| THE INTERNATIONAL|
DUKE ELLINGTON MUSIC SOCIETY
01/2 August - November 2001
FOUNDER: BENNY AASLAND
Voort 18b, 2328 Meerle, Belgium
Telephone: +32 3 315 75 83
The Duke Ellington Masters
See DEMS 01/1-6
Earlier messages have referred to the video presentation called
"the Duke Ellington Masters: The First and Second Sets" (two VHS
tapes; one DVD) which are available in Europe but not yet –
perhaps never – in North America.
Because of the incompatibility of the European PAL and North American NTSC television standards for videotapes and regional coding for DVDs, the presentations can only be viewed in the States and Canada with special equipment.
How vexing, then, to discover that there are in fact three different "First and Second Sets" spread across three DVDs. All have been originally recorded by Danish Radio and Television in Copenhagen. The disks are produced – for the UK at least – by Quantum Leap Group Limited, and their web site advertising the disks is as follows: http://www.qleap.co.uk/acatalog/Online_Catalogue_DVD_47.html.
The first DVD, released in February, was recorded, according to the web-site, on 31Jan65 at the Falcon Theater. (Is this the same venue as the Falconer Center where the concerts for Ellington '92 were held?1)
The second, scheduled to be released on 21May (according to Amazon UK), chronicles concerts taped in a studio on 23Jan67.
The third, no release date given, captures concerts at Tivoli on 2Nov69.2
There is no way to make PAL VHS tapes work on a standard NTSC machine. Among other differences, PAL and NTSC tapes move across the machine's tape heads at different speeds. DVDs are a different matter. Many of the region 2 (Europe) disks of old black and white material that I've seen in fact have no regional coding at all and can be played on a standard region 1 (North American) machine – or anywhere else, I guess. The UK release of the Ella and Duke material from the Cote-d'Azur is like that and I believe an earlier post said that the first of this current crop of DVDs is also region-free. (DEMS 01/1-6)
With luck, the others will be as well. Discovering whether or not these or any other disks are region-free is not easy. All of the advertisements I've seen claim that these disks are only playable in Europe. Vendors like Amazon UK appear to slap such a notice routinely on all of their DVDs whether it accurately describes them or not.
The reviews I've seen of the Copenhagen material released so far claim that it is exceptional, with very good sound and picture quality. Surely, there would be a North American market for it. Yet, one might wait for a very long time. The Ella and Duke material, never released here, is now perhaps unobtainable anywhere. Amazon says it is out of print.
1 Well, I was present at the conference. I was one of
the lecturers. To the best of my memory the concert by the radio big
band with Clark Terry and Arne Domnerus was performed on the big
concert stage, whereas some of the presentations were done in some of
the smaller rooms.
2 Release date was June.
The 31Jan65 concert is released in Japan on two NTSC videotapes,
Suncrow CRVE-5121 and 5122. The recordings made on 23Jan67 are
released in Japan on one NTSC videotape CRVE-5123. See DEMS 00/2-10.
We hope that the other releases by the Duke Ellington Masters on
videotape will also be made available on NTSC tape for the Japanese
and USA markets.
I am not sure that the difference between the NTSC and the PAL
system has to do with the speed of the tape touching the magnetic
heads. I understood that it was a matter of the number of lines on a
screen. NTSC, being the first system, has 500 lines and PAL, which
came later, has 625 lines (this gave the name to the famous BBC
telecasts "Jazz 625"). I have no experience with PAL tapes played
back on a NTSC monitor, but some VCRs can play back both PAL and NTSC
tapes on a PAL monitor although they are not fit for making copies
from one system into the other. If you play an NTSC tape on PAL
equipment which is not suitable, the sound comes through correctly,
that makes me conclude that the speed is the same.
Norbert Ruecker and Steve Voce have sent us a listing of the video
releases of "the Duke Ellington Masters", produced by Quantum Leap.
We combine both lists and include the earlier releases. The playing
times are very different.
Black and white unless specified.
Here are the videotapes:
QL 0178, 1st Set, Falkoner Teatret, 31Jan65, 58 min.
QL 0179, trio, Danish Radio Studio, 23Jan67, 33 min.
QL 0182, octet, Danish Radio Studio, 23Jan67, 25 min.
