It is rare that new issues of the DESS Bulletin and DESUK’s Blue Light are published just a few days apart but at the end of January and early February it happened. Thanks to that, subscribers to the two journals have gotten a substantial set of articles with good Ellington reading in one go. Amazing! The Duke is certainly alive! Thank you Bo Haufman and Gareth Evans!
DESS Bulletin 2023-1
The cover story of the new DESS Bulletin is about Ozzie Bailey.
It is the result of creative biographical research by the DESS member and author of the article Sven-Erik Baun Christensen. In his seven page article, he gives the family history of the “elusive” singer and his career.
Bailey was of West Indian origin (Trinidad) and his father arrived in Nerw York in June 1917. Bailey was born there on 6 November 1925 and spent his whole life in New York. He was drafted into military service in March 1944 and discharged in October 1947. “It seems that Bailey had an interest in and ability to sing as a young man”, says Baun Christensen. Luther Henderson took him under his wings quite early on and in 1956 Henderson used him for recording an LP for MGM which was issued in 1957.
Bailey was also a good friend of Billy Strayhorn and this might have contributed to that Ellington recruited him for A Drum Is A Woman. In the show, he is CarribeeJoe and sings What Else Can You Do With A Drum, You Better Know It and Pomegranate.
In the spring of 1957, Bailey started to sing with the Ellington band on tour and for a while in parallel with Jimmie Grissom. The best known Bailey recording during his time with Ellingtonton is most likely Autumn Leaves which was included in the Ellington Indigos album. He also recorded Hand Me Down Love, Duke’s Place and a couple of others.
Bailey left Ellington in February 1960 and more or less got out of the limelight. However, in July 1965 he recorded with Billy Strayhorn and in February 1969 with the Ellington band.
The last public appearance of Bailey seems to have been a tribute concert to Duke Ellington on 26 April 1974. Ozzie passed away a little bit more than a year thereafter.
Bo Haufman contributes an article about George Wein and what he has to say about Duke Ellington in his autobiography. He also give a portrait of the talented pianist Brooks Kerr, who was a living encyclopedia of Ellington’s compositions and solos and a close friend of his. A third article from Bo Haufman’s pen is about the banjo player Russell Conoway, who was the one who brought Sonny Greer to Washington D.C.. In 1920, he played in a trio with Ellington and Sonny Greer at a club called Louis Thomas’s Dreamland Café in D.C.. He is mentioned by Ellington in Music Is My Mistres. The three articles are in Swedish.
Another article in Swedish is by the distinguished discographer Björn Englund. He tells about Victor’s policy instituted in 1931 for marking recordings and gives examples from the recording sessions ) 9 and 10 January 1934. A longer version of this article was published in Vintage Jazz Mart issue 171.
In the new Bulletin, there is also a reprint of the article on the DESS website about when Sidney Bechet played with Duke Ellington.
Blue Light 29-3
The Blue Light editor Gareth Evans himself has contributed one of the major articles in the new issues. It is about Duke Ellington and Bob Dylan – In Duplicate: Duke and Dylan. Once again Evans uses his knowledge about Duke Ellington and of 1960’s pop music scene to open up new perspectives. The article is really , as Evans says “a list of similarities (or rather points of comparison) between two musical giants”. Read it and agree or disagree. The second part of the article will appear in the next issue of Blue Light.
Another major article is another installment in Roger Boyes‘ long series about Duke Ellington in the 1940’s. This time it is about Ellington’s activities in the summer and autumn of 1944. It takes the reader from Ellington’s departure from Toronto in late June to his return to Carnegie Hall in December 1944.
Among the topics in the article are Cat Anderson‘s arrival in the Ellington band in September 1944, Ellington’s return to the Victor studios as soon as the recording ban was over and the 19 December Carnegie Hall Concert.
Three articles from Fred Glueckstein‘s pen is also included in the new BL issue. One is a three page article about Ellington’s meetings with Queen Elizabeth II in 1958 and 1973, another is part three of his article about Queenie Pie and the third about the ballett Pas de Duke choreographed by the founder of American Dance Theatre Alvin Ailey to music of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn in 1976.
Another set of three articles is about the Ellington legacy and how to keep it alive. Frank Griffith writes about recent and not so recent recordings of Ellington music by English bands available on CD in his article Now!
It is followed up with an article by Adam Brazell, who discuss “Will Ellington’s lasting legacy rest primarily on the recordings of his famous bands, or the reinterpretation of his composition by future performers. The third article is a reprint of Gunther Schuller’s The Case for Ellington’s Music as Living Repertory.