Sunday, 28 November 2021

Bowled Over: The Philharmonic Ellington

 Dates have been announced for a season of the music of Duke Ellington with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra at The Walt Disney Concert Hall, The Hollywood Bowl.

Saturday, 22 January 2022 at 8:00pm and Sunday 23 January at 2:00pm:

Symphonic Ellington: Sacred Concerts

Thomas Wilkins, conductor, explores the unmatched legacy of Duke Ellington in a programme of his music for orchestra.


About this Performance

In 1943, Duke Ellington premiered two works about the experience of Black Americans—one, Black, Brown, and Beige, traced their collective history and another, New World A-Coming, imagined a hopeful future. Ellington wrote about the latter in his biography, “I visualized this new world as a place in the distant future, where there would be no war, no greed, no categorization, no non-believers, where love was unconditional, and no pronoun was good enough for God.”

Within the context of the orchestra, Ellington explored these themes, as well as his faith, in many forms, from sacred concerts to extended suites to tone poems. He brought the full range of his musical vocabulary to bear on his symphonic work, weaving spirituals, jazz, blues, and even West Indian dance music into his orchestrations. In two programs over four nights, Thomas Wilkins leads the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a weekend dedicated to the orchestral music of a great American composer.

Programme:

Black, Brown and Beige

Solitude

David Danced from the Sacred Concerts

Intermission

Selections from The Sacred Concerts

Details here.

Thursday, 20 January 2022, 8:00pm, Friday 21 January 2022, 8:00pm:

Symphonic Ellington: New World A-Comin’ with Gerald Clayton


Thu / Jan 20, 2022 - 8:00PM

Thomas Wilkins explores the unmatched legacy of Duke Ellington in a program of his music for orchestra.

About this Performance

In 1943, Duke Ellington premiered two works about the experience of Black Americans—one, Black, Brown, and Beige, traced their collective history and another, New World A-Coming, imagined a hopeful future. Ellington wrote about the latter in his biography, “I visualized this new world as a place in the distant future, where there would be no war, no greed, no categorization, no non-believers, where love was unconditional, and no pronoun was good enough for God.”

Within the context of the orchestra, Ellington explored these themes, as well as his faith, in many forms, from sacred concerts to extended suites to tone poems. He brought the full range of his musical vocabulary to bear on his symphonic work, weaving spirituals, jazz, blues, and even West Indian dance music into his orchestrations. In two programs over four nights, Thomas Wilkins leads the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a weekend dedicated to the orchestral music of a great American composer.

Programme:

Night Creature

New World A-Comin'

Intermission

Black, Brown and Beige

The River Suite

Details here.

Saturday, January 15, 2022, 8:00pm:

Robert Glasper Reimagines Ellington 

Sat / Jan 15, 2022 - 8:00PM

The pianist partners with an orchestra and some very special guests in a 21st-century tribute to Duke Ellington.


About this Performance

Like Duke Ellington before him, Robert Glasper sees through the boundaries that are often laid down between genres and styles of music. An accomplished pianist respected by the jazz establishment, he’s also deeply in touch with the sounds that are shaping the 2020s, and is a go-to collaborator for everyone from Herbie Hancock to Kendrick Lamar. Together with an orchestra and some very special guests, he’ll erase the boundaries of time, too, bringing the music of Ellington into conversation with jazz’s present and its future.

Details here.





Sunday, 3 October 2021

Tone Parallel

 


To be published on 13 October, 2021, Tone Parallel, a Newsletter on the music of Duke Ellington, available via the Substack platform.

If you have found the posts here on Ellington Live interesting, Tone Parallel is the next iteration of this blog.

The Newsletter takes the form of an essay covering aspects of Ellington's music and will be published quarterly.

The first edition celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of Ellington's winter tour of the UK in 1971 and the Togo Brava Suite.

Subscription to the newsletter is, and will remain, free.

To check out the details or to subscribe, please visit here.



Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Out! Damn'd Spotify

 ... as Lady Mac (nearly) said.

Here is just a reminder that the vast majority of Duke Ellington's recorded music that has been published commercially is available absolutely for free on the web in one form or another.

Here is a quick roundup/cut-out-and-keep guide where to find Ellington's catalogue. Well, in fact, it is beyond catalogue, but here we go... Just hit the hyperlinked title...


A recently discovered radio series the programming of which includes rarities and less often heard gems is
American Hit Network Channel 27: Duke Ellington


Virtually a complete library of Ellington's recorded work is available in the radio series hosted by Concertzender.



Highly recommended is Steve Bowie's podcast Ellington Reflections...



And just a reminder that the majority of Ellington's work from the 78 era may be found at Ellington 78s...

While a fascinating collection of Ellington on cassette and reel-to-reel may be found in The David W. Niven Collection of Early Jazz Legends, 1921-1991.

Happy Listening!





Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Ich bin...


