Ian is one of the cornerstones of what I have coined Ellington Galaxy. I discovered him when I found his blog Ellington Live and when he became the editor of DESUK’s Blue Light. Over the years, I have learned a lot about Duke Ellington thanks to him and if I had been an Ellington collector (which I am not) I would have learned even more.
Ian is a terrific and elegant writer, a researcher, who constantly make new findings and a philosopher who spices his writings with interesting angles.
He divides his time between Facebook, where he is one of the most active in Ellington community there, his blog Ellington Live and publishing monthly articles on Substack in the profile A Tone Parallel.
His most recent article on Substack is titled Bleak Beauty. It is a reflection and a digestion of two interviews of Ellington from his final tour of Europe in 1973.
Both were done when Ellington had just come out of the gate. The first one was made at Umeå Airport in the lower northern part of Sweden and the other one at Ljubljana Airport in Slovenia. In both cases, it is a tired and irritated Ellington, who subject himself to be interviewed by young news journalists.
The one in Umeå took place on October 27 and the one in Ljubljana on November 7.
I attended Ellington’s second concert on October 28. It took place in Uppsala where I lived at that time. The first concert was in Stockholm earlier in the evening.
It was not the best of Ellington concerts to put is mildly. To use some words in a paragraph in Ian’s article: “The orchestra was not at all as it once was, a particular poignancy, a kind of truth or bleak beauty emerged from their performances, which would otherwise not have been present.”
“The same can be said of Ellington himself”, considers Ian. “In the two interviews …. the mask has all but slipped entirely. It is not so much what Ellington says …. but rather the contrary if not confrontational manner he couches his responses. Despite Ellington’s obvious irritation with his interlocutor’s blandishment, what emerges is a coherent and articulate statement of core principals and beliefs that had shaped Ellington’s life….Rarely in public before can Ellington have allowed his disenchantment with the business of music and cynicism of the commercial markets to have shown it so baldly.”
The two interviews have been available on the Internet for a couple of years and the one from Umeå Airport in the hand of collectors much longer. But no one has got so much out of them as Ian and I can only recommend Galaxy readers to go to Tone Parallel to read the full article (https://toneparallel.substack.com/p/tone-parallel-aeb).
Author: Ulf Lundin