QL 0187, 1st Set, Tivoli, 7Nov71, 69 min. Colour.
QL 0189, 1st Set, Tivoli, 2Nov69, 53 min. Colour.
QL 0190, 2nd Set, Tivoli, 2Nov69, 30 min. Colour.
QL 0192, 2nd Set, Tivoli, 7Nov71, 73 min. Colour.
QL 0194, 2nd Set, Falkoner Teatret, 31Jan65, 55 min.
And here are the DVDs:
QLDVD 0246, 2 Sets, Falkoner Teatret, 31Jan65, 112 min.
QLDVD 0249, Danish Radio Studio, 23Jan67, 58 min.
QLDVD 0252, 2 Sets, Tivoli, 2Nov69, 83 min. Colour.
QLDVD 0253, 2 Sets, Tivoli, 7Nov71, 142 min. Colour.
I found the cheapest DVDs (ś 14.99 each) at
http://www.play247.com/. They supply from the British island Jersey
and are not willing to ship to the USA. You may need an all region
PAL player and a friend in Europe.
Donald Wolff, USA**
In DEMS 99/3-7 the time for the complete concert of 2Nov69 seems
to be 2 hours and 3 minutes. The correct time of the complete concert
is 1 hour, 23 minutes. The time for the second set is not 36 (as
claimed on the sleeve) but only 30 minutes.
The Tivoli concert of 2Nov69 is mentioned in DEMS 84/5-5 and in
Erik Wiedemann's article in Musik&Forskning #13, with a wrong
title for Drag. It was called Layin' on Mellow.
Parts of both Tivoli concerts of 7Nov71 were used for the documentary "A Duke Named Ellington."
Here are the selections of the 31Jan65 concert:
Take the "A" Train; Midriff; Afro-Bossa; "Ad Lib on Nippon": Fugi, Igoo, Nagoya, Tokyo; The Opener; Chelsea Bridge; Blow by Blow; "Black" from "Black, Brown and Beige": Work Song, Come Sunday, Montage. Intermission.
Take the "A" Train; Satin Doll; Sophisticated Lady; Meow; Meow (encore); Passion Flower; Things Ain't What They Used to Be; Jeep's Blues; Perdido; Tootie for Cootie; Award presentation to Alex Riel and greetings to Freddie Crump; Kinda Dukish & Rockin' in Rhythm; Take the "A" Train (Billy Strayhorn, piano); He Huffed 'n' Puffed.
Here are the selections of the 23Jan67 tele-recording in the
sequence as performed:
Trio: Le Sucrier Velours; Lotus Blossom; The Second Portrait of the Lion; Meditation; Eggo; Mood Indigo; Take the "A" Train. Octet: Take the "A" Train; PassionFlower; The Jeep Is Jumpin'; Sophisticated Lady; Tippin' and Whisperin'; Happy Reunion; Satin Doll; Jam with Sam; Things Ain't What They Used to Be.
Here are the selections of the 2Nov69 concert: C-Jam Blues; Kinda Dukish & Rockin' in Rhythm; 4:30 Blues; Take the "A" Train; Up Jump; La Plus Belle Africaine; Come Off the Veldt; El Gato; Black Butterfly; Things Ain't What They Used to Be; Drag; Satin Doll; Come Sunday; It Don't Mean a Thing; Be Cool and Groovy for Me; Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue; Satin Doll; Black Swan.
Here are the selections of the second 7Nov71 concert:
C-Jam Blues; Kinda Dukish & Rockin' in Rhythm; Happy Reunion; Cotton Tail; I Got It Bad; Take the "A" Train; Fife; Chinoiserie; Satin Doll; Things Ain't What They Used to Be; In Quadruplicate; Come Off the Veldt; Medley: Prelude to a Kiss, Do Nothin' till You Hear from Me, In a Sentimental Mood, I Let a Song Go out of My Heart & Don't Get Around Much Anymore, Mood Indigo, I'm Beginning to See the Light, Solitude, Love You Madly, Sophisticated Lady, Caravan; Hello, Dolly!; One More Time for the People.
Tivoli Gardens - 2Nov69
See DEMS 99/3-7.
