Thursday, 2 April 2020

The Seventies: ... the Cave, man...

Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of Duke Ellington and his orchestra opening at the Cave, a supper club situated at 626 Hornby Street, Vancouver. 

You may recall from this post, that Nadine Jones, who had previously asked Ellington to conduct the Salvation Army band, was invited to the Orchestra's opening night at the venue on 2 April. She said: 

"What I do remember is that he invited my then-husband and me to his show at the Cave and backstage to his dressing room at half time.  He was 71, no kid at the time, and had spent most of his life in second hand smoke so when we went backstage he was lying on his back full length, resting between appearances. Since I was sitting behind him, I held his head up while he signed autographs. Maybe that`s why I was born? To hold up Duke Ellington’s head?"

The engagement ran from Thursday, 2 April, 1970 to Saturday, 11 April.

It is remembered chiefly today because of a bootlegged recording of the opening night which found its way onto a couple of green-coloured vinyl LPs in 1971...

Introduction / Rockin' In Rhythm
Creole Love Call / Fife
Tenor Solo / Take The A Train
Tenor Saxophone Calisthenics
Birth Of The Blues
Passion Flower / Things Ain't What They Used To Be
Drum Solo / Medley
Mood Indigo / I'm Beginning To See The Light
It Don't Mean A Thing / I've Got It Bad / Medley
Introduction / Happy Birthday
Take The A Train / I Can't Get Started
Don't Be Cool
April In Paris / Drum Solo

Here is an on-line review about this release...

RAC-CA3 United States 1970RAC – Jazz – Big Band – Instrumental
Perf: Duke ELLINGTON & his Orchestra Prod. Co: The Old Masters; San Mateo, CA 
Rec. Date: ca.1970
1. Bootleg LP: DUKE ELLINGTON OPENS THE CAVE – VOL. 1 The Old Masters TOM-44
2. Bootleg LP: DUKE ELLINGTON OPENS THE CAVE – VOL. 2 The Old Masters TOM-45
Spec: (Nos. 1 & 2) 12” 33rpm (Sides 1 & 2) (Green vinyl)Notes: This celebrated big band performs live in The Cave.
One jazz fan reported that – “In the 70s I purchased an LP that was called something like "Duke Ellington Live from The Cave." It was a garish, translucent object I forget whether it was red or turquoise, the sound was awful, and a few of the selections were only fragments. It was obviously a bootleg probably recorded under someone's table. I told Duke about it, he was furious, and he insisted that I send it immediately to Stanley Dance who was tracing bootlegs for Duke at the time. I did, asking Stanley to return my prize after he had examined it. Stanley acknowledged receipt of the LP but refused to return it, saying he "needed it." I never found another copy but Duke did say that he had played The Cave in Vancouver and that no recording had been authorized.” (Willard 2003)

More details are provided by a jazz writer, David Palmquist, a native of downtown Vancouver – “We had a radio personality in Vancouver who recently passed away, Jack Cullen by name. His claim to fame was interviewing all the jazz greats to hit town, and he frequently made bootleg recordings of their performances. I suspect the LP you're referring to was a result of his work, and he probably pressed a few copies for his friends. Maybe one of them got into the wrong hands and copied for broader distribution.”(Palmquist 2003)

Regarding the producer of these bootlegs, another jazz fan writes – “The producer of THE OLD MASTERS was someone using the name "Max Abrams" and he operated out of a Los Angeles Post Office Box. The LPs appeared in 1971 and disappeared at once but the LPs had "general distribution" and were exported world wide (sic) by Jack’s Record Cellar of San Francisco.” (Hällström 2003)
“The label on the A side of the first record fails to include the opening number C-Jam Blues. Following this tune, the MC announces, "Ladies and Gentlemen, The Cave Theatre Restaurant proudly presents Duke Ellington." (Hornsby 2003)
One jazz critic had this to say – “One of the worst bootlegs of Duke Ellington to emerge is this obvious audience recording of excerpts from the set of a concert in Vancouver, which claims to be the final liverecording featuring alto sax great Johnny Hodges... The sound is horrid and out of balance throughout bothsides of this LP; several of the tracks end abruptly as if the tape machine ran out... Ellington’s piano is hardly audible, the rich texture of the horns and reeds is badly muffled, while the audience conversations around the source mic are very audible at times. Not even the most zealous collector of the music of Duke Ellington should invest in this despicable ripoff!” (Dryden 2018)
Ref: Dryden, Ken 2018, Duke Ellington Opens The Cave – Vol. 1, Review, AllmusicDuke Ellington Opens The Cave – Vol. 1, DiscogsDuke Ellington Opens The Cave – Vol. 2, DiscogsWillard, Patricia; Palmquist, David; Hällström, Carl; & Hornsby, John 2003, The International DEMS Bulletin, No. 2-3,
Dec. 2002-Mar. 2003, p. 567, Duke Ellington Music Society, depanorama

This bootleg had a further ignominious please in the digital era. I wrote about the dreadful CD-r produced by Squatty Roo here.

