DUKE ELLINGTON MUSIC SOCIETY
01/1 April-July 2001
FOUNDER: BENNY AASLAND
Voort 18b, 2328 Meerle, Belgium
Telephone: +32 3 315 75 83
Duke Ellington has changed our lives. Through the wonder and
integrity of his music, he has brought us (meaning everyone who has
played or heard his music) together as a community which transgresses
the mere limits of time and space. Whether one is young or old, of one
creed or another, wealthy or of modest means, living in this nation or
that, whoever and wherever we are, Ellington gave us opportunities to
discover and share aspects of ourselves through his genius. For some of
us, it might be a remembrance of a particular Ellington performance; for
others, it might be a collection of his recordings or films; and for
others, it might be a step through research into an aspect of his life
or music. Whatever the point of access, there is no greater or lesser
accomplishment than what it means to each one of us to have been touched
by Ellington's gift.
Mark Thomas Tucker was touched by Ellington. And thus, he is one of us - or, as Ellington would say: "My people".
Like many children with supportive parents, Mark began piano lessons at age 7. As a teenager, he showed his interest in another kind of music by learning to play the guitar and decided to become a rock and roll star.
Fortunately for the likes of Michael Jackson, and the-artist-formerly-known-as-Prince, Mark's father discreetly proffered both a Segovia and a Kenny Burrell recording as alternative role models. Won over by the Burrell recording, Mark developed an interest and a passion for jazz which remained with him for the rest of his life.
Mark's interest in music led him to Yale University where, as a pianist, he earned both a bachelor's and a master's degree in performance. Soon after, he widened his interests and completed another masters degree and a Ph.D in musicology at the University of Michigan - his doctoral dissertation being: THE EARLY YEARS OF EDWARD KENNEDY 'DUKE' ELLINGTON, 1899-1927. (VOLUMES I AND II), 1986. 529 pp.
I had briefly met Mark Tucker while researching at the Library of Congress and again at one of the first Ellington conferences in Chicago in 1984. At the conference, I made a presentation about Ellington material in the Library of Congress and, in conclusion, offered a complaint about how little material was available then and how difficult it was to navigate through various, seemingly arbitrary, categories only having to wait a fair while before the items would be delivered to my desk. During the question period, Mark stood up and asked me: "But didn't you find the librarians friendly and eager to help you discover all the material that might be of interest?" His one question reminded me that it is the people who are important - not the systems or ideologies. My attitude towards institutions changed from that moment - and since then, I've always tried to make my appreciation clearly known to the librarians, archivists and other staff for their help with my projects.
I also remember talking with Mark about his research on early Ellington - when it was "in progress" as his Ph.D thesis. We discussed various recordings and problems of transcribing and re-creating performances. As a few privileged people know, he was quite a good pianist and Mark played me several passages from the recordings we were discussing. I thought: Here is a great talent who would be welcome in any traditional jazz band.
A few years later (1989), as I was walking past a conference room in Washington, I heard some very good modern jazz a-la Bill Evans. I looked in and there was Mark relaxing - Ellington called it dreaming - with a grand piano. Again, I was quite impressed with his technique and ideas. I also modified my opinion thinking: Here is a great talent who would be welcome in ANY jazz band.
But it was as an author of books on jazz and Ellington in particular that spread Mark's name around the world. His books are: "Jazz from the Beginning" - the story of saxophonist/clarinetist Garvin Bushell; "Ellington: The Early Years" - which is a revision of his Ph.D dissertation; and "The Duke Ellington Reader" - a wonderful annotated collection of writings by and about the Duke. Marks many essays written for various journals, magazines and newsletters could easily fill several volumes. Let us hope these will be collected and published in book form as well.
Those who have seen Mark make presentations at Ellington conferences and in other venues know that he was a calm, clear and engaging speaker. He was constantly bringing forth new information and insights about Ellington and his music. He was able to communicate with everyone - as did his mentor - be it "in the alley" or in the institution.
Mark - who was born 9 years after me - gave me several important opportunities to develop credibility as an academic. Among them, was an invitation to write an article "Black, Brown and Beige in Duke Ellington’s Repertoire, 1943 - 1973" for the Black Music Research Journal 13: 87-110 n2, 23 pp., 1993. His kind and wise guidance - he was editor of the entire issue - made my article much better and so it opened doors onto many other projects.
