DUKE ELLINGTON MUSIC SOCIETY
03/3 December 2003 - March 2004
FOUNDER: BENNY AASLAND
Voort 18b, Meerle, Belgium
Telephone: +32 3 315 75 83
03/3 DEMS 1
"When I was with Duke I learned an
awful lot. I had four degrees, but I always tell anyone that I
learned more at the School of Ellington than at any of the other
Aaron Bell was perhaps the least known of Duke Ellington's bass players, but he was certainly one of the best and with the band (1960-62) during one of Ellington's most productive periods. Thus Bell is heard at his most telling in Ellington's lengthy versions of "The Nutcracker" and "Peer Gynt" Suites. On the face of it Tchaikovsky's and Grieg's masterpieces might have been best left alone by a jazz orchestra, but Ellington and his collaborator Billy Strayhorn managed to rework the material in a way that was relevant, charming and respectful to both composers.
Bell was also the pivot for the first and only recording sessions that Ellington had with the tenor saxophone player Coleman Hawkins (Aug62) and the avant garde saxophonist John Coltrane (Sep62). The ease with which Ellington accommodated Coltrane showed that the maestro had nothing to learn from the new "free form" players of the time.
Bell's mother was a piano teacher and taught him to play. He switched to brass instruments while in high school and then, when studying at Xavier University in New Orleans, to double bass. He played with several bands in the city and gained his B A in music before eventually being called into the US Navy in 1942. Four years of playing in Navy bands culminated in his joining Andy Kirk's band in 1946.
He toured with Kirk for a year and left while the band was in New York to finish his education at New York University where he picked up his Master of Arts degree. He toured with Lucky Millinder's band for two years in the early Fifties until he was able to get a regular job in New York, playing in pianist Teddy Wilson's quartet with Buck Clayton at The Embers. He worked concurrently for several leaders, including the pianists Dorothy Donegan and Eddie Heywood. More significantly he toured for two years with the tenor player Lester "Prez" Young where the pianist was John Lewis.
"It was with Prez that I first got nerve enough to take a solo. He'd say 'Go ahead and take it, Professor'. He called me that because he knew about my studies."
Offered more money, he joined Cab Calloway's band, but the band broke up six months later when Calloway took up his famed role as Sportin' Life on Broadway in "Porgy and Bess". Bell found work in the trios of Herman Chittison and Billy Taylor, and led his own trio, with which he recorded in 1955 and 1958. He backed Carmen McRae in 1959 and worked in the Broadway show "Compulsion".
When Ellington first approached him, Bell turned him down because he had a job with the singer Dick Haymes. But Ellington persisted and Bell joined Ellington in April 1960. With drummer Sam Woodyard, he formed one of the most effective rhythm sections that the band ever had.
With Ellington he appeared in the film Duke Ellington and his Orchestra (1962) and on leaving Ellington in The Cool World as a member of Dizzy Gillespie's band.
For the next ten years he worked in Broadway pit bands and began teaching at Essex College in Newark, New Jersey from 1970. He continued to work at the college until the early Nineties, becoming chairman of its performing arts department in 1977. He was appointed composer in residence at La Mama, an experimental theatre in New York from 1969 to 1972.
Never short of work, he came to Europe in 1978 with two ex-Ellington saxophone players, Norris Turney and Harold Ashby. The next year he came back to Europe in an Ellington alumni band led by trumpeter Cat Anderson.
Bell took up the piano again, and in later years played the instrument more often than the bass and also developed his composing activities. In 1983 he celebrated the anniversary of Ellington's birth (Ellington died in 1974) with a concert at St Peter's Lutheran Church in Manhattan. For this he assembled a 14 piece band to play his "Memorial Suite for Duke". He played in Europe again with Clark Terry's Spacemen in 1989.
Over the years Bell had recorded with Billie Holiday, Johnny Hodges, Jimmy Rushing and Lester Young, amongst many others.
Samuel Aaron Bell, bassist, pianist, composer: born Muskogee, Oklahoma 24 April 1922; married (two daughters, three sons); died New York 28 July 2003.
This obituary by Steve Voce appeared in the Independent.
03/3 DEMS 1
30 July 2003.
I just received the sad news that Luther Henderson passed away
last night in New York.
Luther has waged a very valiant fight with cancer. He showed tremendous courage and fortitude during this past year. I will always remember him for his invaluable contributions to the Ellington and Strayhorn legacies and for his monumental musicianship in general. I also enjoyed knowing him as a person. He was a very kind and thoughtful individual.
Peace to his memory.
Alyce A. Claerbaut
Luther Henderson, a prolific arranger and conductor on Broadway
whose deft touch in orchestrating jazz was prized by Duke Ellington,
died on Tuesday (29Jul) at a hospice in Manhattan. He was 84 and
lived in Manhattan.
The cause was cancer, said his wife, the theater director and actor Billie Allen.
Mr. Henderson worked on more than 50 Broadway musicals, including "Ain't Misbehavin'," "Do Re Mi," "Flower Drum Song," "Play On!" and the 1971 revival of "No, No, Nanette."
He worked with Richard Rodgers, Jule Styne, Lena Horne and Ellington among others.
For "Jelly's Last Jam," a hit in 1992 for which he received a Tony nomination, he also took songs and musical fragments by Jelly Roll Morton and rearranged them into new songs. Morton's "Salty Dog," for example, was transformed into "That's How You Jazz."
"Nobody knows how to classify me or the music when it comes to this musical," Mr. Henderson said in an interview with The New York Times in 1992. "I call myself a G.P., a general practitioner."
His skill was in transforming the rhythm and texture of jazz written for small ensembles into the much larger - but less flexible - Broadway pit orchestra.
The finesse and ease of his final product obscured the difficult cerebral work that went into it.
"The job lies in the deconstruction of the music to discover its basic anatomy," he said of his work on "Jelly's Last Jam," "and the subsequent reconstruction and re-development of the music to meet these demands, as well as to preserve the essence of the jazz from which it is sprung."
He also arranged the music of Fats Waller in "Ain't Misbehavin'," which opened in 1978 and ran for almost four years. But his closest association was with Ellington, who first hired him in 1946 to orchestrate "Beggar's Holiday," the only Ellington musical produced on Broadway.
Mr. Henderson worked with Ellington and Billy Strayhorn frequently in the 1940's and 50's as their works became longer, bigger and more complex.
"He dubbed me his classical arm," Mr. Henderson said of Ellington in a 2000 interview in The Times. "I had my Juilliard training. And he wanted me to legitimize him in this society we call classical musical. I didn't know that then. It's taken me 50 years to figure that out."
In 2000 he was honored at a Carnegie Hall concert with (his son-in-law) Sir Simon Rattle and the Orchestra of St. Luke's that featured his Ellington arrangements.
As an arranger, Mr. Henderson sometimes worked anonymously. After arranging music for one of Ellington's Carnegie Hall concerts, Mr. Henderson requested that his name be in the program.
"I wanted to be sure I got credit for what I'd done," he said. "And Duke, he said to me: 'Yes, oh yes. Of course.' But when I went down to Carnegie Hall before the concert to see if my name was in the program, it was not. I had to have inserts printed up: 'Symphonic orchestrations by Luther Henderson.' I didn't like him for that. Which was very hard for me. Because I loved the Duke."
This was an excerpt of the obituary, written by Ben Sisario for
the New York Times in which it appeared on 1Aug03.
Karl Emil Knudsen
03/3 DEMS 2
Karl Emil Knudsen passed away
yesterday, Friday, September 5th. Death caused by a
coronary thrombosis after only two weeks in hospital.
Karl Emil was the long time owner and producer of Storyville Records and the publishing company Jazz Media Aps. Throughout his career he owned several other record labels, and was heavily involved in jazz reissues.
Truly depressing news from Doug Pomeroy - the passing of Karl
Knudsen in Copenhagen. Karl was the last remaining super-champion
of traditional jazz in Europe.
It was he who released the latest great body of Ellingtonia, and let us not forget the enormous contributions of his Jazz Media Books.
Losing Karl and Henri Renaud in the same year is a bitter blow. Thank you, Karl, for a lifetime of good works.
I am stunned. I met with Mr. Knudsen only two months ago and we
were talking about future projects. What a loss. He had some great
things planned for Ellington listeners.
I thank "Papa" for the opportunity to write about my favorite subject - and for all the great recordings he made available for us.
Mr. Knudsen intervened when the Storyville CD "Duke in Munich"
almost got shelved. He personally saw to it, early this year, that
the CD was produced. He called me to make sure the liner notes were
all in order and even though he had a hearing problem, he was patient
enough to listen to my detailed corrections. And had them all
He leaves a treasure, and we should all be very grateful.
I knew Karl Emil Knudsen slightly while with the American Embassy
in Copenhagen (1965-70). He was an amiable, efficient Danish
businessman with a passionate interest in jazz. I fully agree that
the scope of his contributions is irreplaceable.
A discreet, but influential personality in Danish Jazz history has
passed away, all too soon. Karl Emil Knudsen’s major effort to
document Danish jazz through his record and film label
SONET/STORYVILLE cannot be appreciated too much. Some of the biggest
names among the Jazz, Blues and Gospel artists were to be found in
his catalog. He could come around as very edgy, and drive a hard
bargain, but beneath all of this, he was a very kind and generous
person. To share everything in his invaluable collection of records,
movies, and books with fellow jazz lovers, was only one way to show
his generosity. To me, it was like stepping into Aladdin’s cave
and it has given me many exciting and instructive musical
experiences. I hope this collection will be treated in the best
Illness was unfortunately a severe part of his life, but his unfailing energy was always the winner in the end, until he had to give up. In jazz, one does not get rich on mammon, but in so many other ways, jazz enriched Karl Emil’s life, the same way it has done for many others. Danish jazz has lost a cornerstone, and I will miss his friendship and our small conversations between the thousands of records in his collection.
Ole ‘"Fessor" Lindgreen
For those who didn't have the pleasure of knowing him: Karl Emil
Knudsen was a man who truly loved the music and dedicated his life to
discovering, recording and disseminating it, first in sound, then
also in sight. Later, he also became a publisher of discographies of
the highest quality, and, after years of laborious organization, Bill
Russell's epic "Oh, Mister Jelly." KEK, as he was fondly known, began
as a collector and remained one at heart all his life. Nothing
pleased him more than unearthing some hitherto unknown performance,
on disc, tape or film, and then (unlike some of the collecting ilk)
sharing his discovery with the public, but this always only after
having found, more often than not through diligent digging, who had
rights, and coming to terms with the owners. He did so even after
everything in recorded music seemed to become fair game for anyone
able to produce a CD, and paid good money (which he could ill afford)
to issue legitimate, quality product even when bootleggers had
already issued it in shoddy form. Karl Emil started as a lover of
traditional jazz, and kept a place in his heart for that music. It
was a great pleasure for him to be able to celebrate the
50th anniversary of his label with a bonanza survey of
classic Danish Trad, larded with a soupcon of visitors, such as a
still young Chris Barber.
But his musical horizon broadened with the years, and he became responsible for some great nuggets of Warne Marsh, Dexter, Monk and others who never came near a banjo or washboard. Typically, he was at the end embarked on a truly major Ellington project (the Treasury Broadcasts) and a marvellous series of Live Tatum material. And on his publishing schedule was a definitive discography of Louis Armstrong. In later years, he called himself Doctor in Jazz Archaeology–a just title. The future of his legacy is now in the hands of fate. Aside from jazz, Karl Emil loved football (what Americans call soccer), the main reason for his big-screen satellite TV. And as, alas, he lost his ability to properly listen to music, watching games (and finding jazz on film or video that he at least could see) became his great pleasure in life. He also loved modern art and was a connoisseur in particular of graphic arts and had a fine collection of prints and books. But not only books on art, and jazz, but also on Danish humor (not an inconsiderable subject, as Danes happily know), theatre, film and other things. But with all his interests, he was the most unpretentious and straightforward of men, as well as the most helpful. Some of you will have experienced his generous hospitality at first hand, and I think that when he lost that great big beautiful apartment of his, due to a change of landlords, his biggest regret was that he could now only accommodate one guest at the time. I first met Karl Emil well before the advent of Jazzpar, and had already experienced his hospitality to me and my family (fortunately, my boys behaved well and didn't break or dislodge anything) before then, but for the past l5 years in a row, no annual visit to Denmark was spent without at least a few days as Karl Emil's guest. No matter how bad he might be feeling, and in later years his energy, while still greater than that of most people half his age, was running down, he would insist on driving me to the airport. We were almost exactly the same age, and for next year, which may be the final Jazzpar, I had planned to take him to one of the best restaurants in Copenhagen to pre-celebrate our upcoming 75th, in spite of what I knew would have been his protestations. Now I will have to drink a solitary skaal to one of the kindest and most decent men I've had the good fortune to know. Dear Doctor in Jazz Archaeology, we will cherish the treasures you've left us and think of you when we do.
Farewell Good Friend
I first met Karl-Emil some thirty-five years ago in a jazz record shop in Manhattan. We became very good friends and over the years he was a house guest at my homes on LongIsland, Florida, and most recently in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. I would help him plan his visits to the States, picking him up at airports and driving with him to IAJRC conventions and Ellington conferences. One of the highlights of our visit to Europe in 1997 was a trip to Denmark. Karl picked up my wife Barbara and myself at the Copenhagen railroad station and took us to his home. We spent the next three days enjoying the beauty of Denmark, visiting the Storyville studios, looking at Karl’s fantastic collection of records, books and films, and spending a few late nights in his apartment watching TV and videos.
