Sunday, 19 February 2017

Piano to the foreground

Previously unreleased music from the fingertips of Duke Ellington: An intimate 1972 session with the Duke on solo piano plus three bonus tracks from 1969.
The scene is 311 West 57 Street, New York, Mediasounds Studio A, Friday August 25th,1972. Duke Ellington was having an engagement with a smaller group at The Rainbow Grill, as he had had several times before, finishing the gig on the following night. But on the 25th, he chose also to go to the recording studio, just himself at the piano together with his two band singers Anita Moore and Tony Watkins, to record some pieces which were not played so often.
The recordings remained in his ”stockpile” until now, this being the first commercial issue of these beautiful pieces. The late Sjef Hoefsmit wrote about the session when he heard it back in 1994: ”It is difficult to understand why these magnificent recordings never have been issued”. Well, here they are at last – for all to enjoy!
Among the gems you'll find tracks such as two takes of the Billy Strayhorn composition “Lotus Blossom”, the Duke’s own “Le Sucrier Velours” and his emotional “My Mother, My Father and Love”. The latter was often performed with the Duke himself as a vocalist, reciting his own lyrics. No doubt the words meant a great deal to him, both personally and as part of his positive stories about the black communities in the USA.

The new CD contains three additional bonus tracks. On November 7th, 1969, Duke Ellington and his orchestra played two concerts in Rotterdam, in the famous De Doelen concert hall. The second concert of the evening was prolonged, as the public wouldn’t let Ellington go. So while the rest of the bandmembers left the stage, a quartet with Duke, Wild Bill Davis, bassist Victor Gaskin and drummer Rufus Jones stayed, and played four more numbers, much to the delight of the sold-out house. You can hear the whole band concert on the Storyville CD “Rotterdam 1969” (1018440), and here we offer the ”afterparty” music by the quartet.

And here are the discographical details:
25 August, 1972, New York City

Duke Ellington(p); Anita Moore, Tony Watkins(v)
I'm Afraid      
The Anticipation       
Le Sucrier Velour     
Le Sucrier Velour (2)           
Lotus Blossom           
A Blue Mural From Two Perspectives        
I'm Afraid - vAMo      unissued
I Didn't Know About You  
I Didn't Know About You (4)- vAMo          
I Didn't Know About You    
I Didn't Know About You - vAMo   
Add Aziz Latiffe(co)
Loco Madi      
Aziz Latiffe out
Lotus Blossom (6)    
New World A-Comin’
Le Sucrier Velour     
Single Petal Of A Rose          
The Blues Ain't         
The Blues Ain't - vTW          
My Mother, My Father And Love - vTW    
My Mother, My Father And Love    
The Blues Ain't         
Come Sunday (9) - vTW     
My Mother, My Father And Love (10) - vTW       
A Blue Mural From Two Perspectives        
My Little Brown Book
And the additional tracks from Rotterdam...
7 November, 1969, Rotterdam
Duke Ellington (p); Wild Bill Davis(o); Victor Gaskin(sb); 
Rufus Jones(d)
Black Swan    
The Lake       
Satin Doll  
Just Squeeze Me  


Tuesday, 14 February 2017

The Mercer Ellington Octet

Have these Ellingtonian recordings been released in any other form than original shellac, I wonder?

Friday, 13 January 2017

Mood Ellingtonia

Of course in the age of the CD... scratch that, I should say download, all of the tracks on these exquisite shellac sets are easily available. But these 78 sets are virtually pieces of furniture! Perhaps artists and their work were treasured rather more back in the day, when it was such a physical effort to 'load' one tune at a time and the music came packaged in such upholstery...

Sunday, 8 January 2017

The swing era...

Here's a young woman who takes 'swing' quite literally - Anny Duperey at the Gala de l'Union des Artistes, 1973 - the daring young woman on the flying trapeze accompanied by a  couple of Duke Ellington records...

Memphis Blues is likely a Billy Strayhorn arrangement - and worth seeking out along with other W C Handy compositions, St Louis Blues and Beale Street Blues recorded by the Orchestra in their final sessions with RCA during the late summer of 1946.

Esquire Swank is one of the very last tracks to be recorded for Ellington's mid-forties RCA contract. The very final track was Midriff by Billy Strayhorn. These two tunes constituted a single 78 record issued not by RCA but exclusively and appropriately enough only in Paris on the Swing label (photograph above). The two tracks were also omitted from the otherwise comprehensive French Intégrale series. As far as I'm aware the only issue of Esquire Swank and Midriff on vinyl was again only in France in their Treasury of Jazz series...

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

New Year, New Street

It is exciting to learn of a new orchestra playing Duke Ellington's music. News of concerts at The Town Hall, Birmingham and Southport Jazz Festival on 3rd and 5th February respectively, came with news that the Birmingham Conservatoire Ellington orchestra seems to be  a permanent fixture on the scene. From the Birmingham Conservatoire Magazine on Issu, we note:

"The Orchestra has been established to form an integral part of the Conservatoire's Jazz Department and to be a regular fixture in the Eastside Jazz Club of the new Conservatoire Building..." Great news!