We had but a few opportunities to meet socially - once at my home in Montreal and another at his rented summer digs - a fine shack in Elizabethtown, New York. On those occasions, our families got to know a little of each other and my daughters still fondly remember his children Wynn and Zoe. Mark's wife Carol Oja impressed me as a concerned and caring mother as much as she had impressed me as a first rate academic, with her formidable research and writing skills on American music. Her books are:
"American Music Recordings: A Discography of 20th Century U.S. Composers";
"A Celebration of American Music";
"Colin McPhee : Composer in Two Worlds";
"Stravinsky in Modern Music"; and
"Making Music Modern: New York in the 1920s".
Mark and Carol had met in 1982 and were married in 1986.
Mark's first teaching post was at Columbia University in New York. He taught there for ten years. I had an opportunity to visit one of his classes. I envied his students with an emotion verging on jealousy. In 1997, Mark and Carol accepted a joint position as Margaret and David Bottoms Professor of Music and Professor of American Studies at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. I encourage you to visit the web page: <http://www.wm.edu> to understand the great contrast it must have been from their experience of living in Manhattan.
During the centennial of Ellington's birth, I tried to show my appreciation for Mark's talent by asking him to participate as a pianist in my reconstruction of Ellington's "Blue Belles of Harlem" which was commissioned by Paul Whiteman in 1938. This was for the Amherst College Duke Ellington Symposium – March 4-6, 1999. Mark was invited to present a paper titled "'Ad Lib on Nippon' (from Far East Suite) and other Ellington piano features". I thought this would be a wonderful opportunity to work with him as a musician. As I directed, with Mark as pianist - he had a few solos in the pieces we played - I thought: Who else in the world could bring so much knowledge and skill to the interpretation of this music? The next day, we had an all-too-brief meeting over lunch. I never suspected this would be the last time I would ever see him
Most recently, Mark gave me the opportunity to speak at the SOCIETY FOR AMERICAN MUSIC PLENARY SESSION I: A TRIBUTE TO OSCAR PETERSON on Thursday, 2 November, 8:00-9:30 pm - at the conference Toronto 2000: Musical Intersections. Mark wanted me, as a Montréalais, to provide a perspective on Peterson's early years with a musicological bent. We communicated via e-mail about my presentation, and while he never saw any of my drafts, his standard of excellence set the challenge for me to do my very best - and it was after I had accepted to do the presentation that Mark said: "By the way, we're expecting Oscar Peterson to be there."
Mark was unable to attend the conference and concerns for his health was a topic with everyone I met. None of us expected the sad news to come so swiftly. Although he never smoked, Mark had developed lung cancer. Despite his illness, Mark was hard at work teaching and writing on a new book "Blue Sphere: The Music of Thelonious Monk". It had already been accepted by Oxford University Press. Knowing Mark's diligence and integrity, I'm sure that if it is not entirely finished, he has already written enough to make a lasting statement about the compositions of one of jazz's most enigmatic and misunderstood personalities. Since I can no longer pray for Mark's health, I'll pray that Oxford will find a way to publish his last work - and I'll pray that his family will find strength in his undying love for them.
Mark Thomas Tucker. Born in 1954 - Died December 6, 2000. Andrew Homzy
"In November 1969 the Duke Ellington band was coming in from West Berlin into East Germany," said Norris Turney. "I was just new in the band then, and I didn't have a visa. One of the border guards looked at me and said, 'He can't go in.' So Duke got off the bus and walked very nonchalantly into the office. He had an album by the band with him, he gave it to the guy, and they let me in. That was during the Cold War! The power of Duke Ellington!"
Turney was a unique jazz journeyman who played several instruments
very well. He was the first and only man to play flute in the Ellington
band, although he originally joined Ellington as a saxophonist,
replacing the remarkable trombonist Benny Green, managing, incredibly,
to play trombone parts on the alto sax. Ellington later used his alto to
replace any gap, including amongst the trumpets that appeared in the
band. Turney stepped into Johnny Hodges's place in the band for two
weeks when the great alto player was ill.
"What you doing sitting up there?" asked Hodges when he returned. "Nothing man, just trying to hold a gig down for you," said Turney.
Turney played trumpet and trombone parts with the band before finally being called into the saxophone section as a full member in 1969.
The two men became friends. Turney had copied Hodges's playing when he was a child and had dreamed of one day joining Ellington's band. His alto style remained similar to Hodges.