On one of his Florida visits he arrived Thanksgiving Day on crutches. We got him home for a fine turkey dinner.
I remember that at the New Jersey record bash, Karl stayed in his hotel room to watch the games of the World Soccer Cup. We drove him to Pittsburgh from North Adams to attend an Ellington conference. Another time at an IAJRC convention in New Orleans I went with him to visit his good friend Bill Russell who was close to death. On the way back to our hotel Karl could not hold back the tears. Among the happiest moments with him were the ones we spent in my basement in Plainview and the hours on my Florida porch room just conversing and listening to good music.
Saying goodbye is very hard. It is, even now, hard for me to realize that he is gone. I hope that somewhere in the eternity of this universe he is now relaxed and enjoying good music. God rest your soul good friend.
Karl Emil was born in the town of Dianalund Zealand in Denmark on 16Jun29. His first record release was in the 1950’s on the Memory label by Chris Barber and the Ramblers. His many wonderful labels include
Collector’s Classics, Jazz Unlimited, Jubilee, Nostalgia Arts and Storyville. His video and publishing wing, Jazzmedia has released approximately 50 books and 90 videos.
The DVD section has now been sold to Salut Audio & Video and they will be releasing the DVDs.
Ron Collier and Sammy Davis
03/3 DEMS 3/1
The November Newsletter of the
Toronto Chapter of the Duke Ellington Society reported the death of
Ron Collier. He died from liver cancer in Toronto General Hospital
on 23oct03. He was 73 years old.
Those who have met Ron and enjoyed his presentations at Ellington Conferences will be saddened by this news.
Ron was a very important collaborator of Ellington during the last years of Duke's life. He was a paying member of DEMS and he was very helpful if I needed his knowledge to answer specific questions. I will cherish his friendly letters and I will miss him.
On 18Sep03 I lost another dear friend from Toronto: Sammy Davis. He was a regular visitor of Ellington Conferences and an inspiration for his friends. He was a very dedicated member of the Toronto Chapter and it is good to know that a scholarship to Humber College will be presented in Sammy's memory. The same Humber College where Ron Collier taught for 22 years.
03/3 DEMS 3/2
Aaron died on Monday, the
3rd of November in a hospital in Villiers Le Bel, near
Paris. He was born 10Jan18, so he was 85 years old.
Aaron was an intimate friend of Billy Strayhorn. He took lessons from Teddy Wilson, and was very fond of his friend Art Tatum. Nobody could play the Strayhorn compositions like him even if he was not what we call a swinging pianist.
When he went to New York at the end of the thirties he was living in the building where Benny Carter and some of the Basie musicians were living. He told me that the 'boy next door' was Herschel Evans and he became good friend with him.
Aaron lived in Paris since 1948, and played in a lot of clubs and hotels as cocktail pianist. He was shyand didn't like to play concerts. His hands were tall, he could easily play 12ths. In the seventies there were a lot of piano players who came to hear him after hours. He played for us the Ellington and Strayhorn tunes with beautiful changes.
Always very friendly and generous with young musicians, he had no ego and was really modest. His human qualities were exceptional.
He wrote his 'memoires' in French and he named it "Piano in the Background : mémoires d'un pianiste de bar", but no publisher wanted it, even with the foreword he had from Duke Ellington, written in 1973, and ending with these words: "Qu'est-ce que je pense d'Aaron Bridgers? Ah! on ne trouverait nul part dans le monde quelqu'un qui sache apprécier mieux que moi les qualités d'Aaron! son talent a beaucoup de facettes et il sait créer un son de piano merveilleux! il est impeccable."
Aaron gave me a copy of his 'memoires' that I keep preciously on the shelf where all my books about Ellington are. I put it just in between "Music Is Dy Eistress" and the Hajdu biography of Billy Strayhorn ; a perfect place between these 'Beautiful People'.
Philippe Baudoin from Paris
From Aaron's death notice: "Aaron expressed the fact that he
wanted neither flowers nor tears."
Aaron played in the picture "Paris Blues" (1960/61) and he
participated in the piano-session for Billy Strayhorn on 10Mar67,
(see DEMS 03/1-10/3 and the presentation by Alexandre Rado in Blue
03/3 DEMS 4/1
This is the last of a series of 101
printed DEMS Bulletins. But this is not the end of DEMS!
Starting next year the Bulletins will be published exclusively on the web-site of Peter MacHare:
If you go there now you will find the Bulletins 01/3, 02/1, 02/2, 02/3, 03/1, 03/2 and probably this Bulletin: 03/3. If you go there after 1Apr04 you will find 04/1.
Many DEMS members have expressed their displeasure about the end of DEMS, but that is not what is going to happen. The most important difference will be that you will have to go to Peter MacHare's web-site in order to download the Bulletin into your computer. If you are not able to do this and you want to have a copy of the next Bulletin, please let me know. I will make sure that you receive a copy printed on paper. Another difference is the fact that from now on membership will be free, which was the big dream of Benny Aasland, who was very reluctant to accept money for what he did. This free membership has one disadvantage: it will be impossible to continue releasing Azure cassettes without violating the arrangements DEMS made with the copyright holders of Duke's recorded music. The last cassette (CA-31, see p11) can be ordered by the 2003 membership. All the previously released Azure cassettes also remain available to 2003 members. The price per cassette will be
€ 10.- or $ 10.- to be sent by mail to DEMS in Belgium. These prices include mailing expenses. If as an old member you want to have a list of all the 31 DEMS cassettes, please let me know. I can email it to you or send you a print.
Sending out Correction-sheets for the New DESOR discography will continue. All expenses should be sent directly to DEMS in Belgium by normal mail. Money will no longer be collected by the group of DEMS members who have done so for many years, for which we are most grateful. The number of transactions and the size of the sums involved make it possible to switch to this, the easiest system of all.
There is a further great additional advantage of the new situation. It seems to me that only a few DEMS members are interested in every subject in the DEMS Bulletin. In future you can download only what you want. You can print it and save it or you can keep it in your computer, which makes it easy with most word-processors to search for a particular subject. With this in mind, Peter has already split the Bulletins into subject specific chapters.
In the past I have included many articles from Duke-LYM in the Bulletin. I figured that these articles would be of interest to members who do not have access to Internet. But since so many members now do have access, you will not see so many Duke-LYM messages in the Bulletin from now on. If someone has adopted a DEMS member for sending him a copy of the Bulletins, he could also keep his friend updated in as far as there are interesting messages on the Duke-LYM list. Especially if one knows what one's client is looking for.
If you are not a member of the Duke-LYM list but would like to become one, you should send a message to <Majordomo@concordia.ca>. To receive list mail at the address from which you're sending your mail, simply say "subscribe" followed by the list's name: "duke-lym". If you have problems, I will be happy to help you.
Since Peter began publishing the Bulletins on his web-site, there have been several requests for DEMS membership. I have not put the names of these new members on the mailing list for sending them the printed Bulletins. The interest shown by these new members gives me the feeling that we have made a wise decision because the publication of the Bulletins on Peter's web-site will enlarge the circle of Ellington collectors who want to share their questions and answers with other Ellington aficionados. The future of DEMS looks just fine, and very secure.
03/3 DEMS 4/2
The producer of Masters of Jazz, Next Music, still exists. The original company, Media 7, was sold a few years ago. They changed the name, and several times of manager, but they continue their activity… except for the Masters of Jazz series in which they are less and less interested. So, it has considerably slowed down since 2000 and, at the moment, we don't know if they will ever issue more CDs.
None is planned, though.
Sorry for the bad news, it is a big disappointment for the MOJ team too…
Thanks for your message and all the best to you too.
This is indeed bad news. I belong to a group of collectors who
have concentrated on the Masters of Jazz CDs, because of the high
quality of the documentation and the inclusion of all the alternate
takes. It is good that Neatwork is releasing many of the alternate
takes that are missing on the Classics series, but still we will miss
the Masters of Jazz CDs!
I too am saddened by this news, as I too preferred to collect my
early Ellington together on CD using this series. It does seem to me
that this series was the most recent of several attempts to produce
an integral compilation of Ellington's recordings. If in a few years'
time some brave soul decides to try to do this yet again, I do hope
that a decision will be taken to skip the 1920s, which are now very
well covered, and to concentrate on pulling the 1930s material
together in an organised, well-transferred, and fully documented way
(ie more satisfactorily than the Classics + Neatwork series do, taken
together — not that I'm knocking them). Re-issue of the 1930s
material has been, with the honourable exception
of Henri Renaud's series of double LPs on CBS(France), so patchy over
the years, and it shouldn't be all that big a task to pull it all
together, certainly down to 1937.
03/3 DEMS 4/3
Just when I was waiting in line to deliver the 03/2
Bulletins at the Post Office, I suddenly realised that I had
forgotten to put the little identification-numbers at the top of each
article. I tried hard to have for once a Bulletin without any errors,
You know how it works. Maybe you would like to put the numbers next to the headings of the articles yourself.
It is useful to know that there are two numbers on page 7;
4 numbers on page 13; 3 on page 18; 4 on page 21 and 4 on page 22. The other pages shouldn't give you any problem.
Another silly error was made on 03/2-20/2.
The contribution about Tiger Rag did not come from Claude Bolling, but from Claude Carrière.
My apologies to both Claude's!
In the web-edition of the 03/2 Bulletin, the error is corrected.
03/3 DEMS 4/4
The printed DEMS Bulletin showed on this place a short message about the next Ellington Conference in Stockholm. In the meantime details of the programme were published in the Bulletin of the Duke Ellington Society of Sweden (Number 4, December 2003). We decided to give you the most important information in this web-edition of DEMS Bulletin. If you are interested, you should contact Göran Wallén and ask him for a registration form at his address: Skogstropsvägen 39, SE-191 39 Sollentuna, Sweden or by email: email@example.com. For further information look at the homepage: ellingtonsweden.com. The registration form contains all information about costs, hotels, addresses etc.
Except where noted, the proceedings will take place at NALEN, Regeringsgatan 74.
Wednesday May 12 at Sergel Plaza Hotel, Brunkebergs Torg 9.
18:00 Registration; 19:00 Get-together Party
Thursday May 13
9:15 Opening, Göran Wallén and Charles Stewart
9:30 Jan Bruér: Ellington in Swedish
10:00 Frank Büchmann Møller: Unpublished recordings from Ben Webster with a.o. Jimmie Blanton and Ray Nance
11:15 Lars Westin: Rolf Ericson - The Swedish Ellingtonian
13:30 Speaker not yet confirmed
15:00 Annie Kuebler: Harlem Love Song; the relationship between Duke Ellington and James P. Johnson
16:00 Scott Schwartz: Ellington's IRS Blues
Evening programme to be decided later.
Friday May 14
9:30 Brian Priestley: "That's what he says" - Charles Mingus as a member of the Ellington School
11:00 John Edward Hasse: Ellington, Strayhorn and the standard repertory of Jazz
13:30 Andrew Homzy: Form, structure and place in Duke Ellington's Togo Brava
15:00 Claire Gordon: Ellington behind the scenes
15:45 Patricia Willard: Louie Bellson, Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington - their reciprocal impact
16:45 Panel discussion, Alice Babs and Nils Lindberg - Working with the Duke
19:30 Alice Babs Celebration, Evening concert
Saturday May 15
9:30 Janna T. Steed: Taking the Duke to Church; performing Ellington's music in worship
11:00 George Avakian: The LP that was never made - Louis Armstrong, guest artist with the Duke Ellington Orchestra
13:30 Steven Lasker: New discoveries - an assortment of unreleased Ellington recordings from the 1930s and 40s plus selected factual surprises
15:00 Bjarne Busk: The eternal Ellington Stockpile
16:00 Panel discussion, George Avakian and Patricia Willard; chair: Lars Westin
19:00 Banquet dinner in Nalen's "Stora Salen"
Sunday May 16
14:00 Depending on demand, an extra concert may take place featuring Alice Babs; Nils Lindbergs Third Saxes Galore and probably Arne Domnérus and Kjell Öhman
A [Blue] Rose by any other Name …
03/3 DEMS 5
1. Sjef Hoefsmit, having observed that the New DESOR team shows V.I.P. Boogie—contrary to all his records of the title which show V.I.P.'s Boogie—accordingly inquired where they found their spelling, to which Luciano Massagli replied (DEMS 03/2, 28/p1261) "we use always the title copyrighted as it appears inMIMM and the additions published in Mercer's book."
2. It is thus evident that Messrs. Massagli and Volonté believe that the list of Ellington's compositions found in MIMM (pages 493-522), supplemented by the additions in Mercer's book (pages 222-223), provide an accurate record of copyright data; such is often not the case, despite the seemingly authoritative claim on page 493 ofMIMM that "Duke Ellington's titles are listed here in their order of copyright."
3. I, too, once believed this last statement accurate. I learned otherwise a few years ago, soon after finding a 19-page document at the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers titled "Record of the Works of Ellington, Edward Kennedy (Duke)." It was apparently typed up in 1965 and updated periodically thereafter by staff at ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, the performance rights society to which Ellington was elected a member in 1935.
