Tuesday, 5 November 2013


I'm presently re-posting quite  a lot of material from Terry Teachout's blog About Last Night simply to keep a record of the publicity rounds he is making to promote Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington.

Of the latest broadcasts and appearances, it took a little while to track down Mr Teachout's conversation with Jordan Rich of WBZ-AM, Boston but you can listen to that broadcast here.

Update: Another radio interview with Mr Teachout by Steve Kraske on KCUR's Up to Date (an early Ellington record label, coincidentally) may be listened to here.

Tom Nolan, author of Artie Shaw: Three Chords for Beauty's Sake, has reviewed Duke for the San Francisco Chronicle. Read that review here.

The review by Michael Glitz of The Huffington Post may be read here.

There is a full question-and-answer, too, with Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review Online here.

In this piece, Mr Teachout says:

"...too many of Ellington’s fans don’t want to know the truth about their hero, who was both a great man and a deeply flawed one. Me, I believe that the greatest tribute that a biographer can pay to a genius — and that’s what Ellington was — is to tell the truth about him, even when it hurts. Especially when it hurts."

Well, avoiding the obvious riposte, courtesy of Pontius Pilate, What is the truth? I have to say that what worries me is not any details of Ellington's personal life - there may well have been more of the satyr than Satie about Ellington for all I know - but the emphasis Mr Teachout has given to the process by which the standards (Mood Indigo, Sophisticated Lady, etc)were created and his own perceptions of the limitations of Ellington as composer which led one reviewer to pen the following paragraph:

"Ellington wasn't formally trained or even well-versed in classical music, so he found it difficult to write hummable tunes or structurally develop themes with any complexity. But he could meld together disparate musical fragments from his band members' solo performances, mastering a "mosaic method of composition." While not a flagrant plagiarist, Ellington still took most of the credit."

Is that really the impression of Ellington's art Mr Teachout wanted to give to the world? Is that the truth?

That particular piece was written by a Mr Bill Desowitz. You can read his piece here.

Saturday, 2 November 2013


I hope the following item goes to a good home: the master tape for the 1973 album collaboration between Duke Ellington and Teresa Brewer. How do these things get into the public domain? It really should be in The Smithsonian!

This auction is for an original 15ips two track stereo master/safety master tape of the collaboration between Duke Ellington & Teresa Brewer. It was originally released on Flying Dutchman but the master was purchased from them by Columbia for release in 1983 on vinyl album (PC 37340) & CD (CK 37340). This was Ellington's last studio album. The Allmusic review awarded the album 4½ stars. IT IS A GREAT ALBUM!

The tape is recorded on PROPERLY dehydrated (baked) Ampex 406 recording tape and plays great with no sticking or shedding. It comes on the reel and in the box shown. There is a full tone set at the head of the reel including an extra 1kHz tone so this MIGHT be a Dolby "A" tape. It played great on my equipment without being decoded however. There is leader at the head & tail of the reel plus leader between the tone set/program start and between sides. Please note that there are 2 engineer splices in the reel. The splices pass through fine and can NOT be audibly heard. The tape comes with the data sheet copy as shown. The data sheet is very hard to read. 

Song listing is:
Side 1:
It Don't Mean A Thing
I Ain't Got Nothing But The Blues
Satin Doll
Mood Indigo
Don't Get Around Much Any More
Beginning To See The Light

Side 2:
Rug Cutter
I Got It Bad & That Ain't Good
Tulip Or Turnip
Kinda Lonesome Out Tonight
Poco Mucho

You can follow the progress of the auction here.

Friday, 1 November 2013

In The Round

Here is a rarity via the virtual cathode ray tube: an interview with Duke Ellington filmed in Vancouver in 1970. The interview with Ellington begins about eight minutes in and occupies the rest of the programme. Johnny Mathis introduces the show and there is a performance by ABBA.

Description from the Youtube poster:

ABBA and Duke Ellington were guests on two Mike Neun CBC Vancouver TV series. Mike was the host of "IN THE ROUND" which national Canadian critics raved was "the best variety series of the season" in the summer of 1970. In the first show, world renowned jazz legend Duke Ellington dropped by for a rare casual chat and performed his classic composition "Satin Doll" with the Doug Parker house band. The series led to other Mike Neun CBC series, here introduced by singer Johnny Mathis in 1976, NEUN AT NIGHT, with ABBA performing their two massive hits, "Dancing Queen" and "Fernando." Ellington was awarded The Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1966. At 76, he died of lung cancer in 1974, with over 12,000 attending the genius' funeral. Swedish pop/rockers ABBA (Agnetha, Benny, Bjorn, Anni-Afid) were one of the most commercially successful acts in pop music history, topping charts worldwide between 1972-1982, selling over 370 million records worldwide, making them one of the world's best selling artists of all time.