Thursday, 15 April 2010

Such stuff...

For our celebrations of the Stratford Shakespearean Festival of 1956, I thought I would post some images from the scrapbook Miss Barbara Reid kept during the years she was associated with the Ellington in her capacity as music promoter.

When the scrapbook was put up for sale last year, its contents were described thus:

“The scrapbook comes from the estate of a Miss Barbara Reid from Stratford, Ontario, Canada. The history on Miss Reid is that she was a trained pianist as a young woman who went on to work for the Stratford Shakesperean Festival. The only reference I could get to her exact job was one that referred to her as responsible for music promotion at the festival. She worked there during the 1950's. She had direct contact with Duke Ellington and his management. The time period of the scrapbook is roughly 1956 - 1963. The scrapbook is 11 1/4" wide by 16" tall (28.5 cm by 40.5cm). It has a brown cover and manilla coloured pages. The pages are numbered 1 - 81. Pages 13/14 and 61/62 are missing. The overall condition of the scrapbook is very good with only a couple minor page rips. The covers of the scrapbook have curled corners (minor). Some of the memorabilia is loose from the album and lots are glued, stapled into the album. Not every page has something on it - the odd numbers are full and some of the even numbers.

“The connection between Miss Reid and Duke Ellington was a professional one. The Stratford Festival commissioned Duke Ellington (and his co-writer Billy Strayhorn) to compose a new score for the Festival. They came up with 'Such Sweet Thunder'. This was a big hit for Duke Ellington and he even played in the late 50's in England for the Queen. This commission led to a long relationship between the Festival and Duke.

“THE STUFF - Start off with picture #1 - An original 3" by 5" postcard photo of Duke Ellington signed 'Best Wishes Duke Ellington'. I have no reason to believe that this is anything but original. With the personal relationship Miss Reid had with Duke Ellington, I would assume she got it from him. The scrapbook has been in storage for 15 years, so that eliminates any digital highjinks. If you are not happy with it - RETURN IT - NO PROBLEM. This picture is not glued into the album.

“The scrapbook is in chronological order. Page 3 is a glued down playbill of the Festival from July 20, 1956 (pictures #10 and #11) which featured Duke and his Orchestra. Page 5 is a glued in Time Magazine (Canada Edition) with Duke on the cover and an article in the magazine. Also on page 7 is a cover shot of Duke on Down Beat magazine from Dec 26, 1956.

Page #9 - This is a glued in - fold out. It is a Merry Christmas / Happy New Year message from Duke Ellington. I can only assume these were mailed out to people. This one measures 16" by 21". The message reads - ' Music is the tonal reflection of Beauty .. and yours is such a lovely melody'. There are in total five of these different Xmas / New Years messages. Picture # 9 shows one that is glued onto page 55 and reads 'Love you, love you, love you madly Bonne Noel et Joyeux Annee'. A picture of the Effiel Tower holds a sign that says 'Duke Ellington'. This was obviously sent while he was in Paris?? Two of these messages are not glued into the scrapbook. Some show tape marks and there is a small ripped corner on the Paris one. Page 11 contains Picture #8. It is a hand drawn cartoon that says ' But Miss Reid - those jazz persons are so uncouth!'. This cartoon is not signed.

“In 1957 - Sunday Evening - April 28 - at The Town Hall in New York City, Duke Ellington premiered his Stratford Festival hit 'Such Sweet Thunder'. Included in the scrapbook are the playbill for that night - glued onto page 21. Miss Reid was in New York City for that performance and was out on the town while there. On page 18, you can see a brochure for BIRDLAND with reference to Duke on the cover and inside pictures. Check out Picture #5 for this brochure. While in New York, Miss Reid went out to the Park Sheraton Hotel to see Duke perform after his debut at the Town Hall. Picture #2 shows her sitting at the piano with Duke. This is on page 37 and is stapled/glued down. Two other 8" by 10" black and white photos of Duke sitting at a table with Miss Reid and two others are loose in the scrapbook. The photos have a credit on the back to Bill Mark - Park Sheraton Hotel and reference numbers (to the negatives??). Pages 18 to 39 are full of newspaper articles and clippings referring to her time in New York and Duke.

“Page 41 has two black and white 8" by 10" photos stapled/glued in. They are of Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn and another man. You can see one of these in Picture #3. Picture #4 is on page 43 and is of Duke Ellington sitting while an artist/sculptor does a bust of Duke. I don't know what this was for.

“Page 51 has a letter from John Celley?? to Miss Reid detailing set-ups for Duke and his band and asking her to detail room arrangements for them. On page 48 are three of these hand drawn band set-ups. They can be seen in Picture #6 and #7.

“Pages 55 and 57 are newspaper slippings relating to Duke Ellingtons trip to England in late 1958 to see the Queen.

“There is a telegram to Miss Reid from Mary?? on page 59. The telegram was sent from Stratford to Hotel Anderson in Ishpeming, Michigan. It says ' Entire program thrown out please try to get Jimmy Stewart to play Lear and Duke for Puck in Mid Summer Nights Dream Hitchcock already signed to direct Love. It is dated May 12/59. The telegram is picture #12.

“Throughout the scrapbook are many glued in playbills like the one on page 63. It is from October 1959 - Berliner Festwochen (Festival??). The title is 'William Shakespeare Duke Ellington Such Sweet Thunder'. There are many other articles relating to Duke Ellington and his time in the 1950's and early 1960's. Page 81 is a press release from the Stratford Shakespearean Festival, dated Feb 4/63. It is about Duke agreeing to compose the score for 'Timon of Athens' one of four plays offered that summer during the Festival's 11th season.

“There are also two 8" by 10" black and white photos of Duke Ellington - the kind given out (press, ..). They are not glued in, but one has a sticker obscuring the bottom corner. There are three booklets from the 1987, 1989 and 1990 International Conferences of the Duke Ellington Study Group. 1987 - Inn on the Park - Toronto. 1989 - Mayflower Hotel - Washington DC and 1990 - Ottawa - Chateau Laurier.

“Wilbur de Paris is featured on page 77 and 78. There is a postcard written to Miss Reid from Wilbur when he was in Africa on tour. It is signed by him. There is also a 8" by 10" black and white stapled to page 78 of Wilbur and group at the airport in Addis Ababa - Ethiopia. They were on a special tour arranged by the President's Special International Program for Cultural Presentation. This was in May of 1957.”

For our final post on this Stratford season, I am waiting for a compact disc of the music played by Wilbur de Paris. More as soon as we have it…

No comments:

Post a Comment