One night in New York the Turneys' doorbell rang at half past three
in the morning. His wife Marilee answered the door. It was Johnny
Hodges's wife Tootsie, who had been drinking heavily.
"You ain't nothing," she said to Norris Turney. "You can't play like Johnny."
"I threw her ass out of there," reflected Marilee.
Happily the friendly relations between the couples weren't affected and when Hodges died in May 1970, Turney took over his role. He wrote a piece, Chequered Hat, in tribute to Hodges, and it was one of the few pieces composed by one of his sidemen that Ellington played in concert and also recorded. Turney's beautiful ballad style now blossomed and he became a fully-fledged Ellingtonian. His flute playing gave the band a new colour, although he was never quite able to step out of the shadow of Hodges on alto. With Ellington, he travelled in Europe, Asia and Australasia.
Duke Ellington's son Mercer recalled how Turney left the band in 1973. "We were into a period when Pop was very dissatisfied with the rhythm section. One night he was screaming at it during Norris's solo and Norris protested about this in a way Pop felt was defying his authority. He needled Norris so much between numbers that Norris became furious, packed up his instruments and left the stage during a performance. So Ellington lost the only musician capable of succeeding Johnny Hodges."
Turney had begun playing with lesser known bands at the end of the Thirties, eventually replacing Sonny Stitt in 1945, first in Tiny Bradshaw's rhythm and blues band and then when Stitt left Billy Eckstine's band. In the Eckstine band, where Charlie Parker worked as a sideman, Turney played with Art Blakey, Gene Ammons and Fats Navarro, all pioneering Bebop musicians.
Life on the road was rugged, and Turney went back to Ohio where he organised his own band for two years. Coincidentally he used Junior Raglin, an ex-Ellington bassist.
He returned to New York in 1950 for one dreadful year. "Just give me a job mopping up. I'll do anything. I need a job," he said to one club owner.
In 1951, he moved to Philadelphia joining Elmer Snowden's band for five years. He returned to New York in 1957 and he freelanced, living at one time only on his wife's unemployment benefit.
"We went on like that for a few years but we did all right. Then in 1967 I joined Ray Charles for a year and I went with him to Australia and New Zealand. Things were steadily picking up." In New York, he worked with bands led by Clark Terry, Frank Foster and Duke Pearson.
After the break with Ellington Turney worked in Broadway shows for ten years. These included "Guys and Dolls", "Ain't Misbehavin'" and "Sophisticated Ladies". "Sophisticated Ladies" was made up from Ellington's music and it was in this band that he made friends with another ex-Ellingtonian, Joe Temperley. The two men worked together and finally rejoined the Duke Ellington "ghost" band led by Mercer Ellington after Duke's death. His flute playing won him the Downbeat award for Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition in 1971.
During the Eighties Turney returned to jazz, joining Panama Francis's Savoy Sultans, Illinois Jacquet and then touring with George Wein's Newport Festival All Stars.
He was much in demand for concert tours and he recorded with leaders as diverse as Roy Eldridge, Paul Gonsalves and Randy Weston.
Norris Turney, reed and woodwind player: born Wilmington, Ohio, 8 September 1921: died Dayton, Ohio, 17 January 2001.
This obituary by Steve Voce appeared in the Independent.
Expressions of sympathy may be sent to Norris's widow, Mrs Marilee Turney, 3624 Marshall Street, Kettering, OH 45429, USA
The Danish jazz researcher and journalist Erik Wiedemann died 70 years old on the 2nd of March 2001. Outside Scandinavia Wiedemann was known as a premier scholar of Duke Ellington and as a presenter and lecturer at the Annual International Duke Ellington Study Group Conferences. Inside he was also known as a strong force in Scandinavian jazz research and as a reviewer.
For the international Ellington society Wiedemann's most interesting publication was probably his article in the Annual Review of Jazz Studies no. 5 (1991) about Duke Ellington as composer. This article was the last in a series of articles that allowed readers to get an idea of the Ellington research project that Wiedemann started in 1984. He tried to make up a complete list of all Ellington's compositions. Unfortunately, the project was never brought to an end.
Before this, Wiedemann had taught for many years at the Institute of Musicology at the University of Copenhagen. The topics were primarily in the field of jazz and in 1981 he submitted his dissertation "Jazz in Denmark in the twenties, the thirties and the forties" [translation JM]. He became the first doctor of jazz in Denmark and was playfully called "Doctor Jazz" in the Danish media.