The Cave itself was demolished to make way for a downtown Vancouver office tower a mere eleven years after Ellington had played there. You can see a video of the news report here.

Monday, 23 March 2020

The Seventies: North of the Border

According to the Duke Where and When site, Ellington and the Orchestra must have arrived in Toronto, Canada on 16 March, 1970.

With the exception of a brief excursion back across the border to perform at an Elks Club dance in Portland, Oregon on 1 April, the Orchestra remained in Canada  touring until Saturday, 11 April. We'll look at some key moments as close to fifty years to the day over the next month or so.

 You can find my original post about this, Salvation at Hand here.

Sad to say that since the report was filed  for Richmond News, she passed away on 18 December, 2017. Her obituary may be read here.

I have not yet been able to assign a specific date to Ellington's conducting the Salvation Army Band but I have found a superb photograph of the event from the City of Vancouver Archives. This is where I also sourced the photograph at the top of the post which shows Ellington with Miss Sally Ann of Salvation Army and Robert Bonner, holding a tambourine. Perhaps we will be able to narrow down the date eventually. Certainly, the photograph below was published originally on 16 April, 1970, though Duke had already left Canada by then.

Sunday, 22 March 2020

The Ellington Effect

Last week saw the launch of a Kickstarter Project for The Ellington Effect: a proposed series of five books covering the music of Duke Ellington's music over the course of his career by David Berger, an acknowledged expert on Maestro's work.

David writes...

I'm excited to announce the official launch of my project to write a new, 5-part book series, The Ellington Effect, that analyzes in depth the music of the great Duke Ellington.  As you may know, in the course of my career I have spent a considerable amount of time studying and transcribing the music of the masters, no small part of which has been Duke's.  This project is a culmination of much of that study, and will go deeper than any other publication ever has into everything that is happening in this complex panoply of beauty that is Duke's body of work.
Please check out the Kickstarter page that has all the information about the plans for the book series and what we have to do to make it happen.  It's a momentous project for me personally, but also an exceptionally important resource for the world to have.

Thanks for your support!

The Project
“Duke Ellington’s music, more than anyone else’s, expresses what it feels like to be an American.” – Albert Murray
Academia celebrates the great composers: Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, and so on—all Europeans who created music out of their unique cultural backgrounds. But as a country, Americans have failed to recognize the importance of our own music beyond the popular arena.
In jazz, Americans have had a number of brilliant composers—Jelly Roll Morton, Horace Silver, Benny Golson and Charles Mingus, to name a few—but none can compare to Duke Ellington, whose work created and codified the language, leading the way for every jazz musician who followed. Duke’s 50-year career spanned several eras and styles, with music that remains both innovative and grounded in tradition.
So, why has Ellington not been given the same level of respect as Europe’s geniuses? Could it be national or racial prejudice? Not enough time for perspective? The collaborative nature of his music? His stature as a pop and cultural icon? Yes, but there’s also something accorded most great composers that Ellington has gotten very little of —serious, published scholarship. A few books discuss his music. Some include analysis, but there has yet to be a book that examines his full scores in depth, getting beneath the surface techniques and exploring what makes this music at once uniquely personal, American—and universal.
We are creating a set of five volumes, each dealing with one era of Ellington’s work:
  • Flaming Youth: 1924-1930
  • The Age of Invention: 1931-1939
  • Lightning in a Bottle: 1940-1943
  • Extended Abstraction: 1944-1956
  • Citizen of the World: 1957-1974
Each volume will include analyses of 8-10 scores. The books will be available in both print and kindle formats.

