Sunday, 12 January 2020

In the Beginning Godiva




Just over twelve months ago, 29 December, 2018, a previously 'lost' television transmission of Duke Ellington and his Orchestra filmed at Coventry Cathedral was screened for the first time in over fifty years at that venue.

The film was discovered in the cathedral's archive by Dr Nicolas Pillai and the screening was part of a presentation of Coventry's local history called Ghost Town

I thought you might like to see the only clips from the programme to which I have access, snipped via Quicktime from a television report about the presentation. A CD/download/Spotify recording of the original performance has been available for some little time on the Storyville label, details here. I hope one day the full concert recording may be released on DVD. Anyway, here now are some precious moments from the occasion...













Brave, Brilliant and Beautiful

By rights, January should be Black, Brown and Beige Month. Duke Ellington's chef-d'oeuvre was first performed publicly in this month, 1943. It was given its première on 23 January, 1943 at Carnegie Hall. 

I recently discovered, courtesy of Discogs that in November 2000, the French JAZZ Magazine issued a free CD of just the B,B and B portion of the Carnegie evening. A good idea - and not sure why no-one thought of it before.



I have ordered a copy of the disc and await its arrival. I'm assuming it's a straight copy of the version issued by Prestige. This would be a shame partly because the transfer from LP to CD on the Prestige label was not done well - the LP was much better but also mainly because the version which appears on Prestige is a 'cut and paste' from two different performances, borrowing parts from the performance five days later at Symphony Hall, Boston, Massachusetts. I do not think (leave a comment if I'm wrong about this) the suite was ever performed live again, complete, in Ellington's lifetime. 

The chequered history of the releases of this live concert are evident in the link to Brian Koller's excellent discography here.

What we really need is a sympathetically restored and remastered edition which releases the Carnegie Hall concert version whole for the first time and a complete version of the Symphony Hall concert also. We can dream!

Here is a scan of the relevant pages (a subscription coupon has been clipped from the copy I have) from JAZZ Magazine (click on the images to enlarge):



Some day soon, I must type up a version and put through Google Translate to compensate for my schoolboy-level of French.

I will also type up the notes from the original issue of the truncated studio version released by RCA Victor. Those can be read clearly on the following images taken from an auction for the hard bound set was recently for sale on eBay. Import charges stopped me putting in a bid for this copy! 













And finally, an interesting article on B,B and B I found recently may be read here.

Sunday, 5 January 2020

Plucked Again




The latest CD from la Maison du Duke, Paris has just been released.

Jimmie Blanton chez Duke Ellington collates real rarities from the period 1940-41 which feature the man who revolutionised the use of the double bass as an instrument and who died tragically young.

While the CD features nothing that has not been made available before, a number of these recordings - and those from the Kraft Music Hall radio programme in particular were only ever issued previously very obscurely -it is excellent to have all these rare recordings gathered together in one single volume and available for many listeners to whom they will be new.

The disc is only available to members of la Maison. Clicking the link above will enable you too find out more about joining.

As part of the centenary celebrations of Jimmie's birth in 2018, I wrote apiece for the Ellington Society UK's journal Blue Light. While on the subject of the bassist, then, here is a reprint of that article, which references some of the recordings in this new anthology and a link to sample the Kraft Hall produce!