However, Wiedemann's most important contribution in his own country was as a propagator of and a well-known participant in the cultural life of the country. Wiedemann's effort is easiest understood when his book "Jazz and Jazz People" (Copenhagen, 1948 and 1960) [translation JM] is compared with Joachim Ernest Berendt's "Das Jazzbuch" (Frankfurt a. Main, 1953) and Hugues Panassié's "La Musique de Jazz et le Swing" (Paris, 1943). Like his German and French colleagues, Wiedemann wanted to create an understanding of jazz and his viewpoints on jazz were not far from Berendt's but quite far from Panassié's, whom Wiedemann is polemizing against in this and other books. In 1962 Marshall Stearns "The Story of Jazz" (New York, 1956) was published in Denmark and Wiedemann was one of the translators of the book.
The reception of jazz was just as negative in Denmark as in other European countries or in the USA but after the Second World War Wiedemann engaged himself in the work of enlightenment and in discussions with the purpose of declaring the qualities of jazz as an art. It can be said today with certainty that he succeeded in this effort. The crown of the lifelong work was when the Danish jazz organizer Arnvid Meyer and Wiedemann with, among others, Dan Morgenstern, the director of the Jazz Institute at Rutgers, around 1989 established the Jazzpar-project. This is financed by a Danish company and is one of the largest jazz prizes in the world (app. $26,000).
For almost fifty years, Wiedemann was reviewer at the Danish newspaper "Information". My first meeting with Wiedemann was as a reader of his articles, but in 1983 with more than a hundred other students I was welcomed by Erik Wiedemann at that time the director of the Institute of Musicology at the University of Copenhagen. In the following years Wiedemann was the lecturer who introduced jazz history and jazz research to us, and as a lecturer he gave less emphasis on the philosophy of art than he gave to the systematic and empirical part of jazz research, among this also the use of discographies.
With the death of Erik Wiedemann Denmark has lost one of the pioneers of Scandinavian jazz research and the international Ellington society a great expert of Ellington's music.
Erik Wiedemann is survived by his wife Birgit M., and the children Nana, Vinca, Katrine and Frederik Wiedemann.
The Ellington community has lost yet another proud and influential voice with the passing of Don Miller.
Don affected my life in a number of important ways. He helped me to understand the depth and breadth of Duke Ellington's music. He enriched my life by sharing his extensive collection of records and tapes featuring Duke in private and public performances that shed light on Ellington's genius. He convinced me, as he did others, of the importance in preserving and promoting the transcribing of the many wondrous compositions that musicians, scholars and historians can now pass on to future generations.
The joys and pleasures of this music have been enriched due, in large measure, to Don's unflinching faith and determination to bring the Ellington community together for the common good of all.
Through Don, I had the great pleasure and honor of meeting Gunther Schuler, Jeff Lindberg and Richard Wang all of whom the music of Ellington meant a living, breathing thing that deserved to be nurtured and shared with everyone. Through Don, I had the joy of meeting Joe Igo and Gordon Ewing and learned first hand how important their work in chronicling Duke's life was in preserving this history. Through Don, I met many wonderful people like Sjef Hoefsmit and the incredible work and service he provides to the Ellington community.
Through Don, I gained an appreciation for the countless hours he spent writing letters and making telephone calls all over the world to promote the creation of the Duke Ellington Study Group and Conferences.
Through Don, I learned of the incredible efforts put forth by Morris Hodara, Eddie Lambert and Andrew Homzy to preserve and present the works of Ellington. Don had a vision that he never lost sight of and his tireless efforts have made us all the richer for it.
Don summed it up best with his closing words whether in writing or in conversation: "All for the love of Duke".
Bless you Don, we will miss you always.
What Tony said about Don is what all of us feel and would want to express.
I can't yet believe that Don is gone.
I want to pick up the phone to call him, and after asking him "How are you?" to hear his customary response, "Better than I deserve."
Jo Ann Sterling
Herbie Jones, a big band trumpeter, arranger, composer, photographer and educator, best known for playing in the Duke Ellington Orchestra from 1963 through 1968, died at a Bronx hospital on Monday March 19 of complications from diabetes. He was 74.
Mr. Jones also served as Ellington librarian and music extractor, one of the few musicians who worked closely with the leader and his collaborator Billy Strayhorn, usually sitting between them as they wrote musical sketches which Mr. Jones developed and copied into individual parts for his colleagues.