4. A side-by-side comparison of ASCAP's list with the one split
betweenMIMM and Mercer's book quickly
establishes that ASCAP's is the parent document. The same sequence of
title of composition; year; composer(s); author(s) is shown in every
case. (The second column of ASCAP's list is headed with the
word 'year'; not year of creation, publication, or copyright, just
MIMM's list ends in mid-1973, when the book was published; ASCAP's extends to 1976.
The following compositions, all shown as by Duke Ellington alone and dated to 1973, are found in ASCAP's list but not inMIMM:
Amour, Amour (Part II) a.k.a. Too Kee;
Onco; U.F.F.X. #1; Loco; Song; Arpz; One More Time;
Occi; Tang; Tina; Madi; Wood; Blem; Klop; Bind;
Tego a.k.a. Naturellement Part I;
Mris a.k.a. Soul Soothing Beach;
Soul Flet a.k.a. Soul Flute (Flute Ame).
Compositions registered with ASCAP in 1976:
Brown Penny (composer: DE/author: John La Touche);
I Could Get a Man (DE/T.Hee & Phil Cottrell);
New World a'Comin' (DE; arr: Luther Henderson);
I Like the Sunrise (DE/DE);
The Greatest There Is (DE/DE);
Sultry Serenade (DE/Tyree Glenn);
Fragmented Suite for Piano and Bass (DE & Ray Brown).
5. Not everything was copied: In the course of transferring ASCAP's list toMIMM, the contents of page eight of ASCAP's list was mistakenly omitted. This data ultimately appeared in Mercer's book. The far right-hand column of ASCAP's list, which identifies the publishing companies that controlled the songs in 1965 (and thereafter), was omitted. Other changes were made: While titles through mid-1965 are typed entirely in capital letters in ASCAP's list, the listing inMIMM and Mercer's book uses a combination of upper and lower case letters. Where ASCAP's list shows "Whetsel" (likewise the copyright registration and sheet music for Misty Mornin'), MIMM (p494) shows "Whetsol."
6. Due to an apparent typographical error, seven titles dated as
from 1940 in ASCAP's list appear inMIMM
(p500) dated to 1939.
ASCAP's list shows The Myster Song; this is corrected to The Mystery Song inMIMM.
Rockin' in Rhythm appears incorrectly as Rockin' Rhythm both in ASCAP's list and inMIMM; this is corrected in the New DESOR.
Jitterbug's Holiday, which appears both in ASCAP's list and inMIMM dated to 1938, is a title otherwise unknown to me. As Jitterbug's Lullaby (recorded in 1938 and credited to the same trio of writers, Ellington, Mills and Hodges) appears neither in ASCAP's list nor inMIMM, one may infer that Jitterbug's Holiday is likely a corruption of Jitterbug's Lullaby. Neither title was copyrighted in 1938.
7. The U.S. Government Printing Office published official "Catalog[s] of Copyright Entries," at first monthly, and then semi-annually, during Ellington's lifetime; a near-complete set of these, held at the downtown Los Angeles Public Library, furnishes sufficient copyright data to allow a preliminary comparison against what is found on original issue record labels, sheet music, ASCAP's list, MIMM and the New DESOR.
8. A definitive comparison must await research at the Library of
Congress in Washington D.C., where the primary source copyright
application cards are on file (on the fourth floor of the Madison
Building). An application card is one of three components of a
musical work's copyright submission, the others being the "deposit"
(for an unpublished work, a music manuscript; for a published work,
two copies of the published music was usual) and the statutory fee
for registration and certificate (which, in the 1920s, was a
The titles shown in the official catalogs aren't quoted exactly as found on the application cards, but were subjected to an editorial process whereby only the first letter in each title appeared as a capital, all others being lowercased; parentheses were invariably omitted, a comma sometimes inserted just before the spot where the first ("open") parenthesis had been; moreover, typographical errors were occasionally introduced.
A definitive study would therefore cite titles as given on the actual application cards, and also include Ellington's post-1942 compositions, which are all but ignored in this exploratory study.
9. A procedural note: Titles quoted herein are capitalized
according to guidelines for capitalizing titles of works (songs,
books, magazines, poems, parts, chapters, articles, etc.) published
in "The Chicago Manual of Style" (13th edition, 1982,
"Capitalize the first and last words, and all nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, and subordinate conjunctions.
Lowercase articles (the, a, an), coordinate conjunctions (and, or, for, nor) and prepositions, regardless of length, unless they are the first or last words of the title or subtitle.
Lowercase the to in infinitives...
No word in a quoted title should ever be set in full capitals, regardless of how it appears on the title page of the book itself...
How to capitalize hyphenated compounds in titles is often a question. A rule of thumb that usually proves satisfactory is
(1) always capitalize the first element and
(2) capitalize the second element if it is a noun or proper adjective or if it has equal force with the first element: Twentieth-Century Literature; Non-Christian; RiskTaker; City-State.
Do not capitalize the second element if
(a) it is a participle modifying the first element or
(b) both elements constitute a single word: English-speaking People; Medium-sized Library; E-flat Minor; Re-establish; Self-sustaining Reaction..."
10. As mentioned, comparing titles as found on published copyright entries, original release record labels, sheet music, ASCAP's list, MIMM and the New DESOR reveals many variations. As to the obvious question of which is correct, the title by which a song is copyrighted can be considered legally correct, but those who catalog Ellington's music by title aren't constrained by the letter of the law so are free to consider evidence other than copyright data.
11. Seemingly authoritative sources frequently disagree.
The list compiled by ASCAP and published inMIMM and Mercer's book (collectively referred to below as A/E) provides a peculiarly distorted version of the actual copyright data.
12. A/E always lists Ellington's name before that of any of his co-composer(s); that sequence sometimes differs in the copyright entries.
13. The sequence of titles A/E shows within any given year doesn't correspond to the actual chronology of copyright entries.
14. Many titles in A/E's list
weren't copyrighted in the years shown—if ever. Titles I was
unable to trace in the respective "Catalog[s] of Copyright Entries"
for the various years quoted by A/E (or in
any other years) include:
Bouncing Buoyancy; Big House Blues; Slippery Horn; Jungle Nights in Harlem; Krum Elbow Blues; Braggin' in Brass; Grateful to You; Lady in Doubt; Lady Macbeth; Tootin' Through the Roof; Weely; The Blues; Love in My Heart; Junior Hop; Charlie the Chulo; My Sunday Gal; Honchi Conch; Slow Tune; Doghouse Blues; Just a-Sittin' and a-Rockin'; I'm Satisfied; Swing Low; Lightnin'; Swee' Pea; Luna de Cuba; Bessie—Whoa Babe; Flame Indigo; Give Me an Old-Fashioned Waltz; Sh, He's on the Beat; Sharp Easter; The Giddybug Gallop; "Fat Stuff" Serenade; The Back Room Romp (A Contrapuntal Stomp);San Juan Hill; I'll Come Back for More; Good Gal Blues; Bundle of Blues; Crescendo in Blue; Diminuendo in Blue; Little Posey; Tea and Trumpets; Blue Ramble; Cotton Club Stomp; Shout 'em Aunt Tillie; Creole Rhapsody; Indigo Echoes; Tough Truckin'; I Don't Know Why I Love You So; T.T. on Toast; Lazy Rhapsody; Blue Mood; Down Home Stomp; Fast and Furious; Jolly Wog; Lot o'Fingers; A Night in Harlem; Oklahoma Stomp; Slow Motion; Sponge Cake and Spinach; Swanee Lullaby; Sweet Dreams of Love; Who Is She; Who Said "It's Tight Like That"; Rude Interlude; It's Glory; Finesse.
15. A/E's list sometimes cites
years of origin at variance with the actual years of creation,
publication or initial copyright entry. Some examples:
Soda Fountain Rag was created circa 1914; A/E dates it to 1958, yet it wasn't copyrighted until 12Feb73.
Baby When You Ain't There was first recorded and released in 1932; A/E dates it to 1941, yet it wasn't copyrighted until 18Feb66.
The Flaming Sword was first recorded and released in 1940, the year shown in A/E, but not copyrighted until 4Dec62.
Satin Doll was created, first recorded and released in 1953, the year shown in A/E, but wasn't entered for copyright until 4Nov58.
Your Love Has Faded, an original by Strayhorn that his Pittsburgh jazz trio "The Mad Hatters" played in 1937 (cf. Hajdu, "Lush Life," p37), is dated to 1939 in A/E (year of its first two recordings 1939) was first released 30Aug40 (on Columbia 35640, which credits Ellington alone) and again on 20Dec40 (on OKeh 5940, which also credits Ellington alone), yet the earliest copyright entry I found for the song is dated 2Jun60 (words and music credited to Duke Ellington alone). (Sheet music for the song appears in the 1999 folio "Duke Ellington: The 100th Anniversary Collection"; Ellington and Strayhorn are credited as co-composers; the copyright line shows a 1932 copyright renewed in 1960 and the publisher as EMI Robbins Catalog, Inc.; A/E and the New DESOR credit both Ellington and Strayhorn as composers; the New DESOR contends [p917] that "the theme is partially based on Rent Party Blues," which I don't hear.)
Rainy Nights was recorded and released in 1924; the label of Blu-Disc T1002 shows the composers as "Trent-Donaldson-Lopez"; all other master-pressed issues I've examined show the composers as "Trent-Donaldson"; the piece was first copyrighted on 8Dec72 ("music Duke Ellington, copyright Tempo Music, Inc."); A/E gives the year as 1973, and names Ellington as composer and author, the claim odd given the earlier credits to others, and the close melodic similarity between Rainy Nights and Naughty Man (credited to Dixon and Redman), which was recorded by Fletcher Henderson for three different companies during the month of Nov24, the same month "The Washingtonians" recorded Rainy Nights; attributing Ellington as Rainy Nights' author (or lyricist) is odd in that no author to the song was noted in the 1972 catalog of copyright entries, while the record is instrumental; no other recorded versions of the title are known to me. (Reports that Broadway 11437 bears the alternate title "Rainy Days" are evidently in error—the label of this issue, reproduced on the back cover of Valburn's Directory, shows the title as Rainy Nights, as does the label of every other 78 r.p.m. issue I've ever seen of this title.)
16. At least one original copyright isn't shown by ASCAP or MIMM: Rhapsody Jr. was first copyrighted 21oct26, not in 1935, the year of its sheet music publication (and second copyright, on 30Jul35).
17. On occasion, songs were copyrighted twice under slightly
We are familiar with the title Five O'Clock Drag from record labels, sheet music andMIMM, and the stock arrangement (by Will Hudson) was copyrighted under that title on 22Jun42—but the original 23Apr42 "unpublished work" copyright entry shows 5 O'Clock Drag.
As for Do Nothin', the work appears as Do Nothin' 'til You Hear from Me on the original 14Apr43 "unpublished work" copyright entry rather than the more familiar Do Nothin' till You Hear From Me, which is seen on the song's 18Jun43 "published work" copyright entry, the sheet music, record labels, etc.
18. Some melodies were copyrighted and published as sheet music
under entirely variant titles, composer's credits unchanged; a
partial list includes:
Zonky Blues (date of copyright 18Feb30) was retitled as Jazz Lips (20May30 copyright entry; Victor V-38129 released 20Jun30);
Sauce for the Goose (16Jul37 copyright entry) and
Ev'ah Day (21Jul37 copyright entry) were respectively retitled Jazz a la Carte and Demi-Tasse upon their 1oct37 release on either side of Variety VA 655; a separate sheet music edition was published for each title. Copyright entries under these latter titles are dated 5Nov37.
On Becoming a Square (a.k.a. Altitude) was first published in 1943 in the folio "Duke Ellington Piano Method for Blues"; the same melody, retitled Main Stem, was released 28Jan44 on Victor 20-1556 and entered for copyright on 3Aug44 in an arrangement, with orchestra parts, by Will Hudson.
19. Titles as shown on record labels aren't necessarily
definitive. Some familiar examples:
Vocalion 1086, released l6Jun27, shows New Orleans Low-Down, whereas the 23Jun27 copyright entry shows New Orleans Low Down (as does the sheet music, A/E and the New DESOR).
Victor V-38053, released 21Jun29, shows The Dicty Glide, whereas the 16May29 copyright entry shows Dicty Glide (also the sheet music, A/E and the New DESOR).
OKeh 8760, released 10Feb30, shows Lazy Duke, whereas the 18Feb30 copyright entry shows The Lazy Duke (also the sheet music, A/E and the New DESOR).
Victor V-38115, released 21Mar30, shows Breakfast Dance, whereas the 21Apr30 copyright entry shows The Breakfast Dance (also the sheet music, A/E and the New DESOR).
Brunswick 6527, released 14Mar33, shows Drop Me off at Harlem, whereas the 5Dec33 copyright entry shows Drop Me off in Harlem (also the sheet music, A/E and the New DESOR).
Victor 24431, released 1Nov33, shows Dallas Doings, whereas the 16Jan34 copyright entry shows Dallas Doin's (also the sheet music, A/E and the New DESOR).
Brunswick m8029, released 18Dec37, shows Dusk in the Desert, whereas the 16May38 copyright entry shows Dusk on the Desert (also A/E and the New DESOR).
Brunswick m8186, released 28Jul38, shows A Gypsy without a Song, whereas the 28oct38 copyright entry shows Gypsy without a Song (also the sheet music, A/E and the New DESOR).
Vocalion v4386, released 295ep38, shows The Jeep Is Jumpin', whereas the 12Dec38 copyright entry shows Jeep Is Jumpin' (also A/E and the New DESOR).
