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.

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