French TV-channel MEZZO repeatedly showed during March and April 2001 the Copenhagen Tivoli concert ("DE in the Tivoli Gardens") from 02Nov69 = DESOR 6946, with the only exception of Summer Samba 6946m. Very nice and superb quality program of 83 minutes in colour. French SECAM recordings of this concert will show in black and white on PAL VCRs.
There must have been some trouble during Summer Samba. The audio recording is mutilated.
See DESOR's description of 6946m on page 1166.
The video recording documented the presence of Harold Johnson, the trumpet-player with glasses, who stayed in the band for only three days.
Early in 1996 the same concert was telecast by the Danish television in the program "Jazz omkring midnat". In this program the introduction by George Wein, and the first selection, C-Jam Blues were missing. Not only Summer Samba was deleted but also the three selections with Tony Watkins were missing: Come Sunday, It Don't Mean a Thing and Be Cool and Groovy for Me.
French TV-Film "La Légende
A recent film, shown on French public television FR3, contains some hitherto unknown Duke Ellington sequences.
"La Légende Du Duke" is a French production with interviews of Louie Bellson, Aaron Bell, Clark Terry, Jimmy Woode, Harold Singer, Frank Ténot and others during the 1999 summer jazz festivals in Vienne and Marciac, France. They all recall moments and experiences with Duke; Hal Singer adding a beautiful version of In a Sentimental Mood, while Aaron Bell (on piano!) and Jimmy Woode offer In a Mellotone (both in 1999).
The longer Ellington sequences are from two different occasions, spread over the 50 minutes film and – leaving out all musical parts with comments overdubbed – can be summarised as follows:
The first portion must be from a concert in October 1963 (there are four excerpts starting at minutes 7, 10, 23 and 26 in the film):
- Duke arrives on stage in a white dress aand this obviously is the beginning of a concert, although no sound is heard on the tape. This is followed by
- All of Me 0:56% (%) with JH, no DDE on screen,
- Tutti for Cootie %1:29% (%) with CW, no DE on screen,
- One More Once 1:29 (probably shorrtened/edited) with Ernie Shepard bass/vocal, Duke on screen but wearing a different, dark coat.
This apparently is an indoor performance with clearly a far-eastern audience and although on stage "VoA" and "Chicago Radio"-mikes can be identified, the location seems to be India. The concert ends with Duke and the band-members wearing flower-collars and the portion fades out with the indication "The End – AMA Production".
With Sjef Hoefsmit's help we can try to be more specific on the date of this part: Ray Nance's absence and the replacement by Patrick Blake (the white fellow with glasses in the trumpet section) brings the date to between 20Sep and 20oct63. The fact that Duke became ill on 24Sep (MIMM p312) and was not back with the band before 8oct, again narrows down the possible dates. On these (short) excerpts we never see Duke at the piano and it is Jimmy Hamilton who gives the sign to finish One More Once, although Duke is present but seems to have just arrived on stage. This suggest that Duke is still recovering from his illness, "only playing the Medley" (MIMM p318) and points to a mid-October date. New DESOR 6370, 6371, 6372 and 6374 however can be excluded for evident reasons, as well as Bombay 10oct (6373) because the existing audio-tape from this occasion is definitely different.
In the end therefore, there are only two possible dates for this portion:
-14/15oct at the Sherazade Grand Hotel in Calcutta: but according to MIMM p318 all the Calcutta concerts took place in the hotel's courtyard .
-11oct in Bombay during an extra concert ((because initially 11oct was scheduled as a free day).
The second portion most probably is from the same Middle East/India tour but later than 20oct because Herbie Jones has taken over Ray Nance's trumpet chair (the excerpts can be found at minutes 4, 12, 14, 27, 39, 44 and 48 in the film).
Again an indoor performance; it offers the following sequence:
- Medley (Satin Doll/Solitude) %1:223% (%%)
- Afro Bossa %2:01% (%%)
- Guitar Amour %1:12% (%%)
- Wailing Interval %2:26 (%%)
- Lush Life 3:06 (%%)
- Take the "A" Train 0:18%
This time Duke is always present and active and he has obviously fully recovered from his illness. The most notable passage here is Billy Strayhorn's solo performance of Lush Life on piano, without his usual vocal part and the following Take the "A" Train, introduced by Duke and played by Billy and the orchestra.