Vocalion v4574, released 12Jan39, shows The Boys from Harlem, whereas the 15Jul39 copyright entry shows Boys from Harlem (also A/E and the New DESOR).
Brunswick m8365, released 4May39, shows (I Want) Something to Live For, whereas the 3Nov39 copyright entry shows Something to Live For (also A/E and the New DESOR).
Victor 26788, released 20Sep40, shows In a Mellotone; the 20Jul40 copyright entry shows In a Mellow Tone (also the sheet music, A/E and the New DESOR).
Early pressings of Victor 27587, released 12Sep41, show Just a-Settin' and a-Rockin'; the title was ordered changed to Just a-Sittin' and a-Rockin' on labels printed after "2/19" (19Feb42?); no copyright for this song was registered in the 1940s; I have not seen sheet music for it; A/E and the New DESOR all show a-Sittin', and this is what Ray Nance sings.
20. Note that reissues tend to restate the title exactly as it appeared on its initial release—despite indications to the contrary such as those cited in the last paragaraph.
21. (Old news in passing: Some songs were released on records under variant titles. Examples include East St. Louis Toodle-o/Harlem Twist; Harlem River Quiver/Brown Berries; Mood Indigo/Dreamy Blues; Swanee Rhapsody/Lazy Rhapsody; Lot o'Fingers/Fast and Furious; Uptown Downbeat/B1ackout; Solace/Lament for a Lost Love; Have a Heart/Lost in Meditation; Barney Goin' Easy/I'm Checkin' out—Go'om-Bye; Do Nothin' till You Hear from Me/New Concerto for Cootie; Never No Lament/Don't Get Around Much Anymore; Subtle Slough/Just Squeeze Me; Charlotte Russe [implausibly credited to "Ellington-Hodges" on Mercer LP 1000]/Lotus Blossom; etc.)
22. Some songs appeared in more than two variants. Examples:
It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got that Swing) (Brunswick 6265, first page of sheet music);
It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got the Swing) (cover of an early Gotham Music Service sheet music edition, reproduced on the back dust jacket of the first U.S. edition of John Hasse's "Beyond Category"; this is an obvious mistake);
It Don't Mean a Thing if It Ain't Got that Swing (28oct32 copyright entry, A/E).
Oh, Babe! Maybe Someday (Brunswick 7667, released 23May36);
Oh Babe—Maybe—Someday (sheet music);
Oh Babe, Maybe Someday (20Jul36 copyright entry, A/E, the New DESOR).
You Gave Me the Gate (And I'm Swingin') (Brunswick m8169, released 7Jul38, also the sheet music);
You Gave Me the Gate, and I'm Swingin' (12Dec38 copyright entry);
You Gave Me the Gate and I'm Swinging (A/E).
Swing Baby Swing (Variety VA 618, released 15oct37, also early pressings of Vocalion v3844, released 25Oct37);
Love in My Heart (later pressings of Vocalion v3844, the change ordered on labels printed after 1Jan38);
Love's in My Heart (A/E);
Swing, Baby, Swing (the New DESOR). (I didn't find a copyright entry for the song under any variant of the title in the entries for 1937, 1940, or any other year.)
The Gal from Joe's (Brunswick m8108, released 8Apr38, also the sheet music; the song's lyrics include the line "They're cryin' 'cause they all loved the gal from Joe's.");
Gal from Joe's (20Apr39 copyright entry, A/E, the New DESOR);
That Gal from Joe's (song as announced on broadcasts of 1May38 and 9Jan40).
If You Were in My Place (What Would You Do) (Brunswick m8073, released 19Mar38);
If You Were in My Place What Would You Do (Vocalion v4086, released 22Apr38);
If You Were in My Place (What Would You Do?) (sheet music);
If You Were in My Place What Would You Do (30Mar38 copyright entry, ASCAP);
If You Were in My Place What Would You Do? (MIMM);
If You Were in My Place (Cotton Club program reprinted on p697 of Stratemann).
I'm Checkin' out—Go'om-Bye (Columbia 35208, released 8Sep39);
I'm Checking out Goom Bye (4Dec39 copyright entry);
I'm Checkin' out Goom-Bye (V-Disc 723, issued 1946);
I'm Checking out Goom-Bye (A/E and the New DESOR).
("Checkin'" would seem to be correct, as that is what Ivie Anderson sings; Rosemary Clooney also sings "Checkin'" on Columbia CL 872, released 16Apr56, which shows "Checkin'" on the album-jacket, "Checking" on the label, and "Goombye" on both. "Go'om-Bye" and variants thereof are vernacular corruptions of goodbye; as to the question of which mispelling of goodbye is "correct," this researcher can only close his eyes and throw the proverbial dart.)
The Brown-Skin Gal (In the Calico Gown) (Victor 27517, released 9Jul41);
Brown-Skinned Gal in the Calico Gown (printed program of "Jump for Joy," which opened 10Jul41, reprinted on p178 of MIMM; "skinned" is however an obvious error as the lyrics show "skin");
Brownskin Gal in the Calico Gown (11Jul41 copyright entry for unpublished work);
Brown-Skin Gal in the Calico Gown (30Jul41 copyright entry for published work, A/E);
The Brown-Skin Gal in the Calico Gown (sheet music, which bears the copyright year 1941);
The Brown Skin Gal in the Calico Gown (title as quoted in the sheet music folio "Duke Ellington: The 100th Anniversary Collection"; copyright line shows copyright 1941, renewed 1969).
23. With conflicting data from supposedly authoritative sources, how can any single variant be pronounced as definitively correct? While it's too late to ask the composer himself, opportunities arise where one may apply common sense reasoning to identify some variants as improbable, and in some cases even divine Ellington's likely intent.
24. Here is a partial list of title variants shown in A/E which aren't found on any original issue 78
r.p.m., sheet music or copyright entry I've seen and are thus in my
The Blues I Love to Sing (rather than Blues I Love to Sing); Shout 'em, Aunt Tillie (the comma being extraneous); Baby, When You Ain't There (same remark as last); Merry Go Round (rather than Merry-Go-Round); Lament for Lost Love (rather than Lament for a Lost Love); The Buffet Flat (rather than Buffet Flat); Fatstuff (rather than "Fat Stuff") Serenade; Four and a Half Street (rather than Four and One-Half Street); Ridin' on a Blue Note (rather than "Riding) on a Blue Note"; So, I'll Come Back for More (extraneous: So,); The Giddy-Bug Galop (rather than The Giddybug Gallop, as found on Victor 27502; I have yet to find "galop" in any English-language dictionary);Who Said It's Tight Like This? (Cameo, Lincoln and Romeo issues show Who Said "It's Tight Like That", presumably titled with reference to Tampa Red and Georgia Tom's late-1928 Vocalion megahit, It's Tight Like That.)
25. Surprisingly, the copyright entries show Lesson in C and Portrait of Bert Williams rather than A Lesson in C or A Portrait of Bert Williams as found everywhere else; both the copyright entries and sheet music show The Creole Love Call and Gal-a-vantin' — not Creole Love Call or Gal-avantin' as found everywhere else.
26. Victor 26796, released 8Nov40, shows The Flaming Sword. The 4Dec62 copyright entry, which notes the work as unpublished (sheet music is unknown to me), gives the title as Flaming Sword, which is also shown by A/E and the New DESOR. Note the 22-year lag between the song's release and title change, by which time the title The Flaming Sword was long established.
27. Brunswick m8365, released 4May39, shows Portrait of the Lion. The 3Aug40 copyright entry and sheet music, along with A/E and the New DESOR all show Portrait of a Lion, but Brooks Kerr reports that the Brunswick record and sheet music represent entirely different melodies.
28. As for titles such as [The] Brown[-]Skin Gal, where the composer's intent cannot be divined with a reasonable degree of confidence, I can't offer much in the way of advice in the matter of which variant is "correct," only that the list of Ellington's compositions found inMIMM and Mercer's book doesn't represent The Gospel according to St. Duke as revealed through ASCAP and Stanley Dance, so other sources ought also to be considered. Authors of future reference works are in any case free to include the occasional explanatory footnote.
29. This study isn't exhaustive for pre-1943 works (readers are spared a discussion of the permutations of Toodle-o, Breakdown, Mama, Skrontch, etc.); it ignores Ellington's post-1942 works almost entirely; copyright renewals aren't noted; not every edition of every title published as sheet music has been examined (many other titles remain unpublished as sheet music); copyright data is taken from the "Catalog[s] of Copyright Entries," a secondary source. Hopefully, this study will inspire some future researcher to conduct a more comprehensive one using primary source material found only in Washington D.C.
30. As to Sjef's specific point, which prompted Luciano's remark followed by this lengthy response: Columbia 39670 (78) and Columbia 4-39670 (45), 'both released 29Feb52, as V.I.P.'s Boogie (also the 29Jun52 copyright entry and ASCAP's list); I've only seen V.I.P. Boogie in Mercer's book and in the New DESOR.
31. Contrary to Luciano's statement that the DESOR team "use
always the title copyrighted as it appears in MIMM
and the additions published in Mercer's book," one finds
The Mooche in the New DESOR, which is consistent with what is
shown on the labels of the 78 r.p.m. singles recorded in 1928 for
OKeh, Brunswick, Pathé/Perfect and Victor, also on "Ellington
Uptown." The Mooch (without an "e") is found on the 31Dec28
copyright entry, the sheet music (which cites a 1928 copyright date),
the 78s on Diva and Velvetone (released 5Jun30) and A/E (the latter pair cite a 1929 date, although the
OKeh version was released 5Nov28 and the Pathé/Perfect version
the following month).
Variety VA 626 and A/E all show Sponge Cake and Spinach. I haven't found a copyright entry or sheet music for this title, which appears in the New DESOR as Sponge, Cake and Spinach. (This last is most certainly an error, as "sponge cake" is a dessert, not a tool for cleaning.)
One finds Pitter Panther Patter on every recorded version I can recall, also in the New DESOR, but the title is shown as Pitter, Panther, Patter in A/E. (Contrary to A/E, the piece wasn't copyrighted in 1940; I was unable to find any copyright entry during my searches through the catalogs of copyright entries published during Ellington's lifetime.)
Vocalion v4622 (released 9Feb39) and the New DESOR show Dancing on the Stars, whereas the 30Jun39 copyright entry, sheet music and A/E all show I'm Riding on the Moon and Dancing on the Stars.
32. Some additional titles encountered in the catalogs of
copyright entries, these by composers other than Ellington:
I'm Gonna Hang Around My Sugar till I Gather all the Sugar that She's Got; If You Can't Hold the Man You Love, Don 't Cry; 1'm Just Wild about Animal Crackers; (The) Lucky Number Blues; Song from a Cotton Field (words and music by Porter Grainger); No, Papa, No; Hottentot Tot; Swanee Shuffle (not Shuffles).
Elsewhere I've encountered Chlöe (Song of the Swamp) and Yellow Dog Blues (He 's Gone where the Southern Cross the Yellow Dog).
33. Suggestion: Should the authors of the New DESOR ever
publish a new edition, they might do well to consider indexing titles
that begin with an article (the, a or an) starting from
the title's second word. The Creeper would thus be indexed
under the letter 'C'; A Sailboat in the Moonlight under 'S';
etc. Not only would this follow long-established convention, but it
would prove useful for those who might not think to look in the index
under the letter 'T' for The Breakfast Dance; or, conversely,
under 'B' for Blues I Love to Sing, etc.
Steven Lasker, 22oct03
03/3 DEMS 8/1
Steven Lasker found "a 16-inch acetate recorded by
Ellington for Capitol Transcriptions on 16Jul46 that contains two
breakdowns plus a complete unissued take of 9:20 Special in an
arrangement found nowhere else. The first alto soloist isn't readily
recognizable; Brooks Kerr suggests it might be Jimmy Hamilton, who
occasionally played alto — in addition to clarinet and tenor
— on jobs with Brooks."
He found on top of the label "CAP"; on the left side of the label "7/16/46" (the date); on the right side of the label "BL" and on the bottom "NG" and "Ellington ET 1639"
Steven continued: "I don't know what "BL" signifies. "NG" is obviously "no good," perhaps due to length, the complete take being 4:54."
We fully agree with Steven that Jimmy Hamilton is the first reed-player, but we believe that he used his tenor. You can make up your own mind when Steven will play this for us in Stockholm.
03/3 DEMS 8/2
Jerry Haendiges Productions has released a complete
recording of the Kraft Music Hall broadcast of 9oct41 on CD 48736 of
his Vintage Radio Classics series. That means that we have now a
complete version of Take the "A" Train. On all previous
releases the first 12 bars were missing. We have also the complete
version of Flamingo, Jimmy Blanton's last recording. This
version was never issued and fanatic tape collectors have only an
incomplete recording of this selection. Jerry Haendiges can be
contacted through email: <Jerry@otrsite.com> and at 13808
Sunset Drive, Whittier, CA 90602, U.S.A. Phone/Fax (562) 696-4387.
We paid $ 16.- plus $ 7.- for shipping.
03/3 DEMS 8/3
I have just received my catalogue of "MUSIC BOOKS" from Yale University Press <www.yalebooks.co.uk>
DUKE ELLINGTON JAZZ COMPOSER by Ken Rattenbury. Illustrated
paper back; GBP 15.95
It will at least bring down the ridiculous second hand price.
