Thursday, 28 August 2014

La Plus Belle...

William Greaves, TV host and documentary film maker, has died at the age of 87. From the Yahoo News item:

"In 1966, at the request of the United States Information Agency, he traveled to Senegal and filmed the First World Festival of Negro Arts, which featured Duke Ellington and Langston Hughes, among others."

Here is an extract from Greaves's documentary on Festival Mundial de Arte Negra: 

Sunday, 17 August 2014 Dig!

The Institut national de l'audiovisuel ( is an archive of audio-visual materials from French radio and television. I've now collected together on one page all of the videos pertaining to Duke Ellington in France and they may be viewed here

The following broadcast is also of great interest to Ellington aficionados: it comprises extracts from the concert at Salle Pleyel on 20 November, 1958, part of which is one of the videos. The music has also been released on Duke Ellington and his famous Orchestra: The Concert at The Pleyel, Paris 1958.

The sound on these extracts, however, is much higher fidelity. Enjoy the broadcast and the video page.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Under starter's orders...

From the bigO Audio Archive and free to download comes this performance from the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra under the direction of Wynton Marsalis.

The programme includes Ellington and Strayhorn themes Banquet Scene from Timon of Athens, Lady Mac from Such Sweet Thunder and a real rarity: The Degas Suite. Download this illustration as cover art for your iPod and details of the programme are pasted from the original site below.

Duke Ellington’s Degas Suite [no label, 1CD]
Live at the Rose Theater, NY, NY, and broadcast February 17, 2011. The performance was first broadcast May 7, 2009. Ex FM stereo.
“In the ’80s, the late Mercer Ellington donated his dad’s stockpile tapes to Danish Public Radio. A report from the International Association of Jazz Record Collectors (IAJRC) claims this consisted of ‘120 studio sessions, 35 location recordings and 50 interviews.’ In other words - this archive isn’t anywhere near exhausted. A huge number of stockpile tracks appeared in one hit in the late ’80s as a 10-CD (or cassette) Private Collection. They are available individually or in various boxes.” -
Inside this collection was The Degas Suite, a fully formed composition made for an unfinished documentary on the painter Edgar Degas’ paintings of racetrack scenes. The Suite was recorded in New York in 1968 and 1970 for photographer Sam Shaw’s documentary. It was mostly recorded at National Recording Studio in New York on November 6, 1968 and remained unreleased until 1987.
The first boxset of The Private Collection was released in Denmark by LMR in 1987. The most common of the sets were from Saja (US), Kaz Jazz Masters (UK) and Unidisc (Canada). WEA released the set in Germany and Japan. The Saja version is well regarded by collectors also because it is the only one that has all the movements in the Degas Suite individually tracked.
In 2009, Wynton Marsalis’ Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra played the entire suite with Ted Nash conducting. Our copy of this radio show comes from a recent 2011 rebroadcast. Unfortunately, parts of the music are spoken over by announcer Eric Reed.
What was originally conceived as four horns and Ellington on piano grew to become a big band. The Degas Suite is a sophisticated blend of piano, horns and reeds in a late period big band. Ellington left a lot of open spaces for his piano to lead. He was equally generous to share space with his sidemen. This is elegant music to illustrate his topic - Degas’ paintings.
Much time has passed since Ellington first recorded The Degas Suite in 1968. Already the CDs are either hard-to-find or out-of-print. The music however is timeless and also rare. 

You can download the broadcast here.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

The Quality of Mercer

New York City, 11 February 1950
Mercer recording session
Johnny Hodges, as; Jimmy Hamilton, ts; Harry Carney, bs; Billy Strayhorn, p; Wendell Marshall, b; Sonny Greer, d.
(NB: Ellington does not play on this session)
Hello, Little Boy - vCK
The Greatest There Is - vCK

New York City, NY   13 Sep 1950
Mercer recording session
Duke Ellington(p); Oscar Pettiford(ce); Lloyd Trottman(sb); Jo Jones(d)
M4005            Perdido            Me M-1952
Add Billy Strayhorn(cs)
M4006            Take The 'A' Train    Me M-1959
M4007            Oscalypso       Me M-1952
Billy Strayhorn out
M4008            Blues For Blanton       Me M-1959
CHUBBY KEMP AND HER ALL STARS  New York City, NY   21 Sep 1950
Mercer recording session
Red Rodney(t); Johnny Hodges(as); Harry Carney(bar); Duke Ellington(p); Oscar Pettiford(ce); Wendell Marshall(sb); Max Roach(d); Chubby Kemp(v)
M4010            Mean Old Choo Choo - vCK
M4013            A Slip Of The Lip (Me And My Wig) - vCK           Me M-1971