These titles cannot be from 24oct Kandy (6375) or 3Nov Karachi (6376), because the existing audio-tapes do not fit the soundtrack. No other recordings are documented in DESOR or any other discography and the concert tour ended abruptly on 22Nov63 (JFK assassination). Very probably however this part comes from one of the remaining dates (Klaus Stratemann p476) between 1Nov in Karachi and 20Nov in Beirut. Can live telecasts from 5Nov Teheran or 14Nov be the source? Can anyone help?
During private conversation, Eric Dietlin from French producer VIVA kindly enough offered some additional insight concerning the document's origin: Both sequences are part of longer, but obviously incomplete, documents existing at the Library Of Congress in Washington and they are available – not easy, though possible – (free from rights) through NARA = National Archives And Record Administration, College Park, MD. These and other similar films were made by the US Information Services (USIS), but in our case apparently do not reveal dates and locations. In connection with Afro Bossa for instance appear a reference #994292, the name of Bombay and the date of 20Dec63. Afro Bossa however cannot be from Bombay and 20Dec63 more likely is a date in connection with some film-registration files. Hopefully, VIVA-PRODUCTIONS will be able to find a way to make this immensely interesting documentary available to an international audience.
Duke's Diary - Part Two - by Ken Vail
DEMS contacted Ken Vail about the publication of the second volume of Duke's Diary. This is Ken's answer:
I have signed contracts with Scarecrow Press for them to produce DUKE’S DIARY, both volumes, in hardback. I have sent a disc containing Vol 2 to them so now it is up to Scarecrow. They mentioned publication in the Fall, but you know how long it took for Eddie Lambert’s book to materialise. I live in hope. Best regards,
See DEMS 01/1-6
Ross Laird's Brunswick discographies published by Greenwood Press 2001.
I have so far purchased volume 2 (New York recordings 1927-1931)
as I, like many others, wanted to find out more about "the odd
sessions" like the "Brunswick Brevities" and "National Radio
Advertisers, Inc." recordings. I take that you are familiar with
Brian Rust's "The Victor Master Book", volume 2, published back in
the early 1970s so you already have an idea of the general layout.
Mr. Laird is reprinting the company ledgers with all their mistakes,
you have to countercheck with actual pressings to get it right. The
"takes" used on the 78 rpm pressings aren't listed in the files, so
whenever records have been located the takes are indicated. Test
pressings only issued on LPs and CDs are not listed, thus you get the
impression that they still are "unissued" from consulting Mr. Laird's
Files turned over to Decca/MCA have survived and some others appears to be stored at CBS/SONY but the all-important "block" of New York ledgers between 3Feb29 and11Dec30 are missing so here you get some snippets of accurate data taken from surviving pressings, the rest are reconstructed from catalogues. Many master numbers are just skipped ("no details") where others are listed and thus you can fill in info like titles and the names of performers if and when you have located the pressings !
The Chicago 1931 session with Duke has previously been listed by Steven Lasker in his booklet notes to "Early Ellington", the 3 CD set on MCA (1994) and as Mr. Lasker provides much more details for ALL Duke's Vocalion & Brunswick sessions you really don't need to purchase this Brunswick discography at all.
The 18Dec29 session with Bill Robinson tap-dancing (?) to the Duke's orchestra (the Lasker booklet, page 48) has escaped Mr. Laird, he only lists the masters numbers with the comment "no details", no titles and no recording date are listed.
Ross mentions a Chicago session "which NOBODY has ever listed
before!!!!" Actually, the session of 11Aug31 was mentioned in my
notes to GRP GRD-3-640 (p50), and the session is also found in
Timner's fourth edition (p16), although not in DESOR. See photocopies
of ledger sheets on page 13 [below:].
The first title is shown as a "private recording" – making this
the very earliest stockpile recording. Too bad it’s lost.
Luciano Massagli and Giovanni Volonté decided not to
include in DESOR recordings which, it is almost certain, nobody will
ever enjoy hearing because they are lost.
John Franceschina, Duke
Ellington's Music for the Theatre, McFarland & Company, Inc.,
Jefferson (NC) and London 2000, pp. 250.