In his memoir Music Is My Mistress (Doubleday, 1973), Mr. Ellington wrote, "Herbie Jones, a young veteran of Mercer Kennedy Ellington's many bands, came out and joined us in Ceylon… Because of his great interest in the wisdom and culture of the East, nothing could have stopped him when we sent him the invitation… He was a great asset to the band… A good reader, he played first trumpet whenever required, and he extracted and copied scores accurately. He never demanded any special treatment or consideration. He was neat and clean, neither smoked nor drank, and always walked four miles a day… Herbie Jones is my good friend. I love him and his beautiful family, and the only reason he is not with us today is because his duties as husband and father came, as they should, first."
"What surprised me when I joined the band," Mr. Jones reported in an oral history interview for the Smithsonian Institution in 1989, "was that you come in on parts that are under the lead… You're not on top any more. You're coming in on the harmony parts, and those parts are jammed together in clusters—chords that are jammed together so that nobody can copy what Duke's doing… You think that something's wrong… that your horn's a little out of tune. You're playing the notes right but they sound a little off. Later, you learn that everything is perfect. Nobody else wrote like that."
Oral history material from Mr. Jones exists in the TDES, the New York Ellington Society, Archives and at the Smithsonian Ellington Collection, where Mr. Jones served as a consultant in 1989, identifying unmarked music.
Mr. Jones toured five continents with the Ellington band. Among his arrangements recorded by the band were "El Busto," "Cootie's Caravan," "The Prowling Cat" and "The Opener." His contributions to Mr. Ellington's First and Second Concerts of Sacred Music were acknowledged in the programs. Despite Mr. Ellington's repeated offers to compose music especially for Mr. Jones, he declined to accept solo assignments because, he confided, that he did not want to be indelibly identified with the Ellington style.
During one of the tours for Norman Granz, the impresario and producer, Mr. Granz was so impressed with Mr. Jones's expert photography that Mr. Granz presented the musician with a Hasselblad camera, complete with accessories.
Born Herbert Robert Jones in Miami Fl., March 23, 1926, Mr. Jones began arranging and playing professionally at 14, attended Florida A & M College, before it expanded to a university, leaving just before graduation in 1950 to join the Lucky Millinder band in New York. He continued his arranging and composition studies in New York with Eddie Barefield and at several academies. Mr. Jones subsequently was a member of the Andy Kirk, Buddy Johnson, Cab Calloway and Mercer Ellington orchestras.
After leaving the Ellington band, Mr. Jones was the director for several years of Arts & Culture, Inc., a New York City-sponsored alternative school on 125th St., and as a volunteer, he directed the Bugle Corps of the Police Athletic League in Harlem for more than a decade.
He continued to teach, write and arrange and occasionally lead his own musical group until incapacitated by his illness.
He is survived by a brother Benjamin of Miami; two daughters, Jennifer of Mt. Vernon, NY, and Priscilla Carr of Lancaster, Ca.; a son, Herbert Jr. of Jersey City, and three granddaughters. Patricia Willard
Too much sad news!
Just before mailing the last Bulletin, I received the shocking news about Mark Tucker. A few days later, I received an e-mail from Erik Wiedemann with a copy of the New York Times obituary written by Ren Ratliff. Erik wrote: "Dear Sjef: sad news! Best wishes from Erik."
That was his last letter. With Erik Wiedemann, I lost another dear and irreplaceable friend.
More recent is the loss of my great friend and mentor, Don Miller, who died on March 16 at age 77.
Just before this Bulletin was ready, I learned of the death of Herbie Jones, three days later. Patricia Willard generously sent a copy of the obituary written for the New York Times, to be published in DEMS Bulletin.
Is the author of "Duke Ellington — Jazz Composer" (1990). Ken started in 1984 to publish in DEMS Bulletins a series of 55 transcriptions of solos by Ellingtonians. Due to trouble with his eyesight he had to give that up in 1995.
At the conference in Stockholm in 1994, I had the pleasure of introducing Ken to Benny Aasland.
DEMS received at the end of Jan01 a message from his solicitor, asking not to send the Bulletins any longer, since Ken is extremely ill and now residing permanently in a nursing home. He will not return home.