Also: FRIENDS ALONG THE WAY (A Journey Through Jazz) by Gene Lees. 15 Mini biographies
YOU CAN'T STEAL A GIFT (Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Milt
Hinton and Nat King Cole) by Gene Lees. His encounters with four
Takes Incorrectly Identified in Discographies
03/3 DEMS 9
The New DESOR team and I agree that Raretone's
"so-called" take one of Harmony in Harlem (20Sep37) should
instead be designated as something else (see DEMS 03/2-14/1).
They prefer to show this take without any suffix, i.e., as mx. M650. (See Correction-sheet 1051)
Two other masters, also discussed in DEMS 03/2-14/1, that should be similarly designated: the alternate takes (20Mar39) of masters WM998 (Subtle Lament) and WM999 (Lady in Blue), which first appeared on Smithsonian P2 14273 and Up-to-Date 2002 respectively. As 78 r.p.m. masters of these performances were never manufactured, they were not allocated take designations at the time of recording, and therefore should also be identified as takes without suffixes.
These might also be identified by substituting the word "rehearsal" instead of a take suffix, thus M650-rehearsal, WM998-rehearsal, WM999-rehearsal.
Ellington's Pathé sessions of Sep25 and Mar26 were originally recorded on large cylinders, approximately five inches in diameter and 13 inches in length which were then dubbed onto 10-inch 78 r.p.m.'s. Unfortunately, the company files for this period no longer survive to give data of dates and takes. At this time, the company used letter-suffixed takes for their masters; dubbings received a suffix number according to the sequence of transfer attempts. Thus, the following masters originally bore letter, not number, suffixes: n106250-, n106251-, n106729- and n106730-. (The "n" prefix was Pathé's way of indicating a "needlecut," or lateral recording as opposed to a vertical one.)
As for the Pathé session of Mar28, company files for this period no longer survive, while U.S. master pressings from this session on Pathé and Perfect are "sunken-label" pressings, made from stampers from which the centers were milled out, thereby removing the engineer's handwritten master/take notations. Fortunately, 108079-1 and 108080-1 were also master pressed on the Salabert label in France. These pressings have "flush" centers, on which master and take numbers are visible "under the label," as it were. The third title from this session, Take It Easy, was only issued in the U.S., on sunken label pressings lacking master and take data. That Take It Easy is actually master 108081 is an educated guess, arrived at because of the sequence of corresponding Cameo versions of the same titles that we surmise were also recorded the same date, and because master 108078 is known to be by Willard Robison. Discographies have long cited "108081-1," but I have found no evidence to support the claim that it is actually take one. It might best be shown as 108081-.
On page one of "Comments on Timner's 4th Edition" (which came as supplement of DEMS 98/2), I noted the following, which the New DESOR team apparently disregarded: as regards the Gennett session of 21Jun26, "files show that the plain-suffixed takes were in each case issued while the A-suffixed takes were rejected"; as regards the session of 14oct26, "Take dispositions: GE-X323 issued; GE-X323A rejected; GE-X324 rejected; GE-X324A issued." (The New DESOR team are of course welcome to dispute these last statements, but as diligent researchers, they might wish to first examine the company files for themselves, as I have, rather than placing their faith in old discographies. Gennett file data is split between two places, the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers and the Indiana Historical Society Library in Indianapolis.)
Files for Brunswick-Vocalion-Melotone Records 1923-31 are split between Vivendi-MCA and Sony; I believe I've examined all that survive. One crucial ledger book, which documented sessions by The Jungle Band and The Six Jolly Jesters between 1Mar29 and 27oct30, is long lost but a report (found at Rutgers), prepared by Gene Williams of Decca Records in 1944, when that ledger still existed, details the range of masters and takes recorded by The Jungle Band and The Six Jolly Jesters during the period through 1931. Unfortunately, original U.S. pressings are sunken-label and don't bear take data while the ledgers practically never tell us which take was chosen for issue. This data is occasionally found on the company's "issue cards," held at Sony. Another reliable source of data are the surviving metal parts (of which there are less than 20 from the period 1926-31), master-pressed tests, some 1930s/40s-era U.S. master pressings that show take data stamped in the run-out area, also some non-U.S. pressings which show the engineer's inscriptions "under the label."
Surviving ledger books and Gene Williams' report indicate that A and B takes were recorded of each of the following masters, but which takes were chosen for release isn't noted in the files that survive, nor on any of the many exotic master pressings I've examined. Note that while many earlier discographies indicate that the "A" takes of these masters were issued, the same works also incorrectly identify Harlem Flat Blues (1Mar29) and Black and Blue (29Jul29) takes A as issued, whereas we now know that the B takes were released in both cases. This might be interpreted as reflecting negatively on the credibility of old discographies on the subject of takes issued on Brunswick, and so it should: For this exercise, old discographies are considered unreliable, also data found on dubbed issues at any speed.
2oct28: E-28441 Awful Sad
8Jan28: E-28939 Doin' the Voom Voom
1Mar29: E-29381 Rent Party Blues
29Jul29: E-30586 Jungle Jamboree
21Feb30: E-32210 Maori
20Mar30: E-32449 Admiration
An inventory of metal parts extant in Dec31 includes A
and B takes of each of the following masters by Bill Robinson
Accompanied by Irving Mills and His Hotsy Totsy Gang; I don't known
which takes were issued:
13Sep29: E-30526 Ain't Misbehavin'
13Sep29: E-30527 Doin' the New Low Down
Evidence in the form of an exotic pressing bearing take
data may someday surface for some or all of the eight Brunswick
masters just cited; until that day, their take designations are most
accurately expressed as "-A or B," thus E-28441-A or B, etc.
A and B takes were recorded and issued of master E-31301, Six or Seven Times by the Six Jolly Jesters (25oct29), but I've found no evidence to establish which take is A and which B. I therefore suggest designating one take as "-A or B," the other as "-B or A." (The latest edition of Rust's Jazz and Ragtime Records shows E31302 as an unknown title by this same band, but as this master number isn't found in Gene Williams' listing — unlike E31301, which is — the claim can be discounted as being without foundation.)
The surviving files don't indicate the range of takes recorded of the following rejected masters by Bill Robinson Accompanied by Irving Mills and His Hotsy Totsy Gang:
18Dec29: E-31728 Sweet Mama
18Dec29: E-31729 Black Beauty
One might designate these as E31728- and E31729-, or
alternately show an "A" take of each title (a logical presumption)
with a footnote that "B" takes were likely also made of each title in
accordance with Brunswick's usual practice; "C" takes and higher were
Steven Lasker, 27oct03
THE SPOTLIGHT BANDS
by Harry MacKenzie and Jerry Valburn
03/3 DEMS 10
THE ORIGINAL SERIES (November
On Monday, 3Nov41, the Coca-Cola Company launched a new radio series on the Mutual Broadcasting System (MBS). The series was called SPOTLIGHT BANDS (SB). It would turn out to be one of the most important series of radio music programs. The format was a simple one. A 15 minute broadcast of a different band each night from Monday through Friday, and then a 25 minute broadcast on Saturday night of the band with the best selling record of the week. The band pickup’s came from ballrooms, hotels, theatres and the MBS Radio Studios. This successful program ran through 2May42 ending this original series with a Saturday broadcast by Harry James from the studios of KHJ in Los Angeles. Turning up acetates of this series has been a very difficult job. While the radio listings of the bands playing each night is fairly accurate, the details on the tunes performed do not appear to have been kept and very few of the programs have fallen into the hands of collectors. One bright spot is the WAR DEPARTMENT (there was no Armed Forces Radio Service at that time).
The WAR DEPARTMENT contracted with the WORLD BROADCASTING COMPANY to air check, master and press for them 13 programs from the Saturday broadcasts. The pressings were done as 12" recordings at 33 1/3 rpm. Then the discs were shipped to many military camps around the US where they could be played and enjoyed by the servicemen stationed there. On the original series "sadly" there are no Duke Ellington appearances.
THE VICTORY PARADE OF SPOTLIGHT BANDS
In the fall of 1942, with the war effort now in full swing, Coca-Cola decided to launch a new series. These broadcasts would be 25 minute shows heard every night, Monday through Saturday. The pick-ups would originate from military installations, war plants and college campuses where military personnel were training. This was a very ambitious undertaking involving extensive travel by the radio people and the various bands as well. Coca-Cola contracted with the new radio network, The Blue Network (later known simply as "ABC, the American Broadcasting Company"). Depending upon the size of the audience, the bands might perform more than one show and also entertain the audiences playing a complete dance after the broadcast. Many of the additional shows were recorded to be used as substitute programs if a given band was unable to reach their location for a given broadcast. These "stand-by" programs contained a full 25 minutes worth of music with no indication as to the location. The audience cheering was referred to simply as "the audience". This meant easier editing by Armed Forces Radio Service when they began transcribing the series.
UNCLE SAM’S CHRISTMAS TREE
One of the most important contributions by Coca-Cola was an ambitious effort on Christmas Day in 1942. The company booked the Blue Network for 12 hours of broadcasting between 12:00 noon and 12:00 midnight. This special continuous program was called Uncle Sam’s Christmas Tree. Opening with Raymond Paige from the Washington studios of the Blue Network through the closing of Tommy Dorsey from the U.S. Naval Base in San Pedro, CA., some of the greatest bands appeared. These included such as Fletcher Henderson, Jack Teagarden, Louis Armstrong, Les Hite, GeneKrupa, Louis Prima, Earl Hines, Charlie Barnet, Freddie Slack, Jan Savitt, Ted Lewis, Tony Pastor and Benny Goodman. "(Alas, no Duke Ellington)". A historic event to be remembered.
In 1941 the Glenn Miller Orchestra was one of the most popular bands in the United States. On the original Spotlight Bands Series Miller made two appearances, on 22Nov and 6Dec41. The sponsor of Miller’s own radio show, Chesterfield Cigarettes, objected to his appearances on SB so these remained the only two. Then, in the Victory Series, Miller makes one historic appearance. It was historic because he was disbanding his orchestra and getting ready to join the Army Specialists Corps. The SB performance at the Central Theatre in Passaic, NJ on 26Sep42 was his one and only appearance on the Victory Parade of Spotlight Bands. Shortly, thereafter, Miller joined the Army Specialists Corps, it was dissolved and Miller became part of the Army of the United States. Strange as it sounds, he was never a member of the Army Air Corps.
ARMED FORCES RADIO SERVICE NOW
The Victory Parade Of Spotlight Bands had been running a little over six months before Armed Forces Radio Service (AFRS) entered the scene and were in a position to utilize the series. This involved some editing, deleting the commercials and cutting at least one tune to bring the 16" transcription down to 14:30 in time from the 25 minute original show. Their first program was on 22Mar43 with the Hal McIntyre Orchestra. This transcription became AFRS #1. AFRS had another difficult job. On certain nights in the series the program was pre-emptied by wartime addresses such as those delivered by President Roosevelt. AFRS had to use a replacement program to cover that particular SB night.
VICTORY PARADE CONTINUES, A NEW
FORMAT AND A NEW NETWORK
On Monday, 18Jun45, the series changed to a new format and at the same time resumed broadcasting on the Mutual Broadcasting System (MBS). The program would now be heard only three times a week (Monday-Wednesday-Friday). This format continued until the broadcast of 1Apr46.
Now, starting on that date, a final selection of three different bands was slotted. Mondays, Guy Lombardo; Wednesdays, Xavier Cugat and Fridays, Harry James.
This line-up continued until the final broadcast on Friday, 22Nov46 when Coca-Cola ended this great series.
AFRS CONTINUES THE SERIES
The program was very popular with the servicemen. AFRS made the decision to continue SPOTLIGHT BANDS, utilizing in most cases the Spotlight Band theme or having their announcer say "Spotlight Bands" over music. The music used in this series was gleaned from their vast library of recorded remotes from hotels, restaurants, and ballrooms. Much later in this series AFRS changed again now using a format involving three Latin styled bands for their Monday, Wednesday and Friday slots.
We’ve traced this series up to early 1949 (AFRS # 1100).
DUKE ELLINGTON’S INVOLVEMENT
On the VICTORY PARADE OF SPOTLIGHT BANDS Duke Ellington appeared a total of five times. The first appearance on 19Nov42 is strictly a Coca-Cola program (no AFRS participation then). His subsequent appearances (2 in 1943) (1 in 1944) and (1 in 1945) were all transcribed by AFRS and issued. Later in 1947 there are 5 transcriptions in the AFRS series of his appearances.
THE CANADIAN COCA-COLA SPOTLIGHT
The Canadian Victory Parade Of Spotlight Bands began on Monday, 1Feb43 broadcasting twice a week on Mondays and Fridays. This program ended on 29Dec44 with program # 200. This format was similar to the American version as were the locations used such as Army Training Centers and RAF Training Bases. Mart Kenney and his Orchestra appeared in all but 7 of the programs with the Bert Noisi Orchestra and the Alan McIver band filling in on the other programs.
