Broadcast 49 took place on 25 April 1992. This time it was produced and presented by Fleming Sjölund Jensen
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