Ellington Meeting 2022

The website for the meeting –  https://ellingtongalaxy.org/ellington-meetings/ellington-2022 – has been updated. All the 12 presentations at the meeting are available there for viewing and DESS members can also download them in the Goodies Room https://ellingtongalaxy.org/manadsgodis-2/ellington-2022-presentations-for-download/.

An updated version of the program is also available at the website as well as reports from the four days

New issue of Blue Light

A new issue of Blue Light arrived in the beginning of the summer. It is another expanded edition with 46 pages of interesting reading

Roger Boyes continues his series on Ellington in the Forties. In the new article, he covers the whereabouts of Ellington and his orchestra from the end of 1943 to mid-1944.

Within this framework, Boyes covers the second Carnegie Hall concert and the touring that followed. In that context, he tells about Ellington’s refusal to play a whites-only show for military personnel at the Great Lakes Naval Training Base north of Chicago and changes in the band, including the arrival of singer Wini Johnson.

The final part of the article covers Ellington’s return to the Hurricane, the gradual recommencement of the recording industry and further changes in the Ellington orchestra.

Another ambitious article in the new issue is one written by Gareth Evans himself and is about vocal contributions by Ellington himself on different recordings over the years. It is inspired by his article on Moon Maiden in the previous Blue Light.

Brian Priestley is another contributor to the Spring 2022 issue. In his article, he uses his tremendous knowledge of Charlie Mingus “to trace the ins and outs” of “his love for Ellington’s music”. Fred Glueckstein’s contribution to Blue Light this time is the first part of an article about Queenie Pie.

These four articles are supplemented by concert and book reviews, obituaries and announcements to keep the readers updated on what is going on in the Ellington world.

Uptown Lockdown

There have been some changes in the series. Since a couple of months ago, Brian Priestley is responsible for it together with Antony Pepper. The first edition of the reshaped series went up on YouTube on May 29 and features Priestley’s “Ellington-oriented conversation with renowned author Alyn Shipton”.

The second one is with a 90-minute conversation with bassist Dave Green, who enthusiastically talks  about Duke Ellington, Jimmie Blanton and playing with Ben Webster.

Go to Uptown Lockdown on Youtube to watch and listen to them.

MDD 14 – Playing Others’ Music

La Maison du Duke’s annual CD is now available. It is number 14 in the series and it is called Duke Ellington – Playing Others’ Music.

“Others” refers to Billy Strayhorn, some  members of the Ellington orchestra and composers of the Great American Songbook. T

The major portion of the CD is from Ellington’s appearance at Jantzen Beach Ballroom in Portland, Oregon on 11 June 1955.

It was the last stop  in a long tour that started in in Clemson S.C. (next to Atlanta) on 26 March. From there, Ellington went to Florida with the band and then up the Atlantic coast to Washington D.C.

The cover photo on the CD is actually the famous photo taken in April 1955 in front of Astor Motel in Jacksonville, Florida.

Then, after some zick-zagging, they toured the mid-West in mid-May and continued with engagements and recording sessions on the West Coast and British Columbia in June.

It was Ellington’s second engagement at the Jantzen Beach Ballroom. The previous one was on 13 November, 1954

Both dances were recorded in some way. NDESOR lists 35 songs for the 1954 dance and 45 songs for the one in 1955. Together, they give a good image of Ellington’s dance repertoire in the mid-50’s.

It is very welcome that MDD now gives us a tidbit of it and it is just to hope that MDD or someone else will provide more of this material.

The last three tracks on the CD are from Ellington’s dance date at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield CA on 4 March, 1958. They are already available on Volume 2 of the Private Collection ( LMR CD 83001) together with other music from the dance.

Ellington at Berlin Jazz Festival

Another recent CD with Ellington was issued in June by the French record label The Lost Recordings. It has music from two Ellington appearances at the Berlin Jazz Festival, one on 8 November, 1969 and one on 2 November, 1973.

The two concerts were simultaneously issued on LP and as a hi-res download. Regardless which medium one chooses, one gets excellent sound. This is one of the hallmarks of the label. One wonders though why the record company had to give us two incomplete concerts and not one complete. There must exist complete recordings of both of thre concerts.

Ellington was featured on the poster for the 1969 festival. An introductory remark in program said “The Berlin Jazz Festival 1969 takes place under the motto: Duke Ellington – 70 (source: TDWAW).

The CD (and the other versions) has six songs from the concert – La Plus Belle Africaine, El Gato, I Can’t Get Started, Caravan and Satin Doll. However, this is a small part of the full concert and the full list of what was played in the concert is available at ellingtonia.com (http://ellingtonia.com/discography/1961-1970/). Go to 8 November, 1969.

I Can’t Get Started features Benny Bailey. He joined the Ellington band for some days during the 1969 tour starting with the concerts in Rotterdam on 7 November. Caravan and Satin Doll are from the medley.

In the 1973 festival, Ellington appeared with a small group including Money Johnson, Russell Procope, Paul Gonsalves, Harold Ashby, Harry Carney, Joe Benjamin and Quentin “Rocky” White but it is very much Ellington – the pianist, who is at the center.

The CD starts with Ellington playing what is listed as Piano Improvisation No. 1 but it is basically a version of Meditation. It is followed by Take the “A” Train with an extended introduction by Ellington.

Next on the CD is Pitter Panther Patter with Benjamin and White joining Ellington. The CD ends with the famous tap dancer Baby Laurence demonstrating his skills.

Tone Parallel issue 3

In April, Ian Bradley published the third issues of his ambitious newsletter Tone Parallel and a fourth issue will be published in September. Go to https://toneparallel.substack.com/ to register and get access to them.

The April one is about a symphony that the city of Jacksonville on the Atlantic coast of Florida commissioned Duke Ellington to write to celebrate the 150th anniversary of its founding. It got the name Celebration and was premiered by Jacksonville Symphony on 16 May 1972 with Ellington present.

Stanley Dance was also there and he wrote an article about the event for the English Jazz Journal. Ian Bradley is kind to quote extensively from it.

Ellington assigned the orchestration of the symphony to the orchestra leader, composer and arranger Ron Collier, who worked from sketches by Ellington. According to Bradley, Collier also went to Jacksonville just before the première to finish the orchestration there.

An essential part of Bradley’s article is what “retired Senior Managing Attorney at one of the world’s largest financial institutions”, Deborah Hollis Kaye told him in an interview earlier this year. She is the daughter of the late world-famous plastic surgeon Dr. Bernard L. Kaye, who lived in Jacksonville with his family. He was also a member of the Jacksonville Symphony.

Kaye was chosen by the Symphony to have a solo part in Celebration and Ms. Kaye told Bradley a lot about this and her work in late life to track down the recording of the première of the symphony with Kaye´s solo(s). A fascinating story!

As usual, Bradley brings a lot of his own reflections based on what he had learnt into the article, which makes it even more interesting and worthwhile to read.

The Jacksonville Symphony had intended to play Celebration in March 2020 but had to cancel the performance due to COVID restrictions. However, it made a short promotional video about this and the symphony, which is available on YouTube.




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