Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Drum Again...

I am republishing a post on Ellington's A Drum Is A Woman from September 2009 thanks to the great generosity of a friend of this blog who posts regular Ellington videos on Youtube under the name Reminiscing in Tempo.

Seeing that the original link to Life's photographs of the TV production of A Drum is a Woman had perished, our benefactor provided a link to his own Facebook page with over 140 images from the production. Thank you so much! Follow the new link here, then, in this reposted form to access this cache of wonderful images...

A member of the Duke-LYM mailing list recently posted a link to a splendid cache of photographs capturing the telecast of Duke Ellington’s A Drum is a Woman.

Kinescopes of the original broadcast survive, I believe. Short of viewing these recordings – well, these photographs, taken by Thomas Mcavoy for Life magazine, give some idea of the visuals that went with the music.

Until I saw these images, it had never quite struck me before how A Drum is a Woman must owe its lineage to those days and nights the Ellington Orchestra had been the ‘house band’ at The Cotton Club. What we have here, essentially, is a floor show - the floor, in this case, being that of a television studio.

Although one or two aspects of the lyrics may set the nerves of a modern sensibility jangling like a shop bell, the music – interwoven with Ellington’s witty, urbane narrative – is sublime.
The album has never been released on compact disc in the USA. Frustratingly two CDs worth of material (and in stereo, if memory serves) were prepared by Phil Schaap – and even assigned an issue number – ten years ago for release as part of the celebrations for Ellington’s centennial. For some reason, the release never saw the light of day. The album has been re-issued recently on CD in Europe where its copyright has lapsed but struck not, of course, from the master tapes. These beautiful prints may rekindle some interest in the project – as part of a Mosaic re-issue, perhaps?

The photographs may be viewed here...

1 comment:

  1. It seems impossible to find the original video... I hope one day it will be available to everyone... I'll be so glad to upload it on my YouTube channel!