Tuesday, 22 January 2019

À la recherche du temps Purdue

Happy New Year! Here is an item to celebrate an anniversary of some seventy years and a week.

In David Palmquist's exquisite website The Duke Where and When, his exhaustive itinerary says of 14 January, 1949, "activities not documented".

Well, if the eBay listing here is correct, we can now solve that mystery.

Of the items for sale, the vendor writes:

Duke Ellington Autographed Purdue University 1949 Dance Program

This is a lot of three (3) dance programs from the 1948-49 school year at Purdue University. The 1949 "Men of the Cary Club" annual dinner dance featured the music of Duke Ellington. His signature in ink is on the program. The other two programs featured a dinner dance with music by Griff Williams and his Orchestra, while the 1948 Junior Prom featured live music from Russ Morgan and his Orchestra along with Skitch Henderson and his Orchestra. Guests of Honor at the 1949 Junior Prom included President Harry S. Truman and his wife.
All 3 programs are in very good vintage. Each measures approximately 3-1/2 X 2-1/2 inches.

Duke Ellington and his Orchestra therefore played the men of Cary Club Annual Dinner dance, Purdue University 14 January, 1949.

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Conference, Birmingham: Review

A highlight of 2018 was The 25th International Duke Ellington Study Group Conference, Birmingham 2018, hosted by Birmingham City University and The Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. I received recently via their newsletter, this review from Lee Farley of The Duke Ellington Society, Southern California chapter.Lee graciously gave me permission to share his review here...

When I arrived at the 25th International Duke Ellington Study Group Conference in Birmingham, England, I had no idea that my wife and I would be two of very few representatives from the United States and the only ones from southern California. That was too bad for those who couldn’t make it, because the event was an outstanding gathering, full of information and great music and characterized by an informal and collegial atmosphere that belied the academic setting. Some of the most memorable parts of the conference were the three concerts, comprised of five sets, played by the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Ellington Orchestra, a student ensemble directed by Jeremy Price, Head of Jazz Studies at the Conservatoire and a co-organizer of the event.

The students played Ellington’s and Strayhorn’s compositions and arrangements with tremendous skill and enthusiasm, with polished ensembles that reflected hours ofrehearsals. And the repertoire wasn’t confined to Ellington’s greatest hits, but ratherincluded obscure and well-known pieces from all eras of the orchestra. I particularly enjoyed hearing Old King Dooji, a fine up-tempo and texturally interesting piece from 1938 that Ellington, for whatever reason, hardly ever played after its initial recording.

The two evening performances covered between them a wide range of compositions.The Friday concert’s first set was devoted to early Ellington (The 1920s, 30s, and veryearly 40s.) We heard Jack the BearKo-Ko, and Black and Tan Fantasy among many others. The second set comprised selections from a list of about 40 compositions as chosen byaudience members. Saturday’s concert included a set with compositions from both DukeEllington’s 195 repertoire and The Far East

Suite. Thus, we heard, among others, Flirtibird, Dual Fuel, Tourist Point of View and Blue Bird of Delhi.

These are not the typical titles of repertory jazz orchestras and reflect how deeply these students are immersed in Ellingtonia. The Sunday afternoon performance included audience choices as well. And somewhere during the very tight scheduling of the conference was a jam session, where attendees could play Ellington/Strayhorn compositions with the students. All the concerts were held in the Eastside Jazz Club, an acoustically well-designed performing venue that is

part of the fabulous new building housing the Conservatoire. The audience of Ellington fans rightly gave standing ovations to the students for their skillful performances and to Jeremy Price for his leadership in creating and directing the orchestra.

I was so enthralled by the music that I forgot to take pictures. I did manage to get one of the student orchestra outside the Conservatoire building. Jeremy Price is on the far left.
Lee Farley

Monday, 24 December 2018

Pilgrimage to Catalonia

A Christmas present courtesy of Duke Ellington Society of Sweden: film of Ellington's Third sacred Concert performed at Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar, 10 November, 1973. The full story of the concert is told here.