______________________________

Did any instrumentalist within the Ellington Orchestra have a more far-reaching effect beyond the Orchestra itself than Jimmie Blanton?
   The thought that probably no musician did is even more astonishing when one considers that the profound effect the bass player had was achieved before his tragically early death at the age of twenty-three years old. 
   Indeed in the timing and manner of his death (from tuberculosis), Jimmie Blanton is in many ways the John Keats of jazz, the bassist, like the poet, a figure of imposing Romantic proportions.
   Along with his friend Ben Webster, Blanton’s name, of course, was lent to the most famous iteration of the Famous Orchestra: the celebrated Blanton-Webster band from the lustrous reputation and memory of which it could be argued, Ellington spent much of his subsequent career trying to escape.
   The arrival of both men within the ranks of the Ellington Orchestra helped both to streamline and to modernize Ellington’s music. Whilst Webster appeared with the Orchestra both before and after Blanton’s tenure with the band, he himself was gone (dismissed in a rare instance of Duke firing a musician) a little over eighteen months after Jimmie’s death. In conjunction, Blanton and Webster were the axis of the band, making the aggregation the sonic equivalent of a luxury Pullman, Webster’s tenor the velvet upholstery, sprung beautifully by Blanton’s innovative rhythm.
   Mainly because of Barney Bigard’s reluctance to play the instrument, the tenor saxophone had been largely absent from the tonal palette of Ellington’s 
music throughout the thirties. The instrument became, perhaps, the defining symbol of the jazz musician throughout the so-called Swing Era and beyond into the era of ‘Modern’ jazz, reaching its apotheosis within the Ellington Orchestra with Paul Gonsalves’ incendiary 27 choruses at Newport in 1956. Of the bass, well, it came to dominate popular music, of course, particularly in its electrically amplified form in rock music. In any of the numerous ‘best of’ and ‘most influential’ lists of bassists that litter the Internet, the name of Jimmie Blanton is always high on these lists.
   Beyond mastery of technique, a musician must have a story to tell and an original way of telling it. It is often said that through such profound resonance, Blanton achieved breathy ‘horn-like’ effects through his “pizzicato, arco and slapping techniques” and “articulation with the bow” (Rex Bozarth 1981, p. 41). J. Bradford Robinson at Grove Music Online, writes, moreover, of Blanton that “His strong feeling for harmony led him to incorporate many non-harmonic passing notes in his accompaniment lines, giving them a contrapuntal flavour and stimulating soloists to their own harmonic explorations.”
   Such an idiomatic approach to his work must, of course, have been (quite literally) music to the ears of Duke Ellington who listened for the ‘soul’ of a man in a way no other bandleader did and wove this call of the soul into the warp and woof his own rich sonic tapestries. There is plenty of evidence how much the young Blanton meant to Ellington, not least in incorporating the bassist’s work so conspicuously into such deathless compositions as Jack the Bear, Ko-Ko, Sepia Panorama(surely towards the top end of any top ten Ellington recordings an enthusiast would foist upon the neophyte in Ellington’s world). There was also the prominence Ellington gave to Jimmie’s sound in the ‘mix’ (in the days before such a technological process was possible) in the recording studio. Attendees at the recent Study Group Conference in Birmingham who were in the audience for Matthias Heyman’s presentation will have some thought-provoking insight already into this aspect of Ellington’s relationship with Blanton (I’m sure there is a paper to be written somewhere about Ellington the Record Producer). The precedent for the studio recordings was, of course, set by the Orchestra’s live appearances where Jimmie Blanton’s position was in front of the piano and close to the microphone. As Annie Kuebler says in her superb notes for the Storyville re-issue of the Fargo recordings, “What a show of confidence from Duke Ellington to this young man who brought about a ‘renaissance in bass playing’”(that last quotation from Annie, Duke’s own words).
   There were the recordings, too, however, as testimony of Ellington’s belief in his new instrumentalist. I have often wondered if the recording of Plucked Againwas not in some sense a response to Milt Hinton’s record with the Cab Calloway Orchestra of some three months earlier, Pluckin’ The Bass. The difference here is that whilst Hinton was recorded with the entire Calloway band, Plucked Again was the first of several duets with just Ellington on piano and his bassist, the pairing reaching its apotheosis with those sublime sides for RCA Victor in October 1940.
   It was just Blanton, too, whom Ellington took with him on the three occasions he appeared in guest spots on the series of Hollywood radio broadcasts for Kraft Music Hall, usually introduced by Bing Crosby. The orchestra spent much of 1941 in Los Angeles for the run of Jump For Joy, hence Duke’s frequent appearances on the programme. The opening number from the revue, Stomp Caprice, was performed during their appearance on the Kraft Music Hall on 29 May 1941, a collector’s item for sure since when the Orchestra recorded the full version at the end of November, Blanton’s illness prevented him from participating in the recording session. Crosby introduced the performance in his customary grandiloquent fashion:

   “Currently dividing his time between the Trianon Ballroom in Southgate and rehearsals for his promising musical revue Jump For Joy which will feature his talents both as actor and composer, the Duke whose prowess at a piano is practically legendary is at the moment prepared to regale us with a piano and bass treatment of a thing called Stomp Caprice, a jump written by the little Duke. That would be the Duke’s son, Mercer Kennedy Ellington. This is with the Duke the elder at the piano and James H. Blanton Jr, the Ellington aggregation’s maître d’ of the big bass d. Let’s do it, Duke…”

   The pair proceed to perform an elegant turn on the melody which illustrates perfectly the meeting of minds as the bassist begins a solo almost as an obbligato before shouldering the main responsibility for the improvisation, the piano player providing punctuation before bringing the melody home with a glittering glissando and a full stop which almost seems to anticipate the George Shearing sound.
   Blanton’s final appearance on The Kraft Music Hall Show, 9 October 1941, gives us also, at the time of writing, what is believed to be Jimmie Blanton’s final recording. His final recorded solo is a ruminative and affecting reflection on Flamingo, accompanied, ironically, not by Ellington but a flute and string chorus from the John Scott Trotter Orchestra. I do not think the performance has been released on either vinyl or CD, but visitors to Brian Koller’s Ellington discography can click the link on October 1941 and be taken to an mp3 recording of the entire show, hosted in Bing’s absence by Don Ameche.  
   The last word on Jimmie Blanton must be given to Annie Kuebler and, again, from her incomparable notes to the Storyville Fargo release. Annie wrote:
  “Jimmie Blanton's solos sing in a way unheard of before in jazz. By realizing the solo qualities of a double bass both in accompaniment and breaks, Blanton laid groundwork for all future bassists to follow, particularly in bebop, and cast out many lines for other instrumentalists as well. At twenty years of age, he was equally capable of contributing appropriate accompaniment for the band on the older pieces and standards as well. The roster of musicians whose lives were cut short by substance abuse is sad. The loss of Jimmie Blanton to tuberculosis in 1942 is tragic. He had already fulfilled his promise; who, on listening to the Fargo recording, doesn't stop to wonder where else he could have taken us?”
  One of the undoubted highlights of the Fargo recording is Ben Webster’s transcendent performance of Star Dust. This particular version, Annie’s notes tell us, was worked up by Webster and Jimmie Blanton who was his roommate when the band was on the road. Close bosom friends, often after hours Blanton and Webster would go from club to club, jamming. Blanton would work up a terrible sweat, put his overcoat on when the session was ended and leave the club with the coat hanging open, his shirt collar wide. 
   It is an affecting image of the artist careless of his own well-being but, as the poet has it, ‘for ever young…’ 







Saturday, 28 December 2019

War Clouds in My Heart

An extract from the epic Ken Burns documentary Jazz pertaining to Duke Ellington's European tour in Spring 1939 has recently been uploaded to Youtube. Here it is...


On the subject of the European tour, there is a very interesting article I have been meaning to post here for sometime so the publishing of the above clip seems the perfect time to do so. The opinions expressed below about a concert given by the Ellington aggregation in Holland are jaw-dropping in their indifference. Bliss, I should have thought in contrast, would it have been in that dawn to  be alive! 

Here is the article with the link to the original source below.


