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Are Ellington and Strayhorn studying the UMMG Score?
Upper Manhattan Medical Group
In April and May 1954 Ellington and his orchestra were touring in western USA. This has been documented in a concert from Embassy Auditorium in Los Angeles on April 13, and from a dance date at McElroy’s Ballroom in Portland on April 29. In addition, songs from a Capitol Recording session on April 26 have been issued on the Capitol label.
On May 1, Duke and the orchestra were performing at a dance date at Trianon Ballroom in Seattle and the first part of this is rather interesting due to the the fact that the tunes played are not so common in the band’s repertoire. DESS members can enjoy this by logging into the Goodies Room.
The summer issue of Blue Light arrived in my mailbox in early July. It is marked by the sad passing away of DESUK chairman Geoff Smith in March last year but also provides some good Ellington reading.
The key feature is a 10 pages long article on Ellington at the piano. It is written by Jack Chambers – a regular contributor to Blue Light.
He guides us through Ellington’s stylistic development as a pianist from someone being firmly anchored in the stride piano tradition to a man open to venture into post bop styles.
Chambers singles out the two LP albums – The Duke Plays Ellington (aka Piano Reflections) on Capitol and Money Jungle on United Artists – as highlights in Ellington’s pianist career. His reason: they are major advances in his way of dealing with the piano.
However, his choice for the ONE piano performance is the spontaneously played Lotus Blossom at the end of one of the recording sessions for the ”…And His Mother Called Him Bill” album.
Chambers also considers that the recital at the Whitney Museum in New York in 1972 – eternalized in the ”Live at the Whitney” CD album – ”might be the most comprehensive view of Ellington as a piano player”.
The original article was apparently written some years ago and even if it has been revised and updated there are a couple of mistakes.
On page 7 Chambers writes about the Paramount recording of Jig Walk which for almost 2o years is considered as a non-Ellington recording. He also says (page 11 and 15) that the recital at the MOMA in 1962 is unissued but Maison de Duke made it available on CD almost 1o years ago.
In addition to Chamber’s article, Blue Light provides us with reviews of recently issued Ellington CDs and concerts with Ellington music.
Today is September 1 and as promised the DESS website is back after its summer break. As before, we will continue to do our best to provide members of DESS and others interested in Ellington with music, photos, videos, articles etc related to Il Maestro. Possibly we will do this less frequently than before but at the same time the website has now at its disposal a lot of quite unique material of interest to Ellington connoisseurs. This includes radio programs about Ellington, photos never published and the video and radio taped proceedings of the 24 Ellington Study Group Conferences.
The conference tapes in the Sjef Hoefsmit Collection, which have been made available to the website, are currently being digitized and excerpts of the result will be published on the website during the year.
It seems appropriate to start the season by doing this. Here is the Swedish pianist Berndt Egerbladh and Alice Babs improvising at the opening session of the 1994 Study Group Conference in Stockholm.
This time, the website publishes another tidbit from the proceedings of the Ellington Study Group conference in Stockholm May 12-15, 2004. The source is once again the Sven Eriksson’s tape recording of the conference (see article June 1).
It is the second presentation made on the first day of the conference. It was given by Frank Büchmann-Møller, who talked about unpublished 1941 recordings by Ben Webster found in the Ben Webster Collection housed by the University Library of Southern Denmark in Odense.
As Jens Lindgren says in his introduction, Büchmann-Møller was at that time (and still is) responsible for the jazz collection at the music departement of the University Library of Southern Denmark. He is also the author of books on – among others – Lester Young and Ben Webster.
The three recordings in the presentation was issued by the English record label AB Fable on a CD a couple of years after the conference but it is not so easy to find today. Fortunately, the CD is nowadays also available at iTunes.
När Duke Ellington och hans orkester reste på Europa-turné i oktober 1958, så var det 8 år sedan den förra turnén och av manskapet som deltog 1950 återstod nu bara c:a hälften. I stället hade nya musiker etablerat sig i orkestern.
Publiken i Europa fick nu för första gången höra och se ett antal nya intressanta solister som Clark Terry, Cat Anderson, Britt Woodman, John Sanders, Paul Gonsalves, Sam Woodyard m. fl., som visserligen inte var okända, men som var nya för den europeiska publiken.
Turnén började i London den 5 oktober och avslutades i Paris den 20 november och då hade orkestern haft konserter nästa varje dag däremellan.
Den 4 november hade turen kommits till Sverige och Stockholm, där orkestern konserterade i Kungl. Tennishallen. Från denna konsert finns tyvärr inget bevarat, men däremot besökte orkestern Göteborg två dagar senare och därifrån finns två hela konserter bevarade.
1958 års upplaga av Duke Ellington och hans orkester var tveklöst en av de av de bästa som besökte Europa under alla år. Musik från den andra föreställningen i Göteborgs konserthus har tidigare utgivits i urval på olika skivmärken, men inte i sin helhet, samt sänts i radio (i utdrag) både 1958 och senare.
DESS’ medlemmar får den här gången ta del av den första konserten från Göteborg, vilken aldrig utgivits på skiva (undantag: Diminuendo and Crescendo In Blue & Wailing Interval). Nedan hör vi ett exempel från konserten, medan resten av konserten finns i Godisrummet.
The 19th Duke Ellington Study Group conference took place in Stockholm May 12-15, 2004. Sven Eriksson – DESS member, Ellington collector, hi-fi expert and much more – recorded the proceedings on his cassette player and the result was 13 cassette tapes of music and presentations.
The box with Sjef Hoefsmit’s video and sounds tapes from the Study Group conferences included copies of them and this week the website will give a couple of examples of what is on the tapes.
Jan Bruér – musicologist, jazz historian, music producer, Ellington expert etc. – started the first full day of the conference with a presentation – ”Ellington In Swedish” – about Ellington music played by Swedish musicians. As you can here, he covered a lot of ground from the early 1940s to the 1970s. Many of the conference participants must have heard the music in the presentation for the first time.
The 24 Duke Ellington Study Group conferences have been documented in photos, sound and video recordings, articles in the DEMS Bulletin, the DESS Bulletin, Blue Light and similar publication etc. Except for the articles, this material is not easily accessible for Ellington aficionados and is often buried in archives or personal collection.
The late Sjef Hoefsmit – the eminent Ellington scholar and editor of the DEMS Bulletin – took part in all Study Group conferences from 1982 to 2008 and in 1986 he started to document the proceedings of the conferences with his video camera. He was also given copies of sound recordings of some conferences. After his passing away in 2012, all the tapes has been hidden away in a box in Hoefsmit’s study and later in the basement of his daughter Babette’s basement.
The box with some 140 tapes was recently donated to the DESS website.
The website will do its outmost to convert them to digital format and make them available through it.
A project group composed of Louis Tavecchio, Joe Medjuk, David Palmquist and the editor of the website has been formed. It will oversee and guide the work. The group is an open one so anyone, who would like to be part of it and contribute to its work is welcome.
A list of the tapes is available here.