The 10th International Ellington Conference took place in Los Angeles 13-16 June 1991. It was organised by The Duke Ellington Society Southern California Chapter and announced at Ellington ’90 in New York by its driving President Bill Hill. He was also the conference chairman. Steven Lasker was the program director and Master of Ceremony.

More than 150 Ellington hardcore Ellington fans participated and many of them brought also spouses and husbands with them.

One of the highlights of the ambitious and varied program was of course Jump for Joy. In the afternoon of the third day, there was a panel moderated by Patricia Villard about the musical. It brought together some ten members of the cast and Herb Jeffries was one of them. He was also one of the performers from the original show who appeared at the evening Jump for Joy concert with Bill Berry’s LA. Big Band.

The conference participants also had the opportunity to enjoy The LA. Big Band in conjunction with the conference banquet on 14 June.

For the occasion of the conference, the orchestra had been reinforced by Ellington alumni Rolf Ericsson, Buster Cooper, Vince Prudente and Marshall Royal. Louie Bellson appeared as special guest artist.

The program also included a lot of film features. On two occasions, the conference participants could watch some of Harry Carney’s “home” movies with clips of Ellington band members from the 1930’s and 1940’s. Mark Cantor and Klaus Strateman showed and talked about Symphony In Black and Hit Parade and Mark Cantor made an additional presentation with rarities from his collection including two Jump for Joy soundies.

The more analytical presentations included according to the program one by Andrew Homzy on “Anatomy of a Murder” and another by Erik Wiedemann on missing parts of The Sacred Concerts on commercial records.

Ellington band members covered in presentations were Barney Bigard (by Floyd Levin), Ray Nance (by Dick Wang) and Rex Stewart (by Claire Gordon).

Other presentational highlights were John E. Hasse‘s about recently discovered program covers from Cotton Club in late 1920’s and early 1930’s and an never-issued Cotton Club broadcast by Cab Calloway from the collection of Miles Krueger (presented by Steven Lasker).

The conference ended with an extensive bus tour organised by Steven Lasker to places in Los Angeles associated with Ellington. The map below has Sebastian’s Cotton Club which later became Casa Manana, Meadowbrook Gardens etc (2), Shrine Auditorium where Ellington made his first public appearance on 29 August 1930 and Ivie Anderson’s  Chicken Shack (6)

Thank you to Lee Farley for providing me with the copy of the conference program, the maps of the bus tour and many other things and to Göran Wallén for telling me more about the conference.

The conference presentations will be published on the Ellington Galaxy website during the next couple of months

Author: Ulf Lundin



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