DUKE ELLINGTON IN HOLLAND - 1939
By Mark Berresford, based on research by Joop Gussenhoven

DukeHagueLoRes.jpg (37420 bytes)
Picture: Duke, Iriving Mills and the band on the platform at The Hague railway Station, April 10th 1939

The 1933 European tour by Duke Ellington and His Orchestra has been extensively documented over the years, as like Louis' tour of the same year, it was Europe's first opportunity to hear in the flesh one of the most influential musicians in jazz. Less well-documented is the Duke's European tour in the spring of 1939; that it happened at all in the light of the crisis in Europe at the time, with war clouds already gathering, is all the more remarkable. Through the research of Joop Gussenhoven and Ate van Delden, it is possible to piece together the band's itinerary, and also present an eye-witness account of their concert in the Hague. J.P. van Blarkom, who was the former president of the Dutch Jazz Liga attended the concert and wrote an extensive report, which we present here for the first time in 61 years. 

The Duke Ellington Orchestra, minus arranger Billy Strayhorn sailed from New York on Thursday 22nd March 1939, landing at Le Havre, France. On the 1st April Duke held a press conference in Paris and the next day he and the band travelled to Brussels and presented two concerts at the Palais des Beaux Arts. Returning to Paris on the 3rd April, they appeared later that day at a concert in the Theatre Nationale and repeated the performance on the following day. The band returned to Belgium to give two concerts in Antwerp on the 6th April, then on the 7th the band minus Duke travelled by train to Den Haag (The Hague), Ellington himself motoring there with Lennard Reuterskiold, who was managing the band's European tour.
There followed a hectic itinerary of three concerts in two days; the first on the evening of the 8th April in Den Haag. The next day the band travelled to Utrecht and gave a concert in the afternoon and later that day travelled to Amsterdam, where they gave a further concert. On the morning of the 10th April, a group of weary musicians, along with manager Irving Mills and their entourage made their way to Den Haag station to catch a train to Stockholm and to continue their lightning European tour. Fortunately for posterity an Ellington fan had taken his camera to the station to see the band off and the resulting photograph is reproduced herewith.

J.P. van Blarkom's account of the Den Haag concert makes interesting reading - although only 6 years had passed since the Duke's first European tour, the changes in the style and makeup of the band took van Blarkom and other members of the audience by surprise. The writer laments the passing of 'the old Duke' in forthright terms, even though the repertoire consisted of earlier Ellington standards. I have taken some liberties with the translation of van Blarkom's review to improve its flow and render it into better English, but the spirit of the original piece has been retained.

The Duke Ellington Concert, The Hague, 8th April 1939 

After a seven year wait, we once again have had an appearance by the famous Duke Ellington band. The concert was practically sold out in advance, and while the name of Ellington practically rules the world of jazz, whether he still deserves this fame is open to question. It was a great performance, but thinking it over later that night at home, I wonder if 'Mike' (Spike Hughes' nom-de-plume in the Melody Maker) was telling the truth some years ago about Ellington losing direction. 

Ellington had changed the stage layout of the band form his previous visit. Seven years ago the Duke sat centre stage; to his left sat the brass section, to his right the saxes and the rhythm section behind the Duke. This time the full band was seated in the middle of the stage, the Duke sitting to the left of the band and to his left Sonny Greer was seated with all his kettles and drums. Greer's drumming now sounded much too loud, sometimes even overdrumming instrumental solos. The bass stood between the saxes, who occupied the foreground, and the brass ranged in a row at the back. Fred Guy was seated at the extreme right. 

The personnel of the band was the same as seven years ago except for two new trumpeters, the famous Rex Stewart and a certain Mr. Wallace Jones, who we hardly heard during the the whole show. In place of Wellman Braud we had Billy Taylor, but due to his placement in the band it was rather difficult to get an idea of his playing. 