It occurs to me that Santa Maria del Mar is possibly the only place of worship to host two different Sacred concerts. Ellington appeared there four years earlier on 24 November, 1969 to perform his Second Sacred Concert. During that visit, he saw that one of the three kings pictured in a stained glass window was black and this became his inspiration for his final major work, Three Black Kings.

Here is the rarest of the three concerts of Ellington's Sacred music...

Friday, 21 December 2018

Advent of Coventry

Here is a round up of articles from the web re: the upcoming screening of Celebration in Coventry next Saturday, 29 December.

The photograph portrays Doctor Helen Wheatley of Warwick University, organiser of the event, with Brian Tesler, who commissioned the programme for broadcast on the ITV network. 

Celebration (tx. 21/2/66, ABC Television for ITV)
This newly restored recording of Celebration, the television programme of Duke Ellington’s 1966 performance in the Cathedral, will be the first public showing of Ellington’s performance in Coventry of the European premiere of his First Concert of Sacred Music since its original broadcast. This extraordinary conjunction of secular music in a sacred setting features a collaboration between the jazz legend and ABC’s Musical Director Robert Sharples, using ITV’s in-house singers the Cliff Adams Singers and the Jamaican baritone George Webb. In the half century since its broadcast, this landmark recording was presumed lost and forgotten in the history of jazz television. Following an approach to the Ghost Town project by jazz and TV historian Dr. Nicolas Pillai (Birmingham City University), the recording was ‘rediscovered’ in the Studiocanal archive and subsequent digital restoration by the archive television company Kaleidoscope with generous support from the University of Warwick offers us an unmissable opportunity to see Ellington play in Coventry once more. Interviewed about the Coventry concert, Ellington said in the TV Times, “It’s one of the most satisfying things I have ever done. And the most important.”
The screening will be introduced at the event by a specially recorded message from Brian Tesler who commissioned the programme for ABC Television. Tesler recalls the production of Celebration, and its reception, for us. 
With thanks to Nic Pillai (BCU, for bringing this programme to our attention), Kaleidoscope (for excellent detective and restoration work), Studiocanal (for access to the master tape), the Warwick Impact Fund (for financial support), and Brian Tesler (for the wonderful intro).

A FILM of jazz legend Duke Ellington’s concert at Coventry Cathedral has been found after being ‘lost’ for more than 50 years. 
The footage is unseen since its original broadcast in 1966 and Ellington himself described the performance as one of his most satisfying and important, the University of Warwick says. 
Fittingly the recording will receive its first public viewing in 52 years on December 29 at the cathedral. 
Ellington’s original performance was the European premiere of his first ‘Concert of Sacred Music’.
The university says it included a piece specially written for the concert, named ‘Come Easter’, which was only ever performed in Coventry that night.
Ellington said in a television interview: “It’s one of the most satisfying things I have ever done. And the most important.”
The performance was broadcast by ITV as part of their Easter programming, under the title Celebration.
The black and white recording has been digitally restored by archive television company Kaleidoscope with support from the University of Warwick.
The footage was found in the university’s StudioCanal archive. 
Dr Helen Wheatley, of the University of Warwick’s department of film and television studies, said: “It is wonderful to be able to bring this important broadcast ‘back home’ to Coventry, thanks to the combined efforts of colleagues at the StudioCanal and Kaleidoscope archives. 
“Ellington’s performance in Celebration is absolutely captivating.
“Coventry Cathedral has been an important site of arts and culture, as well as a significant place of worship, since its consecration in 1962. 
“Ellington chose Coventry Cathedral to perform in as a beacon of modernity in the post-war era, and artists today continue to be attracted to this wonderful building and the forward-thinking people that run it”.
This event is the fourth part of a series of university events or ‘hauntings’ in the ongoing project Ghost Town: Civic Television and the Haunting of Coventry (https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/film/ghosttown/). 
The project takes programmes made in and about the city out of the television archive and re-screens them around the city in expected and unexpected places, the university says. 
Tickets are available here: www.universe.com/events/ghost-town-cathedral-of-culture-tickets-8DH9QM

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

2020 Vision

Save the Date...
International Duke Ellington Conference

Mapping Duke Ellington's World.