DUKE ELLINGTON APPEARANCES
Thursday, 19Nov42, Night 52
Fort Dix, NJ
Coca Cola Signature; Perdido;
Just as Though You Were Here (vocal Jimmy Britton);
Hayfoot, Strawfoot (vocal Betty Roché);
Don’t Get Around Much Anymore; Goin’ Up;
Things Ain’t What They Used To Be
Saturday, 27Nov43, Night 372
Trico Products, Buffalo, NY (AFRS 217)
Coca Cola Signature; Blue Skies
I Wonder Why (vocal Betty Roché); Rockin’ In Rhythm;
Do Nothing ‘Till You Hear from Me (vocal Albert Hibbler);
A Slip of the Lip (vocal Ray Nance); Sentimental Lady
Wednesday, 8Dec43, Night 381
Army Air Corps, Langley Field, VA (AFRS 226)
Coca Cola Signature; Three Cent Stomp;
I Wonder Why (vocal Betty Roché);
Goin’ Up; Boy Meets Horn; Jump for Joy
Saturday, 8Jul44, Night 564,
Naval Training Center, Bainbridge, MD (AFRS 409)
Coca Cola Signature; G.I. Jive; Amor; My Little Brown Book;
Frankie and Johnny; Sentimental Lady;
It Don’t Mean a Thing (vocal Ray Nance and Taft Jordan)
Wednesday, 27Jun45, Night 863,
Coast Guard Training Center, AtlanticCity, NJ (AFRS 707)
Coca Cola Signature; Suddenly It Jumped;
The More I See You (vocal Kay Davis);
Kissing Bug (vocal Joya Sherrill); Mood To Be Wooed;
C-Jam Blues; Take the "A" Train
POST COCA-COLA (AFRS)
Friday, 25Jul47, AFRS 1044, Ciro’s, Hollywood, CA
Moon Mist; Prisoner of Love (vocal Chester Crumpler);
Harlem Air Shaft; Brown Penny (vocal Kay Davis)
Friday, 25Jul47, AFRS 1047, Ciro’s, Hollywood, CA
Beale Street Blues, Memphis Blues,
St. Louis Blues (vocal, Ray Nance); Mood Indigo; Harlem Air Shaft
Sunday, 3Aug47, AFRS 1077, Ciro’s, Hollywood, CA
Take the "A" Train;
Kinda Lonesome Out Tonight (vocal Chester Crumpler);
When I Walk With You (vocal Kay Davis); Passion Flower
Friday, 25Jul47/Friday, 1 Aug47, AFRS 1080, Ciro’s, Hollywood CA
Moon Mist (25 July, 1947); Passion Flower (1 August,
Tulip Or Turnip (vocal Ray Nance) (1 August, 1947);
Stompy Jones (1 August, 1947)
Wednesday, 30Jul47, AFRS 1083 , Ciro’s, Hollywood, CA
Take the "A" Train; Happy-Go-Lucky Local;
Minnehaha (vocal Kay Davis); Warm Valley; Beale Street Blues
(Some further investigation is needed here. Some of the broadcast titles may have been taken from the CBS broadcasts from El Pati o Ballroom, Lakeside Park, Denver, COL in Jul47).
At the End of 2003
03/3 DEMS 11
You may have read in this Bulletin (03/3-4) that this CA-31 is
the last DEMS Azure cassette. Not only did we lose the gentleman Karl
Emil Knudsen, the owner of the copyrights of unissued Ellington
recordings, with whom we had an agreement; also, the fact that there
will be no registered membership anymore starting next year makes it
impossible to continue with the cassettes "for DEMS members only"
without encountering problems with copyright holders.
This last cassette is a genuine DEMS cassette. It consists exclusively of material that has been donated to DEMS to be shared with other members.
The late Dick Bakker gave me a recording of a broadcast by
Willis Conover for the Voice of America, devoted to the Readers
Digest recordings. It contained this original recording of Mister
Lucky with Wild Bill Davis on organ. This version was issued long
ago on a Readers Digest release that almost nobody has been able to
The version recently released on the RCA 3 CD set "DE - Live and Rare" (see 02/2-23/3) was an unknown alternate take without Wild Bill Davis.
Charlie Plank wrote me on 20Jan03: "Phil Bailey, the one who furnished me the tape of the RPI concert, passed away a month ago. He was a DJ here and an active member of the Louisville Jazz Society. The jazz community here will miss him. Incidentally, when I told him of your interest he was glad, because he felt it was too good to just be heard by a few." I agree!
Hogo Soto Molina donated to DEMS a tape with a concert in
Santiago de Chile. My friend, DEMS member Gunther Schuller, was in
the audience. It is a fact that Ellington's 1971 orchestra could not
compete with his earlier orchestras. Nevertheless I am sure that you
all would have tried to get a ticket for this concert if you could.
Close your eyes and imagine that you were there.
Reader's Digest recording session at RCA Studio, N.Y.C., 4Sep69
Mister Lucky 6934a
City Auditorium of Troy, dance date for Rensselear Polytechnic Institute, 24Feb62
the "A" Train 6210a
In a Mellow Tone c
Sophisticated Lady d
Diminuendo in Blue and Wailing Interval f/g
Things Ain't What They Used To Be % h
Santiago de Chile Teatro Caupolican, Concert at 21:45 hrs, 26Nov71
Love Call 7185c
The Mooche d
Kinda Dukish & Rockin' in Rhythm e/f
Happy Reunion g
Santiago de Chile continued
the "A" Train 7185h
Soul Flute j
% Perdido m
Satin Doll n
Things Ain't What They Used To Be o
In Triplicate p
S La Plus Belle Africaine q
Welcome to Gunther Schuller
How High the Moon v
Lotus Blossom z
What do these titles mean?
See DEMS 03/1-12
03/3 DEMS 12
The response from DEMS members has been overwhelming.
The first one who reacted was Lars-Erik Nygren who came up with an answer on question 28.
The second was Bernard Dupuis who wrote that he has a book titled "Tell Your Story", subtitled "A Dictionary of Jazz and Blues recordings 1917 - 1950" by Eric Townley, Storyville publications (1976). There are two volumes; he owns only the first one. He was so generous to copy for us the explanations he found in this book.
Hans-Joachim Schmidt consulted J.E.Lighter "The Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang" (2 volumes) where he found several answers. Hans-Joachim pointed out that Lighter's dictionary could be expected to offer many answers since it used MIMM as a source.
Frank Dutton and Tony Adkins have volumes one and two of Eric Townley's dictionary, the second one is titled "Tell Your Story No. 2" (Storyville, 1987). They have used both volumes for their explanations and have both sent us some corrections on our answers in Bulletin 03/1. They also gave some info about the books.
Storyville was the British magazine edited by Laurie Wright and which has now ceased publication, and not the record company. Both volumes are now out of print, and could with advantage be reprinted. Their titles were "borrowed" from the titles of two Meade Lux Lewis piano solos from October 4, 1940. The books contain explanations for several thousand record titles made between 1917 and 1975.
From Frank's accompanying letter: "I was most interested in this subject, which is right up my street! Enclosed is my listing. Sorry if this takes up a large amount of space in the Bulletin, but you DID ask for answers!"
From Tony's accompanying letter a quote from the book: "All rights reserved. No parts of the book may be reproduced, ….., without the prior written permission of the copyright holder and publisher." We will take our chance.
Other contributions have come from Claude Carrière, Graham Peacock, Lance Travis, Roger Boyes, Steven Lasker and Ben Pubols. I have tried to make a combination of all these answers.
One title, Are You Sticking?, initiated a vivid discussion on Duke-Lym between Jane Vollmer, Daniel Caine, Andrew Homzy, Wendy Lawrence, Earl Okin, George Avakian, Ted Hudson, Jack Tracy, Fred Beckhardt, Dennis Askey and Stan Brager.
1. John Hardy's Wife
The name for any threatening, determined, or aggressive woman, a kind of female counterpart to John Henry. The expression is possibly derived from an old Negro folk ballad about John Hardy, a celebrated murderer, who killed a man at a gambling table, was caught, tried and hanged, leaving a wife and three children behind.
Bernard Dupuis, Tony Adkins & Steven Lasker
2. A Gathering in a Clearing
This means just what it says. It refers to the slavery years in the USA when Negroes had to hide in clearings in the woods at night to take part in forbidden "gospel" meetings. On the recording, Cat Anderson's fine growl trumpet takes the part of the "preacher" encouraging his congregation.
A generic term for a group of people meeting for worship services on a small plot of land from which trees and underbrush have been removed.
An acronym of Big Ass (Arse) Kock I (eyed) Floy Floy. The last two words are slang for pointless talk or chatter, "borrowed" from the 1938 hit The Flat Foot Floogie (with the Floy Floy). Hence Big Ass Cock Eyed Double Talk, an offensive put-down for any unfortunate recipient.
Frank Dutton, Claude Carrière, Tony Adkins & Steven Lasker
4. Are You Sticking?
Additionally, this is also a pun on "liquorice stick", a bad piece of jive slang for a clarinet. This is appropriate since the record features Barney Bigard.
Frank Dutton&Graham Peacock
Musical instruments stick some times, keyboard and valves do, which makes the playing difficult.
The tune is a feature for Barney Bigard. I figure the title was a take on his instrument, the "licorice stick".
Eric Townley, in his books "Tell Your Story", says that this is code for "are you working". Perhaps this originated with regards to an occupation that required a "stick" — Canadians, do not try to read too much into this.
More to the point, I remember a time when one was admonished to stick to one's job, to stick to school, to stick to a task which, while difficult or boring, could open doors or bring rewards in the future.
In England 'are you sticking' is a term asked when playing cards. The dealer is asking the player(s) whether they wish to keep the cards in their hand or pay money for another card (as in Pontoon or 21 as it is sometimes called).
As I remember it, the phrase we used in such card games was 'Stick or twist'. (Twist, meaning, chance being dealt another card.) Frankly, I would be surprised if Duke were referring to this highly British card-game phrase.
This is the answer that Barney Bigard gave me when I asked the question about 60 years ago. Barney's answer was, "Can I bum a roach from you?" Although a marijuana cigarette was seldom referred to as a "stick" (which may be why Duke used "sticking"), the use of the word would have been understood by musicians. Of course, "roach" was used more often than the public's favored term, "reefer". The pun of featuring Barney on his "stick" was a sly Ellingtonism, and may well have been the primary reason for the title, but "pot" (also in use in 1941) was no stranger to Barney, nor Duke, for that matter.
The most common explanation for the title is that it means the same as "are you holding?", which translates to "are you holding any grass?", or "do you have a stick of tea?"
I feel that George Avakian's and Jack Tracy's explanations are more colorful and have the flavor of Duke Ellington and Barney Bigard. Might I remind this august body that it was Barney Bigard's Sextet, which waxed "Sweet Marijuana Brown" on January 5, 1945?
When I was a youngster "Are you sticking?" was a very common slang expression that meant what Brad Bradbie said, "Do you have any bread?" This question, depending upon time, place, circumstances, and other variables could convey different linguistic purposes, for example: Did you get paid yet? - Do you have any walking-around money in your pocket? - Can you lend me some money? - I am broke, so can you pay my way in so that I can see this show at the Howard? - Are you ready to pay back what you borrowed from me last Tuesday? — Whatever, but all asking the basic question, "Do you have any money/bread?"
This is not a disagreement with anyone about a meaning of "Are you sticking?" We all know how fluid language is, especially metaphorical language. And, if Duke was the one who named the tune "Are You Sticking?", we are not surprised that it could mean anything apt, given the liberties he took with language.
5. Barzallai Lew
This is the correct spelling of the name. You should also speak of French and Indian Wars (not War).
I do not understand why Frank feels we should speak of Wars here, not War. As far as I can recall, The French and Indian War is simply the North American name for the war, which in British history books is, called the Seven Years' War. There was only one of it, whatever name you call it.
In my defense I would point out that in MIMM p.230, the spelling is Barzillai Lew.
Two other titles, Benson Alley & Benson's Boogie relating to radio disk jockey Al Benson.
8. Boudoir Benny
A colloquialism for a person who thinks he is a ladies' man but actually is not.
Bernard Dupuis, Tony Adkins & Steven Lasker
It may refer to Benny Payne who is reputed to have had prolific bedroom adventures with the ladies.
Another explanation I have heard: Boudoir Benny commemorates Benny Carter's prowess with the ladies.
9. B.P. Blues
Although BP usually refers to 'Black Power', in this instance is believed to be 'Blues Power'.
10. C.E.B. Blues
Do you mean Frank Capp, Herb Ellis and Ray Brown? This still does not explain the title.
Why not? These are the initials of the family names of the guitarist, bassist and drummer who accompanied Duke when he played this number on 2Jan69 in the Joe Bishop Show.
11. Charlie the Chulo
"Chulo" is a Spanish word for pimp. The recording is named after a man called Charlie who was a Spanish pimp operating in New York City at that time.
Bernard Dupuis, Tony Adkins & Steven Lasker
A chulo is a dandified or effeminate man. Alternatively a pimp.
Was a commonly used word for 'bed' in the British Armed Forces.
13. Chasin' Chippies
Seeking sexual contacts with prostitutes or promiscuous women.
Bernard Dupuis, Tony Adkins & Steven Lasker
The title is Chasin Chippies. Chippies are young women pursued by young men.
"Chippies" means loose-moraled, swinging, young sexpots.
15. Cy Runs Rock Waltz
is possibly a mis-spelling (or a punning spelling?) of Sirens Rock Waltz. Sirens Rock refers to the rocky shore from which the Sirens sang the irresistibly beautiful song with which they lured sailors to their doom by wrecking their ships (Homer, Odyssey, Book XII). See Andrew Homzy's essay Black Brown and Beige in Ellington's Repertoire in Black Music Research Journal vol.13, no.2, 1993, pp102-3). Ellington was familiar with the story through the 1917 Jerome Kern-P.G.Wodehouse Siren's Song (same source p102, and see also Mark Tucker – Ellington, the Early Years, p49). Billy also knew the story from being a young man — ('You came along/ With your siren song': Lush Life, mid-1930s).