The band opened with East St. Louis Toodle-Oo, after which the Duke made his entrance to a tremendous ovation. After a short speech about being happy to be playing again in Holland, he announced the first number, Stompy Jones, which was played just as on the record. After that we got I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart, featuring a beautiful duet between Hodges and Carney. The next number was Caravan, a tune I personally never liked, that is until this evening. Juan Tizol took two choruses and as far as I remember this was the first time we heard Tizol on valve trombone. He had a beautiful tone which surprised and delighted the whole audience. Mood Indigo came next, starting with the trio, as on the record, but with Jones taking the place of Whetsol. After the first chorus the Duke took a long solo and then a rescoring featuring the whole band,which really spoiled the wonderful melody. Merry-go-round, played as the Columbia record was the next number, and was probably the best number of the whole evening. The brass chorus was superb! 

We were then treated to a new number The Lady in Doubt, in which Hodges got his first opportunity to shine, after which we got a totally new arrangement of Rockin' In Rhythm, into which was introduced Dallas Doings, featuring Rex Stewart. Barney Bigard took his bow with Clarinet Lament - what a tone! And what ideas - marvellous! Bigard was undoubtedly the star of the evening. Next it was Rex' turn to shine with Trumpet in Spades, which he played brilliantly and at a tempo which had to be heard to be believed. Sophisticated Lady was given as on the record, with a beautiful chorus by Lawrence Brown, but without Hardwicke - his wonderful solo on the record was now rewritten for the four saxes. Incidentally, we heard practically nothing of Hardwicke all evening. 

Show Boat Shuffle was played as the record and was followed by an old favourite of some years ago, Black and Tan Fantasy, but the old melodic power of this melancholy tune was lost in the new arrangement. It was now a concerto for Cootie, Tricky Sam and Bigard, who each got a chorus to shine, bound together by Duke's piano playing. However the whole concept of the tune was lost - what a pity. At this point there was an intermission which concluded the first part of the concert. 

Summing up, there were indeed some great moments, but in the old days Ellington played jazz, real and pure jazz. Now he was playing show jazz, good show jazz at that, but something was missing. The Duke had become fat and Ivie Anderson had become old. Even the Duke himself must have realised this change, for as he explained in an interview "Jazz is music, Swing is business." He is touring with Irving Mills, who was at the concert, and I feel that with Mr. Mills business comes first, so the Duke couldn't play jazz. We will probably never know the real reason. 

After the interval Ivie Anderson came on and sang Alexander's Ragtime Band, Solitude and It Don't Mean A Thing, the latter tune giving us something of the old Ivie. We were lucky to have another number by Ivie, I think The Scronch, but I'm not absolutely sure, as it was a new number and was unannounced. Cootie then got his chance in Echoes of Harlem, after which the Duke announced that the band would now give an impression of a jam session, with two small groups, one led by Bigard and the other by Hodges. It sounded nice, but we have always had other ideas about jam sessions. These two tunes were played by Bigard, Rex and Tizol with rhythm in one group and Hodges, Brown, Cootie, Carney and rhythm in the other. 

Now we got a new composition by Juan Tizol. I don't know know its name, but it really was a big surprise to us all. The first two choruses were played by Tizol (really wonderful) and the Duke, but not on the piano as one would expect, but on a tom-tom. He played them with both hands and got a very astonishing Bolero-effect. Hodges played a nice soprano sax chorus and the tune ended as it started, with Tizol and the Duke. The evergreen Tiger Rag appeared to end the concert - we heard a great chorus from the three trombonists, plus Hodges, Brown, Bigard, Red, the Duke and Cootie. Then without a word, the Duke left the stage and the concert seemed to be over. However, after a few moments he returned and we got as an encore one of his latest compositions, Swamp Swing, which funnily enough was the best tune of the evening. The concert finished with St. Louis Blues, in which we heard Cootie, the three trombones again, Bigard (and how!), Hodges on soprano sax, Tricky Sam and a brass chorus, finishing with a quote from Rhapsody In Blue

Overall it was a great concert, but we who belong to the old guard were rather disappointed. All the great old tunes were rescored, and in my opinion not too successfully. The old power of the band was lost and the Duke was really playing to the house. The soloists were all great, but the Duke, who in the early days wrote for the whole band as one man, now was writing for each member of the band individually. The younger generation were wild with excitement, but they had not heard the old Duke in 1933. The audience was still laughing at Tricky Sam's chorus on Black and Tan Fantasy, so after all these years they still haven't learned to feel the Ellington spirit.
Source

The incident related in the Burns documentary I always thought would have been the basis of a great film à la Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes. Mick Carlon got there first, however, telling the story of the ride through Nazi Germany in his book Riding on Duke's Train.


