Monday, 13 July 2015

Off the Wall

Duke Ellington and his Orchestra: The Conny Plank Session has been released and reviewed in The Wall Street Journal by Martin Johnson (here).

There are one or two interesting comments posted following the review and an interesting discussion at the organismic Jazz Forum here.

For the record, the vocalist overdubbed on the final track, Afrique, I understand is the Swedish singer Lena Junoff who met Ellington in Göteborg a few days before the session and was invited to New York to sing with the band at The Rainbow Grill in August of that year (1970).

According to Kultur GT (and make of this what you will - it is taken via Google Translate):

"Lena Junoff was born in Gothenburg in 1942. She began performing at age 15, was recognized for his voice that spanned over five octaves and worked soon as an artist full time. But something Swedish breakthrough was never. She debuted under the name Adah Helene, but this passed the disc buyers fairly unnoticed. In the late 60s she launched in England under the name of Margaret Lee and 1970, she was discovered by Duke Ellington and went to the United States, cooperation only lasted a few months.

Why she never got that big breakthrough is difficult to know. In the press written that she had hot temper, drug problems and that she once starred in a porn movie.
But one can not fail to be impressed by her CV. She has played with Rod Stewart in his mother's apartment, was engaged to "byxspräckarkungen" PJ Proby, inaugurated color televisions in Germany together with Willy Brandt, and as mentioned previously sung with Duke Ellington. As for Sinatra I find no data, but it is probably not impossible.
After an accident in the early 90s was injured Lena Junoffs voice. After that, she has appeared increasingly blissful."

There is, too, this Swedish TV film I found...

The site says (again, courtesy Google Translate):

"Rock Legends, hot love affairs and impromptu cooking. If this is the book "prima donna of Hisingen" - something as unusual as a biographical cookbook in serial form.

It all began when journalist and author Bo Sjökvist would make a documentary on the old slapstick artist Johnny Bode.

For the film's behalf he went to interview the singer Lena Junoff - who long ago sang a couple of songs with Bode. But the interview was not quite as it was supposed to.

- The first thing we got from Lena was a kind of show. She begins to sing, took us around the whole apartment and shows photos of Duke Ellington, Jimi Hendrix, PJ Proby and talk, talk and talk. Then she begins to invite us for canapés - it is jellied veal and strawberries - and she says that she wants to have a cooking show. We try to talk about Bode, but Lena did not like it. When I went away I thought 'maybe I should do something about Lena Junoff instead ", says Bo Sjökvist.

Peculiar cooking
Lena Junoff floored documentaries with stories from his own career - countless performances and tours in night clubs in Sweden and abroad, concerts of Duke Ellington and Hep Stars, love relationships with international rock stars - and their peculiar cooking.

Documentary film about Johnny Bode was shelved.

Contacted cartoonist
After a few failed attempts to record a cooking program with Lena Junoff contacted cartoonist Pontus Lunqvist.

- I always wanted to do just a comic book. When you tell these stories from way back in time, the series is the fantastic form of a documentary. You can put the settings, create and recreate and you do not keep up with complicated or expensive archives, says Bo Sjökvist.

Lena Junoff have long wanted to write a book about his life.

- Had I not been Duke Ellington's vocalist and singer of great theater in America so I would not have done this. But it is very fun to go back and look at his life as it has been, I would not like to have anything undone!"

You can read my earlier posts about The Conny Plank Sessions here and here.

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