17. Ducky Wucky
Ducky meant charming or cute.
Anything or anyone that is wonderful, excellent.
This is indeed Blue, reversed.
20. Frivolous Banta
Presumably a corruption of "banter", which is usually frivolous.
The way some people (English) would pronounce Banter. (To tease playfully)
"Bantam" is slang for a young woman, derived from "chick", and "banter" is good-humoured playful verbal teasing. The title is therefore a double pun.
Frank Dutton & Tony Adkins
This means, according to Duke, witless young women.
21. Hayfoot, Strawfoot
The use of hay and straw tied to soldier's legs was in widespread use in the British army for some years before World War One. One of my uncles who served in the Territorial forces in the early 1900s confirmed this.
22. Hodge Podge
A punning link between Johnny Hodges and an alternative spelling of 'hotchpotch', meaning a mixture of ingredients thrown together. Yet another spelling is 'hotpot', and those who were at the Ellington'85 conference in Oldham will have happy memories of the Lancashire Hotpot served up at that wonderful event, a delicious stew based on mutton. Small-group Ellingtonia like Hodge Podge is often perceived as being based on precisely such a casual mix of ingredients, the supposed aim being to allow the jazz soloists to stretch out further than the fully-scored arrangements for the whole band permitted. But these pieces are not so based, and even a cursory study invariably reveals that the mix of ingredients, far from being casual, is very carefully organised. Hodge Podge is no exception to this general rule, so taken in its purely literal sense the title, though clever, is a misnomer.
Roger Boyes, Frank Dutton, Graham Peacock, Dennis Askey & Steven Lasker
23. H'ya Sue
How are you, Sue?
It is not known whether Sue was a real person.
Bernard Dupuis, Tony Adkins & Steven Lasker
25. Johnny Come Lately
A newcomer joining a successful group of people, where his support or supposed expertise is no longer required. The tempo of the recording is not relevant.
Frank Dutton, Tony Adkins & Roger Boyes
A late arrival or newcomer, the new kid on the block. Maybe Hodges turned up late for the session.
A person behind the times, trying to catch up.
If Billy's 1942 piece referred to someone specific, I do not recall ever reading a reference to who that person was.
The fast tempo of the piece may be reflective of the aggressive, all-elbows energy of a Johnny-come-lately eager to make his mark and thereby attract notice.
26. Joog Joog
Is a light term for sex.
See also Joogie Blues. Synonymous with its sexual implications to 'Boogie': 'Boogie' for prostitute, 'Boogie Woogie' for syphilis.
A beginner with little experience. Possibly derived from "junior flip", a young musician.
Clark Terry thought this had sexual connotations.
Clark Terry told me that it means extraordinary, super, wonderful etc.
28. Kickapoo Joy Juice
Bugaboos and Kickapoos were Indian tribes, coined by Edgar Allan Poe in his satiric tale "The Man That Was Used Up", first published in the August 1839 issue of "Burton's Gentleman's Magazine", then revised and published in Poe's "Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque" in 1840.
I didn't know that Duke Ellington read Poe, but evidently, he did? I do not know what Joy Juice is, but it could possibly be something containing alcohol...
The satiric tale is about Brevet Brigadier General John A.B.C. Smith, who is a very imposing figure, with a magnificent physical figure. His speeches are as impressive as his figure, when he talks (boasts) about his triumphs in the wars. The narrator in the story, however, is not convinced and visits the General in his home. There he finds that the General is a person, all made up of "spare parts", because there wasn't very much left of him in the war. I think the story is to be interpreted as an allegory, where Poe wants to show his contempt for the masses that are so easy to fool.
All that is said in the story about the Kickapoos is that the General is famous for the bravery he has shown in "the swamp-fight away down south, with the Bugaboo and Kickapoo Indians" and how quick the Kickapoos were when they tortured him. I thought that Poe invented these names, but when I checked it up, I found that Kickapoos really existed: they were an Algonquin tribe, living in Wisconsin. In the 1830's, they were moved to a reserve in Kansas.
If the Kickapoo Indians were an offshoot of the main Algonquin tribe, living up north in Wisconsin, what were they doing "away down south" in swamp-fights?
No details are given for the Bugaboo Indians. Just to confuse matters, there is an explanation for Boogaboo (sometimes spelt Bugaboo) in Eric Townley's dictionary, which refers to failure, bad luck and superstitious fear. This evidently has no connection with the Indian tribe.
Back in the heyday of newspaper comic strips in the U.S., a very popular strip was "Li'l Abner" by Al Capp. The strip dealt with a "hillbilly," Li'l Abner and his family, friends, and neighbors, in the imaginary isolated rural town of Dogpatch, somewhere in the middle of Appalachia.
Li'l Abner was a young man whose mother was Mammy Yokum. One of her pearls of wisdom was "good is better than evil because it's nicer." Two of the characters in the strip were Lonesome Polecat and Hairless Joe, who operated an illegal still, making moonshine whiskey. The whiskey was known as "Kickapoo Joy Juice," "a liquor of such stupefying potency that the hardiest citizens of Dogpatch, after the first burning sip, rose into the air, stiff as frozen codfish."
The name of an African king, probably mythical like Old King Dooji (see question 34).
Bernard Dupuis & Tony Adkins
32. Krum Elbow Blues
Krum Elbow (or Crum Elbow, as it is usually spelt) was the name of an estate, taking its name from a small river, Crum Elbow Creek, owned by the religious leader Father Divine, and was situated near East Park, six miles North of Poughkeepsie, by the Hudson River in the state of New York. Father Divine's Crum Elbow estate was on the opposite site of the Hudson River from President Roosevelt's Hyde Park home.
Bernard Dupuis, Tony Adkins & Steven Lasker
See also Klaus Stratemann p154.
The real name of Father Divine is George Baker from Georgia, born circa 1880, died 1965.
The krumhorn or crumhorn was a reed instrument having a tube curved at the end. The curve would be the elbow, similar to plumbing.
33. Malletoba Spank
A made-up title based on the large number of vibraphones, marimbas, xylophones and other percussion instruments used on the recording session, for which malletswere used. The meaning for the remainder of the first word is based on the name of the Canadian province of Manitoba.
Frank Dutton, Tony Adkins & Hans-Joachim Schmidt
Duke loved unusual names! Spank describes a slap with the flat of the hand, usually when punishing a child, and therefore can mean a strike or hit. Very appropriate for mallets!
Malletoba Spank spelled with ll gives the clue to the meaning. It is a punning reference to the large number of mallet-wielding percussionists who augmented the Ellington Orchestra on the 25Feb59 Columbia recording session which produced the amazing Spank and the equally remarkable Tymperturbably Blue. One of those percussionists was the eminent jazz drummer, Bobby Rosengarden. If over the years you've enjoyed David Attenborough's long and distinguished sequence of BBC television series on the wildlife of our planet, you may be interested to know that Mr Attenborough chose this relatively obscure bit of Ellingtonia as one of his eight desert island discs on the eponymous BBC radio programme. I don't know whether there is a further punning reference in the title to the Canadian province of Manitoba. Thematically the Spank's companion piece, Tymperturbably Blue, seems related to a piano lick from Blutopia, which Ellington recycled many times in many contexts.
34. Old King Dooji
Duji (origin unknown) means narcotic, heroin. The sense intended in the 1939 titles of swing tunes is not clear (Dooji Wooji; Old King Dooji).
A mythical African king, renowned for his sexual prowess.
Frank Dutton, Tony Adkins & Steven Lasker
The correct spelling in your explanation should read Pratt Institute (not Prat). The current use of the word "prat" in Britain to denote a foolish stupid person does not apply here!
Could be used as used in 'prat fall': to fall on one's buttocks as per clowns etc. 'Prat' is an English slang word for 'fool'.
Stanley Dance's notes to the Degas Suite (private collection Vol. 7) indicate specifically that this does not refer to the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Rather it was a Ducal abbreviation of pratfall inspired by the painting "The Fallen Jockey." In American English "pratt" means buttocks, so a pratfall can be either comical or humiliating. In English English the word relates to a nearby anatomical, but is restricted to the female of the species. It is also a very unflattering description of a person. In this case we must assume Duke was speaking American English...
The correct spelling is Rex Stewart, not Stuart.
You are right, but for my defense, I ask you to look in DEMS 2000/1-11/2&3.
42. Squaty Roo
One of Johnny Hodges' nicknames which never caught on, and a mildly derogatory reference to his small stature.
Bernard Dupuis, Frank Dutton, Tony Adkins & Steven Lasker
I have not found this nickname anywhere else.
Squaty is not accepted by my spell-checker. Squatty means fat and thick according to my dictionary.
The original title is spelt "Squaty", and I think we should accept this as the primary source, whatever the spelling. Unless the Smithsonian has original manuscript music for this composition?
"Squatty Roo" is the nickname for a short, chubby person.
More on Squaty Roo. "Roo" is the abbreviation for the Australian animal, the kangaroo. "To squat" is to bend one's knees and rest on the back of one's heels, keeping the knees off the ground, and the kangaroo adopts this position when at rest, therefore appearing smaller and shorter.
I asked Alice Babs about this title at Ellington '88 in Oldham, assuming it was a Swedish word. She told me that there was no such word in Swedish, and that it was a made-up nonsense title with no meaning.
44. Sump'n' 'Bout Rhythm
"Sump'n' " is the black pronunciation of the word "something". Hence "Something About Rhythm" — what a modest Ducal title!
Frank Dutton, Claude Carrière & Hans-Joachim Schmidt
45. Switch Blade
A knife with a blade which appears from and retracts into the hilt by pressing a spring-loaded button. Highly illegal!
Also known as a flick knife in Britain.
There is a Fats Waller item 'Tanglefoot', a nickname for cheap whiskey that just maybe the origin …. just a thought.
This means Too Good To Title, not Too Great.
50. The B.O. of Traffic
Probably "Body Odour", after old advertisements for Lifebuoy toilet soap.
I think Graham Peacock's suggestion is somewhat implausible due to the time lag. The Lifebuoy publicity probably began back in the 1930s. Could "B.O." stand for "B - Officer"?
This may be a reference to traffic pollution a la Los Angeles, for instance?
51. The Mooche
Was there not a dance named The Mooch(e)?
A slow, dragging dance. Its name is derived from the slang verb "mooch", which means "to move, or wander about, in a slow, aimless manner".
Bernard Dupuis & Tony Adkins
What was Minnie the Moocher doing?
The song lyrics, immortalised by Cab Calloway, tell us that "She was a low-down hoochie-coocher". The hoochie-coochie was an extremely low-life dance where — to coin a phrase — "everything was shaking"…
Moose the Mooche, by Charlie Parker, is the nickname of Emry Byrd, an ex-college-athlete, whose legs were paralysed by poliomyelitis, a jazz fan and proprietor of a shoeshine and jazz and blues record stand on Central Avenue, Los Angeles. This served as a cover for the more profitable business of selling narcotics and Byrd supplied Charlie Parker with heroin, before he was arrested and sent to San Quentin jail.
A person who habitually borrows small amounts of money, cigarettes etc. without any intention of repaying.
Dennis Askey & Graham Peacock
My reference to the title The Mooche is speculative. It is based in part on the word "mooch" as defined in Webster's Dictionary although without the letter "e" at the end. For what it is worth, the Webster term was once in frequent use by Duke and members of his band when speaking of certain managers, producers and free-booting band leaders whom
they called "moochers".
A zoomer was a different type of mooche who specialised in bumming drinks from the musicians, who chose to ignore him and let him salivate, or drool.
According to Ellington ("Rhythm", Aug33p23), "the word 'moocher' became familiar to you some time ago through a popular dance tune [i.e., Minnie the Moocher. SL], but I doubt many people know the real meaning of it, which is a 'swindler.' From the same basis I named a song, The Mooche, but here the meaning is slightly different, representing a certain lazy gait peculiar to some of the folk of Harlem." Ellington is quoted by Stanley Dance (album notes to Columbia set C3L-27) as describing The Mooche as both "a stylized jungle" and "a sex dance".
Incidentally, two different spellings are found: The Mooch: Copyright registration, sheet music, ASCAP registration, MIMM, labels of Diva and Velvetone 78s. The Mooche: per the New DESOR, also the original 78s on the OKeh, Brunswick, Pathé, Perfect and Victor labels.
In her notes to the 60th anniversary reissue of the famous Fargo Crystal Ballroom recordings, Annie Kuebler writes "The original Mooche, recorded on October 1, 1928, dripped with sorrow but this new version eerily mimics the Harlem slouch walk it purportedly described." I find this both linguistically and musically a more satisfying explanation of the title than the Webster's definition I sent you earlier, which would fit "Moocher" better.
52. The Sergeant Was Shy
This could be any sergeant. The tune is based on the chord changes of Bugle Call Rag, a subtle military cross-reference.
A small simple flute-like instrument. See reference 5 to Barzallai Lew (in DEMS 03/1-12). This was a feature for Norris Turney on flute.