Friday, 27 December 2019

Vive la New Year Revolution

From La Maison du Duke, news of a new concert presentation by The Duke Orchestra under the direction of Laurent Mignard....



Parce que sans les femmes le jazz ne saurait exister, qu’elles soient muses ou artistes, Laurent Mignard Duke Orchestra met à l‘honneur la gent féminine dans un programme thématique porté par les jazzwomen de l’orchestre et des artistes invitées aux profils contrastés.  
 Une première rencontre se tiendra le jeudi 23 janvier à 21h au Jazz Café Montparnasse.
DUKE LADIES
                                Aurélie Tropez (clarinette)                               Julie Saury (batterie)
                                Myra Maud (vocal)                                           Sylvia Howard (vocal)
                                Rachelle Plas (harmonica)                             Aurore Voilqué (violon)
accompagnées par Didier Desbois, Fred Couderc, Olivier Defays, Philippe Chagne, Julien Ecrepont, Gilles Relisieux, Jérôme Etcheberry, Richard Blanchet, Nicolas Grymonprez, Michaël Ballue, Jerry Edwards, Philippe Milanta, Bruno Rousselet, Laurent Mignard.
en préparation de l’album « Duke Ladies » – label Juste une Trace.
Jazz Café Montparnasse
13 rue du Commandant Mouchotte 75014 PARIS
Formules Dîner-Concert – Tel : 01 43 21 58 89
infos et réservations

Significantly, the concert will provide the basis for a new CD, Duke Ladies, so even for those of us unable to attend the concert, a chance to hear the programme as presented.
Bonne Année!


Saturday, 14 December 2019

Rabbit Redux



Reviews for Con Chapman's Rabbit's Blues - The Life and Music of Johnny Hodges continue to appear. Here is one of the latest by Graham Colombé, a writer for whose opinions I have the greatest respect. The source for this review is Jazz Journal UK.