As before
M4014            How Blue Can You Get - vCK           Me M-1960

CHUBBY KEMP AND HER ALL STARS             Same session
As before
M4015            Juke Bop Boogie - vCK          Me M-1971
Chubby Kemp out. Add Sara Forde(v)
M4016            Set 'Em Up - vSF        Me M-1960
THE ELLINGTONIANS                  Same session
Red Rodney(t); Johnny Hodges(as); Harry Carney(bar); Duke Ellington(mp); Wendell Marshall(sb); Max Roach(d)
M4017            The New Piano Roll Blues     Me M-1958
M4018?          The Man I Love, Sara Forde vocal

BILLY STRAYHORN TRIO                      
21 September 1950
Mercer recording session
Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn(p); Wendell Marshall(sb)
M5710            Cotton Tail     Me LP-1001
M5711            C-Jam Blues    Me M-1964
M5712            Flamingo         Me M-1964
M5713            Bang Up Blues            Me LP-1001
21 October 1950
Mercer recording session
Mercer Ellington(fl); Benny Carter(as); Harry Carney(bar); Billy Strayhorn(p); Dave Barbour(g); Wendell Marshall(sb); Charlie Smith(d); Al Hibbler(v)
M4019            Stormy Weather - vAH          Me M-1956
Billy Strayhorn out. Add Duke Ellington(p)
M4020            Cherry - vAH Me M-1956
Duke Ellington and Mercer Ellington out. Add Billy Strayhorn(p)
M4021            Stardust - vAH           Me M-1965
Billy Strayhorn out. Add Duke Ellington(p)
M4022            Honeysuckle Rose - vAH       Me M-1965

New York City, NY   October 1950
Mercer recording session
Wild Bill Davis(o);Duke Ellington(p); John Collins(g); Wendell Marshall(sb); Jo Jones(d)
M4023            Things Ain't What They Used To Be            Me M-1955

BILLY STRAYHORN TRIO            New York City, NY   November 1950
Mercer recording session
Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn(p); Joe Shulman(sb)
M2479            Tonk   Me M-1963
M2480            Johnny Come Lately  Me M-1963
M2481            In A Blue Summer Garden      Me LP 1001

M2482            Great Times    Me LP 1001

THE CORONETS      New York City, NY   17 Apr 1951
Mercer recording session
Cat Anderson(t); Juan Tizol(tb); Jimmy Hamilton(cl,ts); Willie Smith(as); Paul Gonsalves(ts); Billy Strayhorn(p); Wendell Marshall(sb); Louis Bellson(d)
M4029            Night Walk      Me 1969
M4030            Moonlight Fiesta        Me 1967
M4031            She      Me 1967
M4032            The Happening           Me 1969

THE CORONETS      Boston, MA   18 May 1951
Mercer recording session
Britt Woodman, Quentin Jackson,Juan Tizol(tb); Jimmy Hamilton(cl,ts); Russell Procope(cl,as); Willie Smith(as);Duke Ellington(p); Wendell Marshall(sb); Louis Bellson(d)
M4033            Swamp Drum  Me LP-1005
M4034            Sultry Serenade           Me LP-1005

Duke Ellington out. Add Billy Strayhorn(p)
M4035            Indian Summer            Me 1968
Billy Strayhorn out. Add DE (p)
M4036            Britt-And-Butter Blues          Me LP-1005

THE CORONETS      New York City, NY   01 Jun 1951
Mercer recording session
Juan Tizol(tb); Willie Smith(as); Duke Ellington(p); Billy Strayhorn(o); Wendell Marshall(sb); Louis Bellson(d); Norma Oldham(v)
M4039            Caravan           Me 1968

THE CORONETS      New York City, NY   19 Jun 1951
Mercer recording session
Juan Tizol(tb); Jimmy Hamilton(cl,ts); Willie Smith(as); Duke Ellington(p); Wendell Marshall(sb); Louis Bellson(d)
M4040            Alternate         Me LP-1005
M4041            Hoppin' John  Me 1973

Duke Ellington out. Add Billy Strayhorn(p)
M4042            Jumpin' With Symphony Sid Me 1973, Me LP-1005