Thursday, 30 May 2013

Murder At The Vanities

Here is a luminous transfer of Duke Ellington's appearance in Murder At The Vanities:

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Rabbit's Horn

The alto saxophone of Johnny Hodges is being auctioned presently on a certain Internet site. The vendor is Michelle Dodgion, the daughter of  saxophonist Jerry Dodgion, selling the saxophone on behalf of Frank Wess.

Michelle Dodgion writes:

I am extremely proud to offer Johnny Hodges's personal alto saxophone, owned and played by the jazz giant during his stellar career with The Duke Ellington Jazz Orchestra.
I know some of you will ask, so let me be very clear.

Yes, this is THE alto saxophone he played !!

It is currently owned and played by another jazz great Frank Wess who acquired it from Johnny Hodges's estate.
The horn has been lovingly cared for, professionally maintained and kept in perfect playable condition by Tomoji Hirakata in NYC.

I assume the horn was made and engraved by Beaugnier (France) and then, maybe assembled in the US circa early 60s.
The key system you can call “Leblanc Rationale” System.

The Hodges horn is a Leblanc Rationale with the Vito name on it. The Vito model had all adjustments by cork; the Leblanc had the fancy set screws and small nuts throughout for registration. The Rationale system was described as "The Boehm system for sax". The design was by Hovenhaghel in the 1930's but never caught on. It allows many alternate fingerings. Do doubt something Johnny Hodges  was keen to make good use of.

It is silver plating over the brass.
I found one tone hole that does not have coating on and it has green stuff. (it’s clean now)
This green stuff is a byproduct of prolonged human contact on untreated brass.
As you can see in the photos it has been cleaned and restored.

Brass can be : Yellow brass 70%copper, 30% zinc
Red Brass 85% copper, 15% zinc.
And Nickel Silver 67%copper, 18%nickel, 15%zinc.

Please view the photos and you will see this horn has been meticulously maintained and is not just a flawless musical instrument but it is also a work of art. The diamond chips used for the snake eyes are real.  

You can also view the YouTube video where you can hear Frank Wess speak a little about the horn while you see how well it has been cared for.

The white mouthpiece with Johnny Hodges's name etched on the side in included in this sale, as is the case. It is the original Leblanc case.

Who am "I" ??

I am Michelle Dodgion. The youngest daughter of saxophonist Jerry Dodgion.
I got my start as an Ebay trading assistant helping out my dad by selling some of his saxophones,
mouthpieces, etc on Ebay.
One thing led to another and now I do this for many of my, and my dads friends. 
Frank Wess is one of our most favorite people on earth !  :)
And Johnny Hodges was one of my dad's and Frank's greatest influences.
It is my great honor and pleasure to assist Frank with this sale.

This saxophone represents a legacy, a love, and a respect for some of the greatest music ever played in human history.

It is my wish and intension that the person who purchases this legendary instrument continues this tradition.

With a starting bid of $150 000 (Buy it now for $200 000) it will have a rarified clientele. We can always, however, look at the pictures. You can follow the progress of the auction here.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Troubled Waters

There isn't space here to rehearse the reasons why one of the musical geniuses of the last century and his Famous Orchestra found themselves accompanying Billy Rose's Aquacade, but this particular 'gig' in 1955 has always held a fascination for me. It is generally held to have been  a difficult period for Duke Ellington artistically and this particular engagement, the nadir.

Nevertheless, a programme from the engagement turned up today on Ebay USA. Had the vendor not confined himself to shipping only domestically, I'd have snapped it up.

As it is, here are the pages previewed on the auction site for the scrap book. One day, I'd like to do some proper research into this particular residency...

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Time and Again

"You can spend a lifetime exploring Ellington’s music — between official recordings and informally captured performances there are thousands of hours of what has come to be called Ellingtonia — and it would be a worthy and joyous existence."

Steve Futterman, Time magazine.

You can read the full text of the article here.