Rabbit’s Blues – The Life And Music Of Johnny Hodges

By
 Graham Colombé
 - 



Johnny Hodges died in 1970, nearly half a century ago and it’s rather amazing that until now there has been no book devoted entirely to this remarkable musician whose significance in the history of jazz saxophone playing is so great. Here at last is the story of Hodges and I’m glad to say that I can welcome it wholeheartedly. To write a book worthy of such a subject two things were required: a deep and responsive understanding of the greatness of the artist and a willingness to undertake lengthy and detailed research into what could be learned now about a man who died so long ago.
…clear admiration of Hodges is complemented by impressively extensive research, demonstrated by a bibliography with almost 80 entries and unobtrusively numbered notes for references which total just under a thousand
Con Chapman’s appreciation of his subject can be sensed in the three chapters entitled “His Tone”, “The Quality Of Song” and “The Blues”. Here’s an example of his excellent prose: “Like the man playing the reed instrument in the jungle of Henri Rousseau’s painting The Dream, Hodges provided an erotic element to the dense vegetation of the Miley-Ellington sound”. Later, challenging accusations of sentimentality, he writes “Hodges was a dispassionate artist at his easel who expressed deeply felt emotions through the use of tone and colors, not flashy effects”. This clear admiration of Hodges is complemented by impressively extensive research, demonstrated by a bibliography with almost 80 entries and unobtrusively numbered notes for references which total just under a thousand. That might suggest a pedantically scholarly approach but nothing could be further from the truth. Although the book follows a broadly chronological outline, with many details of the early years which were new to me, there are welcome digressions in chapters headed “Women And Children”, “Food And Drink” and “The Coming Of Bird”. I had to look up “Lagomorphology”, a chapter on Hodges as man rather than musician, and found that it means the study of conies, hares and, of course, rabbits. (The Internet informs us that Mr. Chapman has produced plenty of humorous literature as well as writings on jazz.)
In covering the recorded legacy of Hodges the author has wisely given only selective attention to the recordings with Ellington, already written about extensively, and has concentrated more on the recordings which are, as he says, “outside the Ellington constellation” and which in later years offered significantly more of Hodges than could be heard on the Ellington releases. There’s far more in the book that’s worthy of appreciative comment than this review allows space for, but I should mention the 16 pages of photographs. These include Hodges in action as well as relaxing, a moving shot of his wife at his funeral and a mural showing Ellington with Hodges which is painted on the side of the house where the latter grew up. (I’ll also single out something of particular interest to myself. While considering Hodges as a person, the author examines what Hodges had in common with Lester Young, both as man and musician. This is a topic worth exploring and I would suggest that Young came musically closest to Hodges towards the end of his life, in particular on his floating tenor solos from the 1958 album called Laughin’ To Keep From Cryin’.)
Con Chapman didn’t write this book because Con is short for Cornelius – a name also given to Johnny Hodges at birth though soon dispensed with. But Con obviously has something far more significant than that in common with Johnny: a belief that if something’s worth doing it’s worth doing impeccably. And his commitment to producing a book worthy of his subject is clear on every page.
Rabbit’s Blues – The Life And Music Of Johnny Hodges. By Con Chapman, Oxford University Press, hb, 175pp, 47pp notes, bibliography and index, 16pp photographs. ISBN 978-0-19-065390-3.



Friday, 29 November 2019

For what we are about to receive...

I usually go through the Ellington listings on eBay with a fine tooth comb, so I don't know how I missed this treat earlier in the Autumn.

The listing is for a recording of a Duke Ellington performance on  16 April, 1970 at Grace Cathedral (the location for the première performance of the First Sacred Concert some five years earlier. Here are the details and photographs from the original ad...


Duke Ellington At Grace Cathedral 4/16/1970 Concert Series Part 1 Reel To Reel. Condition is Brand New in original box with original program.









By a remarkable act, appropriately enough, of grace itself the recording has been made available for free by the purchaser. Brian Koller runs the excellent website films graded.com, a substantial section of which is devoted to a discography of Ellington's collected works. Brian has graciously published a remastering of the tape.

The whole recording may be downloaded from Brian's filmsgraded.com site here

Post Script:

Several numbers feature Wild Bill Davis at the organ. An interesting account of how Davis came to be employed by Duke was posted recently to Facebook by Douglas Lawrence. Here is his posting, and an anecdote perhaps previously not known. Generosity all round from admirers of Ellington's music!

"I worked a lot with Wild Bill in the 1980's. This is what he told me - Wild Bill and Johnny Hodges were starting to tour together with a succesful 4-piece organ band (Hodges, Wild Bill, guitar and drums). The band was becoming quiet successful and Hodges started taking time off from the Ellington Orchestra. They were working somewhere (I can't remember where) and Ellington showed up at the gig and sat directly in front of the bandstand. After the performance Ellington joined Hodges and Wild Bill backstage in the dressing room. Ellington looked at Wild Bill and said (I'll never forget these words) "I don't know what I'm going to do with you, but I have to have Johnny back, so I'm hiring you too!" Wild Bill said that was it for the quartet! He joined Ellington's band and for most of the first several months just learned orchestration from Ellington, and worked as a copyist, no playing at all. (That in itself is another great story for perhaps another time.) I distinctly remem!
ber Wild Bill telling me his time with the Ellington Orchestra was the highlight of his illustrious career, and it involved very little playing. It was the tutelage from Ellington on big band arranging and composing that Wild Bill appreciated so much. Wild Bill loved to write for big band after that. It became his passion, although only a few of us actually knew it."