Here is something very special... a complete telecast from 1968 starring Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington.
... and here is some fascinating information about the music for the programme from the International Duke Ellington Music Society Bulletin, 2000/3:
Did Duke ever play Lush Life?
In a message to Annie Kuebler, Louis Tavecchio wrote: As for Duke's comp work, here are two cases in point, which very much substantiate your appraisal. One is Duke's fabulous playing behind Milt Grayson singing The Blues(The Great Paris Concert, Feb63). The other is his masterful accompaniment to Ella Fitzgerald singing Strayhorn's Lush Life. I saw and heard this in a documentary devoted to Ella. As a matter of fact, it's the only time I heard Duke playing this number. But what a performance it was!
Duke often stated that he never played Lush Life. I still believe him. If you think of the performance in the show titled "The Magic Of Ella Fitzgerald" (Apr68) you may be wrong. If you watch carefully you can see that Duke is not playing the music that you hear. Nowadays we call this playback. I am not convinced that the piano player you hear is Duke.
A very interesting observation, Sjef! I'm going to consult with a few musician friends and learn what they have to say about it What is the opinion of other LYM-ers who have seen Ella performing Lush Life accompanied by (a 'miming'??) Duke?
It has taken some time to answer the question, but my 'musician friends' and I do agree with you that Duke is play backing or miming during Ella's rendition of the song. At the same time, however, we are convinced that he is miming a recording of Lush Life played by himself!! There are many stylistic turns and peculiarities that are truly Ellingtonian. Itremainspuzzling why he would do such a thing, though.
Who knows the answer to this fascinating enigma?
It has also taken me some time before I could sit down and watch the show again. I do not have the answer to the question, why Ellington did playback his performance ofLush Life other than that he did not play it in the first place.
I have another question though. We can agree I hope that almost the whole show was played back. It is obvious inThings Ain't What They Used To Be and it is proven by the presence of a tape in the Danish collection. The tape-box is marked "Ella Fitzgerald Show","Playback for Ella Fitzgerald?" and on the tape is the music without vocal of the songsSweet Georgia Brown, Lover Man and Mack The Knife.
There are two selections in the show where I have doubts. These are Don't Get Around Much Anymore and
Oh! Lady Be Good, sandwiching Lush Life, which is the subject of this discussion. I believe that Duke played these 2 selections during the shooting of the film. This part of the programme is the only part where there are mikes in front of the bassist and the drummer. (There is constantly a mike on the white piano.) This is my question: if Duke played back all three numbers, why did he do such a poor job with
Lush Life while showing himself to be an expert in miming his own playing on Don't Get Around Much Anymore andOh! Lady Be Good? If, as I believe, he played both numbers (one and three) during the shooting, why would he have played back his rendition of Lush Life? I believe that Jimmy Jones played Lush Life. If it was recorded duringfilming,he could have used the black piano we saw earlier in the show.
I am veryreluctantto use arguments based on taste instead on facts. I also like the piano part of Lush Life very much, but Jimmy Jones was a heck of a piano-player himself. It does not sound like Duke to me.
After I saw the picture again, I wondered why the New DESOR accepted only those selections where Duke is visible on screen. The whole show is played by the Ellington orchestra, sometimes with and sometimes without a group of 6 violins, a harpist and a second percussionist. I also hear sometimes an invisible guitar.
Why is the sequence of the selections in session 6818 (8-1 lApr68) in the New DESOR on page 496 different from the final show?Sjef Hoefsmit