John Franceschina is a professor of theatre arts who teaches at Pennsylvania University, but once this book has been read by the Ellington community he will also be acknowledged as an authority on Ellington. The book is the first complete review of all the music Ellington wrote for the stage, from the musical theatre to cabaret revue, from ballet music to incidental music and opera; issued and unissued, produced and unproduced. To be a successful Broadway composer was probably one of Ellington’s highest aims. Over the course of his life he had several opportunities to write music for Broadway shows, butthe results of most of these were never produced or were failures.
The book is in eleven chapters. Six of these analyze the cabaret revues and the musicals Ellington wrote or attempted to produce. The seventh chapter is on incidental music, the eighth on musical comedies, the ninth on ballet music and the tenth on opera. An eleventh chapter summarizes the relationships between Ellington's music and career and his compositions for the theatre, and adds a list of shows based on his music produced after his death. The useful appendix lists 72 shows, the ones composed by Ellington himself and those assembled after his death, with titles, opening night dates and locations, song lists, authors of book, lyrics and choreography. There is much more information on cast and credits in the text.
As an historian of theatre and musical theatre, Franceschina is able to shed light on the history of each work. He explains the complete scenarios, scene by scene; describes every song written or sketched (sometimes quoting a few bars in musical notation, although connections between music and action are described in general terms). More than all this, by describing the production history of each show he discloses for jazz readers an incredible amount of fresh information, and collects in a meaningful framework many facts which already known, but which are scattered about the literature. Relying on manuscripts held at the Ellington collections, on sources from the theatre or ballet literature, and on sketches, letters and reviews, Franceschina shows us how much time, energy and creativity Ellington spent on these theatrical projects. There are a lot of songs and compositions, either sketched or through-composed, that have never been heard. Some of these, in Franceschina’s opinion, rank among the best music Ellington ever wrote.
Why is so much of this music now forgotten? Why did so many shows remain unproduced? Franceschina offers several answers in the last chapter. Ellington preferred to front his band on its tours - his primary financial income. He realised that the production of stage music requires that some rules must be followed; but did Ellington ever follow someone else’s rules in composing his music?
This book, then, is a must for any reader interested in discovering the wider range of Ellington’s music. It will be the standard reference for any further study on the subject, and it's difficult to imagine that anyone will surpass the rich wealth of information packed within its covers. As I’ve said, connections between music and action are here analyzed in general terms, although the author points out the dramatic essence of all Ellington’s music, on and beyond the stage. Armed with the information contained in this book, it is now time to direct our attention to the dramatic organization of Duke’s compositions. All his works tell a story; we can now discover their language (see for example the essay by Marcello Piras on the Internet at http://www.metastasio.it/jazz99/jazz99.html)
Ben Webster: "His Life And Music"
by Jeroen de Valk, Berkeley Hills $15.95 paperback
Jeroen de Valk, the Dutch author of the first English-language biography of Chet Baker, has produced the first-ever volume on Duke's great tenor star Ben Webster (updated from a Dutch-language version which appeared in 1992).
Drawing on interviews, print sources from U.S.A., England, Denmark and Holland, and no fewer than three films (especially John Jeremy's "The Brute and the Beautiful") de Valk describes Webster's slow rise to fame, climaxing with his albums for Norman Granz in the 1950s.
Even then, Ben was somewhat itinerant, spending time back home in Kansas City and alternating between New York and Los Angeles in search of employment. In the mid-1960s he moved to Copenhagen, then Amsterdam and back to Copenhagen, fighting severe problems with both alcohol and obesity, and his end makes sad reading.
As with the Baker book, the author takes seriously the task of ranking Ben's albums, especially the numerous releases (legal and otherwise) from the European period. I cannot entirely agree with de Valk's dismissal of his subject's riff tunes with the words, "Webster wasn't a born composer‚" which anyway is contradicted by the statement that his "best solos sound like rounded compositions". Leaving aside the famous Cotton Tail, a tune he rightly attributes to the tenor-man, he fails to identify as a Webster original the moving Love's Away (30Mar54) and doesn't even mention Ben's delightful saxophone quartet pieces for the Fontana album he calls "Americans In Europe" (originally issued as "Tenor Of Jazz", 16Apr67). But the descriptions of Webster's playing, and of the gradual evolution of his wholly unique style, are sufficient to earn the book an unreserved welcome.
A slightly shortened version of this review appeared in Jazzwise
magazine, and it appears here by permission.