On Monday afternoon, January 15, Louie Bellson and his wife Francine, on foot, were crossing Ventura Blvd., the main artery of the San Fernando Valley (Southern California) at Van Nuys Blvd. in a crosswalk with the signal in their favor when a sports utility vehicle ran a red light and hit them head on with such force that the SUV was badly dented.
Louie took the brunt of the impact, was pushed into Francine, she hit the pavement, and he landed on top of her. She suffered multiple lacerations, abrasions, contusions and sprains. Louie has similar injuries plus a fractured pelvis and will be hospitalized until sometime next week. His physician predicts a full recovery but he will not be able to play for at least three months, during which he must have daily physical therapy.
Typically, Louie is upbeat, concentrating on how fortunate he is not to have been injured "more seriously" and delighted that his doctor has no objection to his having his drumsticks in the hospital, where he is working out on a practice pad.
If you want to wish them well, the Bellsons can be addressed at c/o Remo, Inc. 28101 W. Industry Dr., Valencia, CA 91355.
Patricia Willard (Louie's biographer)
9Feb01. Yes, of course, you may print my posting on the Bellsons.
Only update is that Francine subsequently was found also to have a
cracked rib and lung damage, and both are now receiving physical
therapy. Both are expected to make full recoveries within a few months.
Louie was discharged from the hospital Monday, February 5, somewhat
later than originally predicted. They maintain homes both in San Jose
and in Sherman Oaks, California. They will remain in Sherman Oaks for
medical treatment until they have made complete recoveries.
I'm sure Louie appreciates hearing from you.
A friend of mine in London is finishing up what will prove to be a fascinating biographical book about our old friend Adelaide Hall, only going up to her arrival in the UK in the late 30s where she stayed until her death in 1993. I knew her well, but didn't realize just HOW successful she had been around 1930.
He once asked her who had influenced her. Quite unaffectedly and without ego she replied. "Well, nobody. There WAS nobody before us". And it's true as far as Jazz in NYC is concerned. She was born in 1901 and HER generation built the foundation for others to build upon.
He's found all sorts of unknown stuff, including pictures from her time in Paris and a previously unpublished one of a fund-raiser for the NAACP back around 1930 with Addie, Duke and lots of other famous people all on stage at the same time! It's going to be FASCINATING!
My friend is looking for people who knew her to write a couple of paragraphs as a foreword. He would love, most of all, to get something from the woman who in effect took over from her in NYC and they remained friends ...... Lena Horne.
Any tips for contacting her gratefully accepted.
I have received the following notice (apparently originating from a British Music Hall Society publication) of yet another biography, which I understand will cover the full span of Adelaide's career including the many years in England.
"One of Britain's most distinguished show business writers STEPHEN BOURNE has been commissioned to write the biography of ADELAIDE HALL, affectionately known to her many fans as "ADDY". Stephen would like to hear from anyone who saw her on stage and he is also collecting material, such as theatre programmes and photographs, for a special Adelaide Hall collection at the Hammersmith and Fulham archives."
Stephen was closely acquainted with Adelaide Hall over her later years and also with Elisabeth Welch who, of course, is still alive. I am sure his book will be excellently researched so we have a wealth of material on Adelaide to look forward to.
I always thought that Ellington's piece ADDI was written for Cannonball Adderley — whom, I had heard, Duke had considered as a replacement for Hodges. Now it seems more likely that ADDI was for Adelaide.
Based on the prominent role of the alto sax in ADDI, I tend to consider the Cannonball theory more likely than the Adelaide theory. However it may mean something completely different, like "addition". It was always played at the end of a concert. Who knows?
Duke Ellington and his World
See DEMS 00/2-11
Austin Lawrence's new book will be published in March by Routledge. 552 pages, 54 photos. Price US$ 35, hardcover.
Duke Ellington's music for theatre
This book by John Franceschina will be out soon (they say) at McFarland. 224 pages. Price US$ 35, hardcover.
The King of All, Sir Duke
We found this unusual announcement of a new book about Ellington in a Duke-Lym discussion on Internet:
I am someone who grew up appreciating the innovations in rock song writing and production equally alongside the developments of jazz. I always try to point out that rock is not inferior to jazz, or vice versa; apples and oranges. May I quote from Ellington here?
"Recently I was asked whether I felt that jazz had moved a great distance away from its folk origins. With the present state of rock and roll music, I don't know how anyone can even consider asking such a question! Rock and roll is the most raucous form of jazz, beyond a doubt; it maintains a link with the folk origins, and I believe that no other FORM OF JAZZ has ever been accepted so enthusiastically by so many ... I'm not trying to imply by this that rock and roll shows any single trend, or indicates the only direction in which things are moving. It is simply one aspect of many.
