, quartet and quintet.
Fellow musician Derek Nash was responsible for recording, mixing, editing and mastering and he did an excellent job.
It seems that the solo, trio and quartet with Frank Griffith tracks were recorded on 21 July and the rest on 8 October when Bruce Adams was added to the group.
The music selected for the CD is a mix of fairly well-known Ellington compositions and songs played by Ellington and/or the band only once or a couple of times.
What Are You Gonna Do (1915), Who Knows (1953) and Blue Pepper (1966) belongs to this category. East, East By East could be added to it because it is of Ellington’s hand but never performed by him.
Among the more well-known Azure, Don’t You Know I Care, Johnny Come Lately and Lotus Blossom.
Common to all songs is that Brian with his arrangements has given them new life. Ellington’s (or Strayhorn’s) music has rarely been heard like this.
Three of the tracks are solos by Brian (Azure, After All, Lotus Blossom), 4 are trios (Who Knows, Johnny Come Lately, Searchin’, What Are You Gonna Do), three are quartets (Don’t You Know Are Care, Almost Cried, Perdido) and the rest quintets (Blue Pepper, Hand Me Down Love, My Love, East, East By East, That’s What He Says).
Here is my 25 minutes interview of Brian about the CD. In it, you can hear Who Knows and East, East By East with Brian’s comments on them.
To get the CD, one has to be a member of DESUK but it might have run out of CDs by now. Please contact Gareth Evans (firstname.lastname@example.org), the new Blue Light, and ask about this.
Steven Bowie’s Ellington Reflections (https://ellingtonreflections.com) is one of the indispensable websites for anyone interested in Duke Ellington. Steven himself says that it is a celebration of the World of Ellingtonia and all of its many facets.
The website with blogs about Ellington’s music, his orchestra and its band members was launched back in 2017 and has a large number of followers from all over the world.
So far, Steven has produced 65 blogs. The latest one is about Ellingtonian’s Playing Ellington.
Thanks to the work of DESS member Göran Axelsson, the website recently got an index with direct links to the blogs. Actually, there are two indexes, one chronological and one alphabetical by title.
In addition to the blogs, the website also has three lists of recommendations – Books, Recordings and Videos.
The format of the posts is more or less all the same. First comes the blog (i.e the audiofile), then a text about the topic with photos and scores, and finally a list of the albums played in the blog.
I recently interviewed Steven about his work with the website and what he wants to achieve with it.
In addition to Ellington Reflections, Steven is also working on a biography on Cootie Williams. “Williams was an giant of the trumpet; yet despite his stature in the jazz world, no one has previously written a full length biography.” So Steve has taken on the task to write one.
This is reflected in his presence on Facebook where he runs a Cootie Williams group. Steven also contributed to the Ellington Meeting 2021 with a presentation on Williams.
During his college years, he was teaching assistant for the legendary guitarist Kenny Burrell’s class on Duke Ellington
The Duke Book
Looking for some good “hi-res” DSD recordings of jazz for the holiday season, I came across The Duke Book recorded by the Dutch trumpeter/flugelhorn player Angelo Verploegen and drummer Jasper van Hulten.
The album was issued already in 2019 by Just Listen Records but it seems to be fairly unknown to the Ellington community.
It is a pity because listening to it is really worthwhile.. What Verploegen and van Hulten provide with the album is certainly not the most common interpretations of Ellington standards but very creative and interesting. Start by listening to Blues In Blueprint.
There is a lot of truth in what a writer wrote in a promotional text on the Just Listen Records’ website: “As a listener you are encouraged to play an active role: unnoticed you give your own musicality a place in between the game of the flugelhorn and the drums. Free as a bird you can spontaneously fantasize your own melodic lines.”
Once I had listened to the CD a couple of times and digested this way of playing Ellington, I come to think of the Calefax Reed Quintet, which I heard at the Ellington 2014 conference in Amsterdam. It also demonstrated how to interpret Ellington in a new way and widen the perspectives of the Maestro’s music?
Why is it only Dutch groups interpreting Ellington is this way?
Anyhow, let’s listen to what Verploegen and van Hulten have to say about the album.
The album exists in different versions The best is to go to the website of Native DSD (https://www.nativedsd.com), which sells it in different versions.. If one has a setup to play DSD files, one should really buy the DSD 256 version. The sound is magnificent!
However, the album is also available in traditional CD format from NativeDSD and on Spotify and other streaming sites.
Seasonal Greetings 2021
The website team – Anders and Ulf – wish all DESS members and other friends of Duke Ellington Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year.
We are looking forward to seeing you in 2022 on the website, in the DESScafé and at the Ellington Meeting 2022. Don’t forget to pay your membership fee to DESS to get the DESS Bulletin and keep the website with its many articles, resources and goodies going.