Lavezzoli, Peter, "The King of
All, Sir Duke —
Ellington and the Artistic Revolution"
New York: Continuum, 2001.
Of all the books written during the Ellington centennial and its aftermath, "The King of All, Sir Duke," is distinguished by perhaps having the youngest author. Barely in his thirties, drummer and writer Peter Lavezzoli’s first book is an exploration and appreciation of the Ellington legacy. His hypothesis is that Ellington inspired an artistic revolution. After two readings, I’m not convinced this artistic revolution ever happened. Haven’t humans been expressing themselves musically for thousands of years? Peter demonstrates Ellington’s similarities to several other composer/bandleaders, including popular African-American musicians Stevie Wonder (who’s 1976 tribute, "Sir Duke" provided the title to the book), George Clinton, and Prince. In so doing, Lavezzoli is reminding us of Ellington’s position in the world of popular music. He’s made some good choices of pop musicians who attained Duke’s level of popularity while artfully making music sharing Ellingtonian characteristics of quality, inventiveness, expression and "swing" or "funk," "rock," "rhythm and blues," or whatever title is in vogue. Ellington fans who tuned out popular music after 1950, please take my word for it.
Lavezzoli offers Miles Davis’ famous quote that "All musicians should get together on their knees one day and thank Duke Ellington." This is where Lavezzoli could offer some examples of the many things Ellington did for improving opportunities and working conditions for black artists and entertainers, while defeating stereotypes. Detailing lines of artistic influence is a more difficult proposition. In most cases, it is Lavezzoli rather than the artist who is citing the influence. Lavezzoli’s work suffers when he makes sweeping statements about Ellington such as, "For the first time, a composer has become a bandleader." For the first time? Ever? What about in ancient Egypt? Or what about Bach? Or during the 20th Century, didn’t Jelly Roll Morton record before Duke?
Lavezzoli’s proposition that Ellington inspired an artistic revolution of freedom of expression is rather grandiose. Yet, I doubt that there is anyone reading the DEMS Bulletin who has never been guilty of hyperbole on behalf of our favorite composer. Lavezzoli’s book reminds me of the contentious discussions I had when I was his age. As a radio announcer in the late 70s and early 80s for a non-commercial WPFW in Washington, DC, I was involved in an ongoing debate over the format of the station among proponents of jazz (and jazz only), and blues, funk, and reggae. We all found common ground in Sun Ra (who is one of the musicians in the book). Sun Ra was our Ellington. Ra brought his big-band Arkestra to DC about half a dozen times a year, and his show usually included Ellington/Strayhorn works "’A’ Train" and "Lighting." One of the provocative statements I recall was that Sun Ra was the link between Ellington and George Clinton’s Parliament/Funkadelic. It was great conversation and helped me to hear what was going on in popular music. Nothing was settled but we Ellington fans were challenged to communicate the music we loved to a wider audience, something Duke himself knew how to do.
Lavezzoli seeks to bridge generations. I wish Lavezzoli had brought his book even more up-to-date to the music of his generation. As always, today’s young black musicians are endlessly inventive, as their music takes on new titles such as hip-hop, jungle (now where did they get that from?), drums’n’bass, dub, dancehall, and on and on. Hot funky music, nearly naked dancers, and gangsters: is it the Cotton Club or Jay-Z’s latest video?
There’s a lot to appreciate and commend in "The King of All, Sir Duke." Ellington fans will enjoy Lavezzoli’s interviews with drummer Butch Ballard (best-heard on Ellington’s 1953 Capitol piano-trio recording), and arranger/orchestrator Luther Henderson, who discuss Ellington’s methods of composing and bandleading. Gunther Schuller, an authority on music of all kinds, is an excellent choice for helping discuss Ellington’s position in the larger world of music. Lavezzoli assesses the current state of the Ellington legacy. His interviews with Morris Hodara discussing TDES, and Jerry Valburn revealing his remarkable life as a collector "beyond category," by themselves make the book worth picking up.
It is appropriate that the young author closes his book with this appreciation of the generation that grew up with Ellington. Their dedication to preserving and promoting Ellington’s legacy is ensuring that Duke’s music will continue to be heard by and inspire not only by Lavezzoli’s generation, but many to come.