Time was, you would wait for the release date and pick up a new LP or CD when it was published.

These days, the album is first streamed or made available on YouTube.

The release of the physical product Duke Ellington Berlin 1959 on the Storyville label has been delayed towards the end of September so for all those who can't wait, but want to start peeling away at the Christmas wrapping or are modern streaming hipsters, here is the album, courtesy of the cathode YouTube...




From the Storyville website...

What we have here is the welcome memento of Duke Ellington and his band’s 1959 European tour.

Berlin’s Sportpalast is not a concert hall and during the cursed Nazi reign often was the site of speeches by Hitler and his fellow criminals, but the hall can be said to have been thoroughly purified by sounds of jazz by the time of this concert.

The music starts with the Ellington Medley, by then a standard concert opener in varied embodiments. Critics often chided Duke for (in their opinion) overdoing this staple, but in fact it was not only a clever way of dealing with what undoubtedly would have been audience requests for beloved Ducal standards, but also a way of celebrating the continued life of his musical heritage. It also was subject to constant change, some due to new voices in the band, but most caused by Ellington’s own way of not making it a bore for his musicians. The Medley has a longer history than even serious students of Ellingtonia know. It makes its first appearance on records when Victor Records, in the depth of the Depression, introduced the Long-Playing Record. Yes, dear reader, in 1932! The discs, of a nice silvery hue, of course required a phonograph that could accommodate the required speed which was quite reasonably priced.

Some observations regarding personnel: An important new voice in the trumpet section was that of Clark Terry, previously with Charlie Barnet and Count Basie, most prominently. He came into his own with Duke but left after feeling that he got little to play other than his feature, Perdido. Aside from Terry, a non-soloing but important lead voice in the trumpet section is that of Andres Merenguito, also known as Fats Ford, who had served in Louis Armstrong’s last big band.

Trombonists Booty Wood and Britt Woodman/ the former great with the plunger mute, the latter great with high notes, were both proof of Duke’s way of finding new voices with personal traits. But the star of the section is Quentin “Butter” Jackson, whose long career included stints with McKinney’s Cotton Pickers, Cab Calloway, and Don Redman, first from 1932 to 1939 and then again for the 1946 European tour that included Copenhagen—first post-war visit by an American jazz band.

Bassist Wendell Marshall, a cousin of the immortal Jimmy Blanton, had some of the family genes with his full, pleasing sound, fine intonation and solid time. Less known is drummer Jimmy Johnson, remarkably effective as a stand-in for the gifted but frequently absent Sam Woodyard (they shared the drum chair for a moment). And then, of course, last but by no possible means least, the Ducal piano, from which he directs like a master conductor and accompanist. As is not always the case with live recordings he has a fine instrument at his disposal in Berlin, but one shortcoming here is the omission of his very personal verbal comments, mainly invocations of the soloists (some can be distantly heard).

We can be sure that the audience left satisfied—and so will you, having spent time in the good hands of a master.

Saturday, 7 August 2021

August in New York

 



August in the late sixties would find Duke Ellington in residency at The Rainbow Grill atop the Rockefeller centre, NY with an octet drawn from his Orchestra.

The performances were often relayed by CBS remotes so a number of albums have been issued from this source. This month is a good time, then, to work through the issued recordings...





A few shows from The Rainbow Grill were among the tapes i've been writing about here recently
in Reelin' In The Years and two of the shows were prefaced by recorded messages, one from critic and Ellingtonian Boswell Stanley Dance and one from baritone saxophonist Harry Carney.

The identity of the recipient of the tapes and the messages is something of a mystery beyond his first name, 'Irv'. The details of 'Irv's' collection are here. Irving Mills is an unlikely Ellington collector but 'Irv' must have been someone significant in Ellingtonian circles to receive a  personal message from Harry Carney. The best guess we have at the moment is the addressee may be Irving Townsend, sometime producer for Ellington at Columbia who, I believe, continued to be involved in new and re-issues of Ellington records long after Duke had left the label.

Anyway, in what is possibly a unique recording, I thought readers might like to hear the voice of Harry Carney, recorded some time in, I think, 1967, around the tile sessions were being recorded for the album And His Mother Called Him Bill...

Sunday, 18 July 2021

The Lady Vanishes...

 

Tony Bennett appeared with Duke Ellington and his Orchestra at Dane County Exposition Center on 25 April, 1968, as detailed in all the major Ellington discographies. No discography, however, lists these two songs - Who Can I Turn To? and The Lady's In Love With You. They feature on the reel-to-reel tape I acquired recently. 

The rest of the sets - a first half from Ellington and a second half from Bennett - are as featured in the discographies. This may be a different engagement to the tape recording that's listed in the discographies but I have no other tape with which to compare it. Alternatively and for some reason unknown, these two tunes have been omitted from the discographies. In any case, here is the performance. 

The Lady's In Love With You features a characteristically rambunctious solo from Paul Gonsalves...