55. T.T. on Toast
Two tits on toast (!), a food and sex analogy indicating that a girl's breasts are attractively beautiful and therefore figuratively good enough to eat.
Tony Adkins & Steven Lasker
Sometimes used facetiously in restaurants as an order to attractive waitresses.
Frank Dutton, Tony Adkins & Steven Lasker
Small wonder the piece was broadcast as Lady in Doubt — the title T.T. on Toast wouldn't have slipped past the censors at any radio network unless they were asleep. It is amazing that the title was unchanged by the Mills office or Columbia Records in 1947 when it was first released. Would George Avakian care to comment?
When I found the metal master of this unissued 1938 Ellington recording, I was rather shocked by the title, and I called Mills Music to ask if they really intended it as the title. I was ready to change the title to something else, like "Tea and Toast". But Allie Brackman, assistant to Sidney Mills, assured me that that's the title Duke had wanted. "He OK'd it, and that's the way we copyrighted it."
With some reluctance, I put it through unchanged. I was very surprised that no one at Columbia made any comment, or even asked if Mills Music really intended that title. The paperwork went through unchanged, and Mills issued a license with that title. I was still concerned that there might be a reaction, but no distributors, no dealers, and no members of the buying public ever said a word about it. A year later, Duke said to me, "That was a private joke. I don't mind, but if you had called me, I would have given you a better title." Duke was right; if I had chosen to speak to Duke first, he would have been able to reverse his slightly off-color 9-year old decision. But music publishers had a great deal of power in those days and once I called Mills, I felt I was in no position to argue with the copyright owner's unequivocal decision.
No previously unrecorded composition could be issued without the publisher granting a license, and the publishers enforced this rule stringently because it enabled them to control which artists (or a combination of artists on more than one label) could introduce a new song on records. It gave them the right to dictate who got the jump on a new song. It also prevented the release of a recording by a lesser artist than one that the publisher wanted. For example, if Irving Berlin, who published his own music, insisted that only a Frank Sinatra recording of a song from a new Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers musical would be granted an initial license, Columbia could not release a recording of it by another artist until after a rival company had issued it, let's say by Bing Crosby on Decca, at which point the Columbia version would be lost in the wake of the Crosby release - and worse still, the Columbia would probably find that Berlin's next potential hit song would be given exclusively to RCA Victor for first release.
The record business has always been far more complicated than the public realizes.
56. Unbooted Character
A naïve unsophisticated person.
Tony Adkins & Steven Lasker
The opposite of contrived. Unplanned.
59. Veldt Amor
Veld, Afrikaans, from the Dutch = field. Sometimes spelt in English "veldt". Old English "feld" = field.
I think if we can have Guitar Amour (Guitar Love) we can definitely have Field Love!
See also Come Off the Veldt. You can book a tour to the South African Veldt.
61. Wig Wise
Could mean acquainted with narcotic drugs, as in wig-out.
"Wig" means hair, as in "flipping one's wig", and by extension the entire head. This title therefore means very intelligent or sharp.
You have him in the Bulletin 03/1-8/1: "Wig" a.k.a. Gerald Wiggins. The piece is a good-natured parody of his piano style.
"Wig Wiser" means intelligent or intellectual.
"Wigging" is musicians slang for playing cool or 'way out' Jazz!
Final note: The Duke would have been greatly amused by this exchange.
Satin Doll and the Seven Little Men
03/3 DEMS 17
DEMS member Georges Debroe has acquired an original drawing by
T. Hee. He has very generously allowed us to reproduce it in DEMS
Bulletin. The drawing came with this description:
This is an original hand drawn portrait of Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington as drawn by Disney artist-director, T. Hee. T. Hee drew this in the mid 1940s when T. Hee and Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn and Mary Blair were collaborating on a project together called "Cole Black and the Seven Dwarfs" that is well covered in the new book on Mary Blair from Disney.
T. Hee was an (off-and-on) director, designer, writer for Walt Disney back in the 1930s thru the 1960s.
T. Hee designed the characters in "Mother Goose Goes Hollywood" and directed sequences in "Pinocchio", "Reluctant Dragon" and "Fantasia". As a designer T. Hee created the Exterior Dolls on the "It's a Small World" clock at Disneyland. T. Hee also taught animation at California Institute of the Arts in the early 1980s.
In John Franceschina's "Duke Ellington's Music for the Theatre" p93-96 I found a detailed account of this project. John Franceschina gave me immediately permission to reprint these pages in DEMS Bulletin:
With the production of Man with Four Sides at a standstill, Ellington looked for other creative opportunities, one of which he found on his own doorstep, in a project that had been announced as early as January 1946, during the run of Beggar's Holiday: Cole Black and the Seven Dwarfs, a "hip" revision of the Snow White story.
On 25 August 1948, Down Beat announced that screenwriter
William Cottrell and T. Hee, who worked for the Disney corporation,
would produce the book and lyrics, and that William Hertz, Jr., was
signed as producer. On 17 May 1949, a "Standard Uniform Popular
Songwriters Contract" was signed by the lyricists with Ellington and
Strayhorn for the show's big ballad, "Once Upon a Dream," and
two months later, on 18 July, another one of the principal songs from the show, "I Could Get a Man," was registered for copyright. Little developed of the project until August 1955, when a full script emerged, promising a production with sets and costumes by Mary Blair. Finally, inspired by the popularity of Strayhorn and Ellington's early 1950s hit, "Satin Doll," T. Hee, William Cottrell, and a new collaborator, Lowell Matson, transformed the African American equivalent of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," Cole Black and the Seven Dwarfs, into Satin Doll and the Seven Little Men.
Satin Doll begins with a prologue in which Queenie finds out, by way of her magic mirror, that there exists someone finer and fairer than she, by the name of Satin. Suddenly the scene shifts to a nightclub called the Palace, where Queenie is both emcee and entertainer, and Satin is the hat check girl ("I Could Get a Man"). The Prince arrives, takes instant notice of Satin ("Once Upon a Dream"), and invites everyone to his house for a party, hoping that his interest in Satin will go unnoticed by Queenie. While Satin changes her clothes to go to the party, Queenie pays Hunter, her henchman and trouble-shooter, to drive Satin far away from the city and cut her heart out.
In the next scene, outside Queenie's Palace, a policeman comes by and spoils Queenie's plot by joining Hunter and Satin, who escapes into an alley and has a ballet dream about all that has happened. She is discovered the next morning by Cub Scouts who take her (conning Hunter into showing off his strength by carrying her) to the seventh floor of a boar-ding house, the "Cold Water Den of the Seven Little Men," where they think she will be safe, and the curtain falls on Act One.
In Act Two, Scene One, the "Cold Water Den," Satin has nowhere to turn, having telephoned the Prince but finding Queenie on the other end of the line (Hunter had informed her that Queenie was involved in the plot to kill her). However, she cheers up when she sings a "commercial" number about Wishy Washy Soap – a soap that can do anything! If a soap can do it, so can she! An extended jive ballet follows during which the seven little men (now shoe shine boys) do their work on various people including the Prince, who extemporizes in song about his emotional condition, "It's Love I'm In" with the help of the seven little men. Singing, "Hi De Hi," a marching song, the seven little men return home. Apparently, they were musicians at an earlier point in their career, but having been unable to get that kind of work for a long time, they now shine shoes. Initially surprised at finding Satin in the cold water den, they quickly get used to her presence and begin to enjoy singing with her ("Satin Doll"), even though at bedtime Satin appropriates all of their beds and the little men are forced to sleep on the fire escape. Back at the Palace, the mirror tells Queenie that Satin is still alive despite the fact that Hunter had brought her a heart ("all beef," says the mirror). The delivery boy, who delivered the heart, reappears and bungles Hunter's excuse. The mirror suggests that Queenie should do the "old poison apple" bit and suggests that Old Granny could take care of it. The hag appears when summoned and, during a Voodoo Ballet, creates the poisoned pippin. Queenie gets into her peddler-woman disguise, then telephones the seven little men as the curtain falls on Act Two.
At the beginning of Act Three, Queenie has sent the seven little men to the mortuary to "dig" a grave, a play on words they initially enjoy, until they realize its full significance. Suddenly remembering that they have left Satin all alone, they rush back to their cold water den, where Queenie, pretending to be a scent salesperson, convinced Satin to inhale a poisoned perfume. The seven little men arrive too late to prevent Satin's death and they take her to the cemetery where the Prince, who has been out of town on business, suddenly appears, and kisses the dead girl. As in all fairy tales, a Prince's kiss is magical, and Satin awakes.
The finale scene opens on "Satin Doll's Castle Club," a swinging
place, where the seven little men return to their profession as
musicians, and the Prince and Satin sing happily ever after "I Could
Get a Man," and "It's Love I'm In" reprise.
Four songs exist for Satin Doll, either written specifically for the project, or borrowed from Ellington/Strayhorn's vast catalog of tunes. In "I Could Get a Man," Satin identifies
her bad luck with men. Beginning in F-minor, the melody makes ample use of the flatted seventh and raised fifth degrees of the scale to create a very bluesy modality, even though the composition ends in a major key. The structure of the song is unique for a theatre composition with an 8 bar A, another 8 bar A, a 4 bar B, and 4 bar A as a recapitulation. The song format displays a kind of nervous energy and an awkward, inarticulate quality, emphasized by the terse, colloquial lyrics, assembled in units of 10 to 12 syllables.
The Prince's "Once Upon a Dream," in contrast, is built on much longer melodic and lyrical phrases, though the nine bar construction (instead of the more typical eight) creates as certain awkwardness as well, subtly connecting the Prince's personality with that of Satin. While the melodic contour of the chorus is essentially stepwise, with no skip greater than a third, the release is filled with leaps of an octave, and melody notes a full two octaves away from the lowest notes of the chorus. Again Ellington is experimenting with pictorialization, associating the concept of "castles in the air" with the higher vocal register, and the dramatic insistence of a heart trying to express itself through the octave leaps. Although the harmony of the ballad is easily accessible, the dissonant suspensions created by the melody at bars 6, 7, 15, 16, 32, and 33, create a important dramatic tension that reflects the rhyming couplets in the lyric, aching to be resolved.
"Love I'm In" is a jaunty rhythm number cued in the script by the fact that the Prince's socks do not match. The repeatable A section has 8 bars and the B section, forming a kind of coda chorus to the lyrics "It's love I'm in" repeated three times, only four. The light-hearted, consonant melody is filled with syncopation and skips, but is easily memorable since it outlines a very basic harmonic structure: tonic-dominant, tonic-subdominant, dominant-tonic. The harmonic simplicity is embellished by the use of syncopated chords in the accompaniment. A version of the melody (in the key of Db) exists on the second page of Ellington's sketches for Moon of Mahnomen, and so the tune may have been composed as early as 1946.
By far, the most famous of the songs for Satin Doll is the title number, originally recorded as an instrumental on 6 April 1953 in Ellington's first Capitol recording session. In three weeks, reaching number 27 on the Billboard chart, "Satin Doll" was a moderate success, becoming the last single-record hit in the Duke's career. Originally an improvised riff – one of many tossed off by Ellington in his career – the tune was elaborated and harmonized by Billy Strayhorn who added a lyric extolling his mother, and using his pet name for her as the title. At some later point, Johnny Mercer added the lyrics that are known today. Written in a traditional AABA form, "Satin Doll" is exceedingly listener-friendly. It employs a repetitive two-note motif that changes pitch without changing shape, much in the same way that "Tea for Two" uses the repetition of a three note phrase on varying degrees of the scale. Beginning on ii7-V7, the harmony immediately demands resolution, but instead of resolving, it moves up a step to iii7-Vl7, and after a series of harmonically altered chords, finally finds its way back to the tonic, but not by way of a traditional cadence (IIb7-I instead of V7-I). The release uses an undulating tetra-chordal melody, first in the tonality of the subdominant, and next in that of the dominant, harmonically using the ii7-V7 pattern established at the beginning of the piece. The recapitulation is an exact repetition of the exposition, with no melodic change at the final note; rather than ending on the tonic, the melody ends on the fifth degree of the scale, creating a definite sense of non-resolution.
In Satin Doll, the number is used as a performance number
by a group of ex-musicians, the "Seven Little Men," entertaining
themselves with a houseguest, Satin. As a performance piece, the
responsibilities of a musical number – to provide
characterization or pictorialization of the dramatic moment –
are somewhat relaxed, and an audience is permitted to appreciate the
song as song and its ability to flaunt the strengths of the
performers. In the earlier version of the show, a song called "Sweet
Velvet O'Toole" was used in place of "Satin Doll." Dating back to
Ellington's Beggar's Holiday period, "Sweet Velvet" unsubtly
paints the picture of a grasping young adventurer, a "minor" with the
"instincts of a Forty-Niner," built like a bomber, who is "nobody's
fool." To create an interesting musical tension, the duple-meter
"swing" melody, highly syncopated and improvisatory in structure, is
accompanied in triple meter, evoking the
cadence of a march. The scene introducing the song is filled with comic physical business and it is likely that Duke desired to continue the sportive atmosphere through what would otherwise be construed as a "torch song."
Although full of interesting and memorable music and a very commercial hook, Satin Doll was never produced and Duke Ellington continued the search for a musical theatre property even though the composition of a series of musical suites with narration and or implied plots have satisfied his dramatic yearnings.
(reprinted from "Duke Ellington's Music for the Theatre" by John
Franceschina, published in 2001 by McFarland & Company. ISBN