Georgetown University, Washington DC
Wednesday 11 March to Sunday 15 March, 2020
Call for Papers: February 2019

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Raiders of the Lost Archive

WEDNESDAY 5 December 2018


Birmingham City University now hosts a satellite archive of the National Jazz Archive (NJA). 

The British Institute of Jazz Studies collection has recently arrived at Birmingham City University as a satellite of the National Jazz Archive. This collection includes an extensive number of foreign language magazines and books. This will be complemented in the following years by additional UK focused materials and jazz ephemera.

“The partnership between Birmingham City University and the National Jazz Archive is an important new initiative that seeks to stimulate debate about the history and significance of jazz in the UK and beyond. Through exhibitions, performances, talks and workshops, our aim is to create a vibrant, living archive known for innovative research and outreach programmes that are uniquely anchored in the wider community."
Professor Nick Gebhardt, Director of the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research (BCMCR)

“Birmingham with its strong jazz scene and the keen interest in jazz research seems to be a natural home for the National Jazz Archive. I really welcome its arrival.”
Tony Dudley-Evans, Programme Advisor, Jazzline Programme at Town Hall Symphony Hall

The Birmingham City University satellite collection is housed in the Arts, Design & Media archives at Parkside Building. This collection is available to all through appointment with the Keeper of the Archives, Dr Pedro Cravinho.
This year represents a significant milestone for the National Jazz Archive as it celebrates thirty years of activity. The NJA holds the UK’s finest collection of written, printed and visual material on jazz, blues and related music, from the 1920s to the present day. Since the NJA was established in 1988, its vision has been to ensure that the rich cultural heritage of jazz is safeguarded for the future generations.

This year also represents the beginning of a partnership between Birmingham City University and the NJA towards the establishment of an NJA’s satellite-based at the University’s Arts, Design and Media Archives located in its Parkside Building, where the first archival materials have already arrived.

Both achievements provide us with a great opportunity to recognise, appreciate and celebrate these milestones through an exhibition, displaying examples of a significant and exciting jazz magazine   collection, published in a multiplicity of different countries and representing a distinct and vibrant jazz diaspora culture during the twentieth century.
The archive includes a diversity of foreign-language jazz and blues-related magazines from across the world, to include:
Jazz Podium (Germany), Musica Jazz (Italy), Jazz Bladet (Norway), Jazz Forum (Poland), Jazz ‘n’ More (Switzerland), Jazznytt (Sweden), Quartica Jazz (Spain), Hot Jazz Club (Argentina), Jazz Live (Austria), Jazz (Belgium), Jazz Bulletin (Czech Republic), Jazz Revy (Denmark), Rytmi (Finland), Jazz Nu (Netherlands), Melody Maker (UK), Australian Jazz Quarterly (Australia), Coda (Canada).
These materials are available to all through appointment with the Keeper of the Archives, Dr. Pedro Cravinho at ADM-Archives-Request@bcu.ac.uk
“This archive is an invaluable resource, providing researchers with material evidence of how jazz has been historically represented in the media.”
Trish Clowes, London-based saxophonist & composer, BASCA British Composer Award winner & former BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist

“The National Jazz Archive at Birmingham City University holds much of interest for the typographically curious. This wide collection of printed ephemera forms a microcosm of changing graphic styles from across the eras and around the world. It presents an exciting opportunity to examine the typographic language of Jazz and how this particular genre has developed a visual dialect as vibrant and innovative as the music itself.”
Professor Caroline Archer- Parre, Director of the Centre for Printing History and Culture, Birmingham City University

“There are plenty of visual treats to inspire and intrigue within this collection. Anyone who has seen the album designs that Reid Miles did for Blue Note will appreciate the powerful relationship between type, image and music that is a hallmark of jazz. To see this strong link expressed with such diversity in these publications from around the world, is of significant interest to researchers and practitioners alike.”
Nathan Tromans, Head of School Visual Communications, Birmingham City University

A curated snapshot of the recently arrived archive was on display at Birmingham City University’s Parkside Building for students, members of staff and the general public during November. This represents the beginning of a series of associated events, which will be advertised through the Jazz Research BCU social media channels.