The new issue of the DESS Bulletin is on its way to the subscribers=DESS members or has just reached them.
The cover artist is this time Sam Woodyard, Ellington’s First Chair Percussionist as Bo Haufman calls him.
As usual, Bo has done an incredible job and written most of the major articles. The international Ellington community and not only DESS members should be grateful to him for this.
In a four-page , Haufman provides a detailed portrait of Woodyard – his background, his career with Ellington, the years thereafter and views on him as a drummer and person. At the end of the article, Bo reminds us of the ten-page interview of Woodyard in Stanley Dance’s The World of Duke Ellington.
The second article by Bo is about Herb Jeffries and his career as a film actor before and after his time as vocalist with Ellington from January 1940 to mid 1942. The focus of the article is of of course Jeffries film career in the 1930’s. While touring with Earl Hines in the early 1930’s, Jeffries learned that the cinema audience liked cowboy westerns and decided to make that kind of movies for an Afro-American public.
His first movie was called Harlem on the Prairie (1937) and was apparently quite successful financially. It was followed Two-Gun Man from Harlem (1938) and The Bronze Buckaroo (1939). In both films, Jeffries sings with The Four Tones. They also do it in Jeffries last film Harlem Rides the Range before he joined Ellington.
Then there is the article headlined Flowers are lovesome, in which he looks at Ellington and Strayhorn compositions with a flower in their names. There are a lot to learn from Bo’s article.
He let us know about flowers used as titles, the composers of the songs (not always Ellington or Strayhorn) and when they we performed and by who. Some of the flowers/songs in the article are Bird of Paradise, Azalea, Lotus Blossom, Pussy Willow, Passion Flower, Pomegranate, Single Petal of a Rose and Magnolias Dripping with Molasses.
The article is in Swedish but there should be an English version of it as well. All songs are in a play list on Spotify.
The frequent guests writer in the Bulletin, Sven-Erik Baun Christensen, contributes this time with an article about Ellington’s 1950 cooperation with Orson Welles. He is an archive researcher and once again he unveils gold for the core community of Ellington experts and fans.
During Ellington’s European tour in April-June 1950, he was contacted by Orson Welles to provide music for one of two plays Welles was going to perform in Paris in mid June. Until now, it has been considered that Ellington (and Strayhorn) wrote the music while in Stockholm in early June 1950. This is based on what Ellington said in an interview for the U.S. magazine “The Leader” in September 1950.
However, digging into Danish news paper archives an article in Berlingske Tidende that the music was actually written in Copenhagen where Ellington gave four concerts, two on May 31 and two on June 1. The article was published in the June 3 issue of BT and gives a very full account of what happened. Based on it, it seems that it was basically Strayhorn who write the music and that he did so in the evening of May 31 during the concert and morning late morning of June 1.
The rest of Sven-Erik’s fascinating tells more about the play, the music and the performances in Paris. A must read!
Last but not least: The new Bulletin has a three-page report from the Ellington Meeting/Conference in Paris. It is of course written by Bo Haufman!