Sunday, 3 July 2016

All About Ronnie's


Details here.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Drum Again...

I am republishing a post on Ellington's A Drum Is A Woman from September 2009 thanks to the great generosity of a friend of this blog who posts regular Ellington videos on Youtube under the name Reminiscing in Tempo.

Seeing that the original link to Life's photographs of the TV production of A Drum is a Woman had perished, our benefactor provided a link to his own Facebook page with over 140 images from the production. Thank you so much! Follow the new link here, then, in this reposted form to access this cache of wonderful images...

A member of the Duke-LYM mailing list recently posted a link to a splendid cache of photographs capturing the telecast of Duke Ellington’s A Drum is a Woman.

Kinescopes of the original broadcast survive, I believe. Short of viewing these recordings – well, these photographs, taken by Thomas Mcavoy for Life magazine, give some idea of the visuals that went with the music.

Until I saw these images, it had never quite struck me before how A Drum is a Woman must owe its lineage to those days and nights the Ellington Orchestra had been the ‘house band’ at The Cotton Club. What we have here, essentially, is a floor show - the floor, in this case, being that of a television studio.

Although one or two aspects of the lyrics may set the nerves of a modern sensibility jangling like a shop bell, the music – interwoven with Ellington’s witty, urbane narrative – is sublime.
The album has never been released on compact disc in the USA. Frustratingly two CDs worth of material (and in stereo, if memory serves) were prepared by Phil Schaap – and even assigned an issue number – ten years ago for release as part of the celebrations for Ellington’s centennial. For some reason, the release never saw the light of day. The album has been re-issued recently on CD in Europe where its copyright has lapsed but struck not, of course, from the master tapes. These beautiful prints may rekindle some interest in the project – as part of a Mosaic re-issue, perhaps?

The photographs may be viewed here...

Sunday, 12 June 2016

The spirit is willing...

Music Review: Jörn Marcussen-Wulf – ‘Duke Ellington Sacred Concerts’

As often as not when talking about the crossroads of jazz and spirituality, the music very often mentioned is something like John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme or Duke Ellington’s three sacred concerts. And deservedly so, both Coltrane and Ellington were committed to the exploration of the spiritual possibilities of jazz, and nowhere is that passion more explicitly front and center than in those iconic works. So when new opportunities to reinvigorate these works of commitment become available attention should be paid.
cover340x340The release of Duke Ellington Sacred Concerts, a live recording of selections from the first and second of the three Ellington concerts in May, provides just such an opportunity. The concerts were recorded in Lüneburg, Germany in September 2015. They feature the excellent 60-voiced Junges Vokalensemble Hannover (under the direction of Klaus-Jürgen Etzold), vocal soloists Claudia Burghard and Joachim Rust, and the Fette Hupe Big Band (directed by Jörn Marcussen-Wulf, who also served as artistic director of the project).
The album opens with a 16-minute version of “In the Beginning God,” a kind of introduction allowing all of the participants to share a piece of the spotlight—soloists from the big band leading to the vocal soloists and the chorus. Other pieces from the 1965 concert include “Come Sunday,” which the composer borrowed from his Black, Brown and Beige suite. Here it’s a highlight for Claudia Burghard. “David Danced” has saxophonist Felix Petry doing the tap dancing handled by Bunny Briggs on the original. “Ain’t But the One” adds some up-tempo gospel flavor with Joachim Rust up front.
“Will You Be There” is a short piece for the choir and Gary Winters big band trumpeter who does all the spoken word work on the album. They also work together on an angelic “Father Forgive” from the 1968 concert. Winters, by the way, plays some hot trumpet on a lowdown version of “The Shepherd.” They close with a rousing long form take on “It’s Freedom.” By the way, this last and the opener, “In the Beginning God,” only seem to be available on the album.