I have written a number of rock and roll things myself, but am saving them for possible use in a show. As far as my own music in general is concerned, I would categorize it as Negro music."
I think Ellington himself always did a fantastic job of smashing our attempts at labelling music and putting things in a box. I know Ellington would have similar feelings on the Ken Burns series. Everything Ellington has said about jazz, and his own music, demonstrates this. Beginning this coming April/May, folks will have the chance to read my book, where I discuss how Ellington had a very direct influence on many rock bandleader/ composers such as James Brown, Frank Zappa, Stevie Wonder, and others. I feel it's important for younger fans of these artists to have an understanding of Ellington's impact on these people, quite outside the realm of jazz. I want to help in some way to take Ellington out of the jazz box, because he doesn't necessarily belong there, certainly he didn't think so.
There are also interviews in my book with our good friends Jerry Valburn, Morris Hodara, Luther Henderson, Butch Ballard, and Gunther Schuller.
What the heck, I figured I'd plug it now that I'm on this topic of discussion.
It's called "The King of All, Sir Duke", and is issued by Continuum Books in late April, around the time of Duke's birthday. There will be foreign printings as well.
Jazz: The First Century
Edited by John Edward Hasse.
New York: William Morrow, 2000.
This book combines essays written by respected jazz authorities with over 300 images of vintage photographs, sheet music covers, rare album jackets, posters, and more. In addition, seventy sidebars focus on important songs, key landmarks and personalities, conventions of jazz performance and composition, and the confluence of jazz with other art forms. Also included are results of an international survey of historians, educators, critics, musicians, and broadcasters regarding recommended recordings.
To purchase this book, visit http://www.cbmr.org/bookstore/jazzbook.htm#jazzthefirst
Center for Black Music Research
Those with a discographical bent - caused from the weight of all those heavy books - may find the following of interest.
My Brunswick Records Discography1916-1931 is now available from Greenwood Press.
There are 4 volumes but the volumes are available separately. A basic listing of the contents is available on the Greenwood site at www.greenwood.com (check under title or author name).
These volumes contain a LOT of previously unpublished material.... and even what has previously been published (by Rust and others) is frequently wrong, incomplete or inaccurate. There are MANY previously unlisted recordings by all kinds of famous and obscure people and even a whole session by Duke Ellington's Orchestra from 1931 (recorded in Chicago) which NOBODY has ever listed before!!!!
The recordings from this previously unknown Ellington session appear not to have been released but include the first attempt to record It Don't Mean A Thing and a previously unknown (to me) Ellington composition which was never subsequently recorded as far as I know....
These volumes will be a fascinating source of information on a previously little documented record label which had a great impact on the recording scene of the 1920s. There's also full details of all pre-1932 Melotone recordings and all 1925-1931 Vocalions.
Ross Laird Ross_Laird@screensound.gov.au
The Duke Ellington Masters
See DEMS 99/3-7 and 00/2-10
A few weeks ago I looked at the Amazon UK site, in particular for DE videos. About 15 minutes ago I finished watching two tapes of Duke's performance in Copenhagen, 1965. All I can say to all UK based members is: if you don't have them already - get these tapes, they're absolutely magnificent. The concert is almost as good as being there.
The Copenhagen concert of 31Jan65 is indeed available on video in PAL format on two tapes, together covering almost the complete concert in 1:53:30. See DEMS 00/2-10.
We saw these tapes advertised in Norbert Ruecker's March 2001 supplement. The first set caries number QL 0178 and the second QL 0194. Price is DM 49.90 plus shipping.
Norbert can be reached at Postfach 14, D-61382 Schmitten in Germany.
This concert is also available on one DVD, running 112 minutes, Quantum Leap/Digivision UK 0246. Amazon UK is charging o 19.- (GBP) plus shipping. They will accept US credit cards. Street Online in the UK is also selling it. It is an all regions disc. It played in my US region 1 player. It is encoded in PAL. North American users need a player with a PAL to NTSC converter. This is also true for the DVD Duke/Ella at the Cote d'Azur, Laser Swing/Mawa Switzerland 601, distributed in the UK by Direct Video. See DEMS 00/2-9.