"Storyville Records is proud to present volume 24 in the Duke Ellington Treasury Shows series. With this volume of the DETS series, we jump seven years ahead in the life and career of Duke Ellington. Volume 23 ended with a broadcast from the Aquarium Restaurant in New York in October 1946. Now we are in Chicago, Illinois, at the Blue Note and in 1953."
Wolfram Knauer's "Duke Ellington" (in German) describes (this the blurb of the publisher) "the composer, pianist and bandleader Duke Ellington as a unifying figure in jazz. Musicians of all decades, all styles, all artistic directions seem to be able to identify with his musical aesthetic. Knauer listens to Ellington's recordings and recounts his biography by answering questions raised by his aesthetic decisions, thus tracing the straightforward career of an artist who knew that part of his magic was to collect and assemble his music out of the many different voices in his orchestra. Knauer's vivid way of writing and his knowledge about Ellington, his life, the economic and social context of his creative work gives insights into why Ellington took the directions he took and lets the reader understand the motivation behind the different stages of his career." --- Or, in Knauer's own words, "What I tried to do in the book was literally: listen to the music and constantly ask, why did Ellington write, play, think like he did at that particular time. What made him make aesthetic or musical decisions, where are the experiments which he is trying out leading, when and why did he choose to redirect his path, why does his music in different decades sound differently and how should one approach these different parts of his career in order to fairly write about (or listen to) his music? As I write in my foreword, my framing approach was a little unusual but very rewarding: I went into the Ellington archives at the Smithsonian Institution before I even wrote a single word, having them bring me boxes I chose out of curiosity more than because I had a specific interest in their content, hoping that what was in them might pose some of the questions I might want to answer in my book (after all, hasn't *everything* been written already?!?). After that I started listening to, it feels like, everything and constantly asked, "Why?" and "What" more than "Who?" and "Where or When?". That led to contextualizing his life, his compositional process, the idea of composition in jazz in general, his interaction with his band members as well as with other musicians, his private life, his business affairs, and - most of all - his recordings. When I was done with the rough manuscript, I returned to the Ellington archives with very specific questions, had them bring me mostly music manuscripts and studied his composition notes, his score sketches, the parts, to get an idea of what exactly is in the notation and where the magic happens to make it all come alive and become so personal. I believe that my approach is different from most books previously written about Ellington, and I do hope to see it being translated into English eventually. But at this point there is only the German edition, published by one of the most renowned German presses, Reclam." (Reclam, Amazon)
- Fr. Gerald Pocock, who died Sept. 4 in Ottawa at age 92, was a gregarious
Roman Catholic chaplain at Montreal’s St. Mary’s Hospital in 1969 when he
befriended American jazz legend Duke Ellington.
was playing at the Esquire Show, a popular Montreal club. Fr. Pocock, whose
record collection was legendary, was a huge jazz fan. After the show the two
men were introduced and began what became a deep friendship.
the next five years, until Ellington’s death of lymphatic cancer, Fr. Pocock
travelled with and counselled the Duke, and even wrote some of the lyrics to
Ellington’s “Third Sacred Concert,” which premiered at Westminster Abbey in
London, England, in 1973.
was not a religious man but, according to Fr. Pocock, he was deeply
made friends easily, and among his friends were priests, ministers and rabbis.
He often composed in the hours before dawn and called to ask questions about
whatever was on his mind, Fr. Pocock once said.
relationship involved religion, but I am not comfortable saying that I
ministered to him. Often what we talked about was confidential, but it is fair
to say we discussed scripture and common beliefs.”
Pocock, one of five children, was born Oct. 28, 1924 in Toronto and even as a
boy he was hooked on jazz the way some boys are hooked on hockey or baseball.
The son of an osteopath, he joined the Royal Canadian Navy in 1943 and while at
sea on North Atlantic patrol managed to persuade the ship’s wireless operator
to let him listen to jazz broadcasts from New York.
the war, he followed his older brother, Hubert, into the priesthood. Ordained a
Montfort Father in 1957, he then studied canon law at the University of Ottawa.
Fr. Pocock began his pastoral work visiting missions and preaching retreats in
the United States and took a sabbatical in Harlem before moving to Montreal to
become chaplain at St. Mary’s Hospital.
Pocock never abandoned his love of jazz and befriended many musicians,
including jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and vocalist Sarah Vaughan.
was on a first-name basis with a whole slew of people and he corresponded with
some of the biggest names. He’d write letters to people like Carmen McRae,
Thelonious Monk and Nina Simone. He had beautiful penmanship,” recalled retired
Montreal music promoter Sheldon Kagan.
we first met, I minded my p’s and q’s because he was a priest, but I soon
learned he was a wonderful, down-to-Earth guy. He loved his scotch.”
night Ellington played at the Esquire Show, Fr. Pocock arrived early to get the
best seat in the house. The owner, Norm Silver, introduced him to Ellington,
who was with his son Mercer and grandson Eddy. After the show, they went to the
famous Montreal deli, Ben’s, and over smoked-meat sandwiches talked until dawn.
Before leaving, the two men exchanged phone numbers and continued to see each
other on a regular basis.
best thing in the world was to ride in the back of a cab with Duke Ellington in
New York City and watch him give directions,” Fr. Pocock told a reporter after
was his town — he knew all the alleys, all the back streets, where everyone
played and everyone lived.’’
night while visiting Ellington at his suite in a Montreal hotel, Fr. Pocock
scribbled some poetry on hotel stationery. The Duke incorporated the effort,
“Is God a three-letter word for love,” into his “Third Sacred Concert.”
Pocock was with Ellington the night he died in 1974. It was, he recalled, “the
only time he ever said goodbye to me.”
Pocock was also one of four co-celebrants at Ellington’s funeral, attended by
thousands of luminaries and fans, held at New York’s Anglican Cathedral of St.
John the Divine. Letters exchanged between Fr. Pocock and Ellington are on file
at the National Museum of History Archives in Washington, D.C.
Pocock left Montreal for Ottawa in 1987 to become pastor at St. Maurice parish,
then at Holy Cross parish.
preached on a broad range of subjects, and his parishioners and his patients
loved him,” his cousin, Sheila Pocock, told The Catholic Register.
“He brought theology down to Earth in a way that everyone could understand. He
was a big, gentle man and he was lots of fun.”
During the Autumn season, there are no less than nine concerts of Duke Ellington's music in the UK by four different aggregations, each playing the full-bodied original orchestral engagements. These are the engagements...