Tuesday, 30 April 2013

First Footage

Whilst our previous post was given over to our customary picture of Duke celebrating his birthday, today we can give proper space to the news which broke yesterday of  Ellington scholar Ken Steiner's discovery of Duke Ellington's debut on film. The full details are here.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Kinda Dukish

On the eve of Duke Ellington's 114th birthday, a heads up to Ehsan Koshbakht's fascinating blog, Take The A Train

Ehsan is a film historian, jazz scholar and architect from north eastern Iran. He has been a great supporter of my blog here, through all its various and frustrating permutations of name and domain address (I recently moved the blog back to its original address, villesville.blog.co.uk - sorry Ehsan!).

Ehsan blogs on a wide range of subjects connected to jazz and film. Now, however, he has tabulated all the posts relevant to Duke. Click on the tab at the top of his blog, Kinda Dukish. I've put the link at the top of my blog here also. There is a rich archive of material to enjoy and, of course, it is always well worth dropping by Take The A Train itself.

As Duke would say: Thank you for Ehsan Koshbakht!

Friday, 19 April 2013

Miro Image

When Miró met the Duke: Jazz Performance from Yorkshire Sculpture Park on Vimeo.

You Shall Go To The Bal...

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
       We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
       We wear the mask!

Paul Laurence Dunbar, 1895

More on Terry Teachout's forthcoming biography Duke to follow...

Monday, 15 April 2013

Duke Ellington Opens Up The Cave Again...

To be released on CD June 18, 2013: Duke Ellington Live At The Cave

Back in the day, the recordings which comprised this release were released on two green vinyl bootleg LPs with the title Duke Ellington Opens Up The Cave. The sound quality was execrable. This new release is on the 'Squatty Roo' label. Given the date on which these recordings were made, they are certainly not yet out of copyright. Will this be a legitimate release, then? And will the sound quality, therefore, be improved? Time will tell.

The product description on Amazon reads:

Back in 1970, Duke Ellington was at the threshold of a new sound. Yet again like so many times before, he was to take in his surroundings, musically and otherwise, and bring forth a new style for his musical instrument, his Famous Orchestra. Billy Strayhorn, his writing and arranging companion was now dead, and the bulk of the writing was once again falling on Ellington's shoulders. Hammond Organ pioneer Wild Bill Davis took up some of the slack, as he became Duke's assistant arranger, but Ellington seems to know at this point, that pushing his own limits was needed. This outing documents the final days of star saxophonist Johnny Hodges. The setting is the Cave Theatre Restaurant in Vancouver, B.C. in Canada, and the feeling is warm and intimate, but there is a decided edge to the feel of the music. The exotic power of drummer Rufus Jones is making a mark, and Ellington is about to bring us on his final journey through 'The Jungle' once again.

The title may be pre-ordered here.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Esquire Jazz Concert 1946

The Curse of the Completist strikes again! I bought the LP Hooray for Esquire Jazz Concert this morning from a certain Internet auction house. Most Ellington collectors will be aware of the Esquire Jazz Concert in which Ellington participated in 1945 with, amongst others, Louis Armstrong. Existence of the 1946 concert was news to me. The concert was broadcast from The Ritz Theatre, New York City on Wednesday, 16 January.

From the ever reliable Ellingtonia, the details are:

Shelton Hemphill, Taft Jordan, Cat Anderson, Francis Williams, Bernard Flood(t); Lawrence Brown, Wilbur De Paris, Claude Jones(tb); Jimmy
Hamilton(cl,ts); Otto Hardwicke(cl,as); Johnny Hodges(as); Al Sears(ts); Harry Carney(cl,as,bar); Duke Ellington(p); Fred Guy(g);
Oscar Pettiford(sb); Sonny Greer(d,ch)


Take The "A" Train (theme)

Take The "A" Train
Sdi 125

Honeysuckle Rose
Sdi 125

Sdi 125

Esquire Swank
VD 617, Sdi 125

Add Francis Wayne(v)


I'm Checking Out Goombye - vFWa
Sdi 125
You can see an advertisement for the concert in Google Books here.

And here is the complete concert.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington

Terry Teachout's biography Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington is to be published by Gotham Books on 17 October, 2013.

I have reserved my copy already. Details of pre-ordering can be found here.

On his Artsjournal blog About Last Night, Mr Teachout today   reported on the book's progress to publication. If you click on the page link Duke: A Life... above, this will take you through directly to the relevant blog entry. I shall keep a permanent link up to publication of the book and beyond. Further dispatches as we receive them...

Sunday, 7 April 2013

French Without Tears

An age ago, I read a listing on Ebay for a 78 of Duke Ellington’s Chloe. The vendor mentioned the French writer Boris Vian, a name then new to me. The reference began a literary trail which led to Paris on the eve of the Second World War and the works of a singer, trumpet player and writer who was a great admirer of jazz in general and Duke Ellington in particular.

So enraptured by Ellington’s music was the writer that  the heroine of his most famousnovel, L'écume des jours is named for Ellington’s recording.

Michelle Léglise-Vian, Boris Vian and Duke Ellington
Released on 24 April, 2013 is a new film version of L'écume des jours, directed by Michel Gondry. In the USA, the novel was re-titled Mood Indigo and with Take the 'A' Train featuring on the soundtrack in the promotional trailer posted here, we can hope for many Ducal references in the movie.

For more on Boris Vian, his official site can be found here. For a superb blog run by the publishers of Vian’s work in English, check out the references to Ellington in the postings here.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

The Librarian Suite

The University of Boulder, Colorado, is where Glenn Miller studied and met his wife to be, Helen Burger.  The University now houses the Glenn Miller Archive. A little over twelve months ago, the Archive at the American Research Center, University of Colorado acquired the Ed Burke Collection. You can read about the collection here.

 Ed Burke’s is a familiar name to collectors of music from the swing era, that glorious period when jazz and popular song were synonymous and, for the casual listener, the era with which Duke Ellington’s music is most closely associated.

Ed Burke’s Ellington collection comprises, apparently, quite a significant tranche of his entire holdings. Borrowing original transcription discs from radio stations, Burke transferred them meticulously to reel-to-reel tape and issued many air shots on his own Soundcraft and Jazz Hour labels.

Click on the link below, and this will take you to the page where two Ellington recordings can be heard as MP3 files. Just A Settin’ And A Rockin’ and Clementine were recorded at the Zanzibar Club in October, 1945. You can listen to the two tracks here.