The Background

Duke Ellington's music has set the standard for which I have aspired to in my own composition, arranging, and band leading for the past fifty years.  It inspires me, and listening to it brings me unending joy.  I love sharing this with other musicians and non-musicians alike.
I've been transcribing and studying Duke Ellington's music for the past fifty years.  I taught a 2-semester graduate course at the Manhattan School of Music on Ellington's oeuvre.  We used my scores and recordings for analysis.  I contributed two chapters to The Cambridge Companion to Duke Ellington.  One chapter, "The Land of Suites," covered his extended works, and the other was entitled "In the Process of Becoming," which told the stories of how a few of his pieces developed after the initial writing of the score.  In 2014 I published Creative Jazz Composing and Arranging Volume 1, in which I analyzed four of my own compositions in great detail.  This gave me the idea to write a similar book analyzing Ellington's scores.  But, I didn't want to limit it to just a few scores since Ellington has such a large catalog of compositions (about 1500) written over a 50-year span.  This led me to the idea of doing a series of five volumes, each one focusing on the music of a decade or so.  With recent changes in the copyright law, every year new titles enter the public domain, therefore eliminating any barriers that pertain to copyright permission.  Lastly, at the time of writing this I am 70 years old and would like to pass on what I have learned to future generations while I am still able to.
I haven't started writing the analyses yet, although I have written little pieces of analyses for performance notes and program notes over the years.  But one major step I have already completed for this project is nearly 500 transcriptions of complete Ellington scores, upon which the analyses will be based.  Many of these have been published, and for those that haven't, I'm in the process of putting my pencil scores into notation software so that they are publishing-ready. 


Completion of this Kickstarter campaign successfully will allow me to dive into the writing of volume one immediately.
I estimate it will take me several years to write each volume.  There will be editing and production work after that.
  • April 29, 2020: Duke Ellington's birthday--the campaign ends
  • May 2020: I begin writing
  • May 2022: Finish draft
  • April 2023: Editing and proofing finished
  • January 2024: Design and layout finished
  • November 1, 2024: Prerelease copies sent to reviewers and reward recipients
  • December 15, 2024: Book launch


This fundraising campaign is a matching funds situation.  A donor has offered to put 50,000 euros (~$55,000 USD) toward this project if we are able to raise 25,000 euros (~$27,500 USD) ourselves, to prove there is enough interest.  Funds raised beyond the budget required to produce volume 1 will go toward creating subsequent volumes in the series.


Volume 1 begins with a list of 23 techniques that remain constant in Ellington's music from 1924 to 1974.  Each technique will be discussed in the context of each piece.  In addition to these 23 features, I'll also be discussing motivic development, balance of elements, the use of opposites, and many other compositional techniques and considerations.
To make a food analogy, it's as if these 23 techniques are ingredients a chef might use. Many chefs utilize some or all of these ingredients, but only a master chef has the imagination and courage to constantly create innovative, thoroughly satisfying dishes that simultaneously honor the culture and build on its traditions.
Each chapter will be dedicated to an analysis of a single composition.  Pieces included in Volume 1:
  • Choo Choo
  • East St. Louis Toodle-oo
  • Birmingham Breakdown
  • Black And Tan Fantasy
  • Black Beauty
  • The Mooche
  • Awful Sad
  • Ring Dem Bells
  • Old Man Blues
  • Mood Indigo

About the Author

Jazz composer, arranger, and conductor, David Berger, is recognized internationally as a leading authority on the music of Duke Ellington and the Swing Era. Conductor and arranger for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra from its inception in 1988 through 1994, Berger has transcribed over 750 full scores of classic recordings, including more than 500 works by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn in addition to hundreds of other classic jazz recordings.
In 1996 Berger collaborated with choreographer Donald Byrd to create and tour Harlem Nutcracker, a full-length two-hour dance piece that expands the Tchaikovsky/ Ellington/Strayhorn score into an American classic. The 15-piece band assembled to play this show has stayed together as the David Berger Jazz Orchestra. The DBJO actively performs Berger’s music on tours throughout the United States and Europe.
Berger has written music for numerous jazz groups of all sizes, symphony orchestras, singers, dancers, television, Broadway shows and films and has served as conductor and musical director for dance companies, TV and stage shows.
Following a career as a trumpet player, Berger served as adjunct professor at a number of jazz studies programs in the New York metropolitan area including The Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, The New School, and William Paterson University. He has written dozens of etude books for Charles Colin, as well as jazz composing and arranging books for his own publishing company, Such Sweet Thunder.
Risks and challenges.
Writing the book, while it is a massive undertaking that will most definitely require several years to complete, is the most straightforward part of this process. I have a strong sense for how the writing will proceed, as I have published four books already with my own publishing company, and I also recently completed a book for another publisher that will be released this year. I have been researching Duke Ellington's music for the entirety of my 50-plus-year career, so the research is not a limiting factor. Two of my already published books serve as direct models for the format of the new Ellington book series, so the path forward is extremely clear. I also have three other books currently in process, the first two of which are 90% complete. The third is in an early stage. These are much smaller projects than this Ellington book series, but finishing these secondary projects will affect the time I can devote to the Ellington Effect project to a certain extent. The biggest challenge in this project is the fundraising portion. As an author and musician, this comes least naturally to me, and luckily I have some support from friends and collaborators. But reaching this goal is the only way to unlock the matching funding from a donor, so the biggest risk is that we will not reach the goal amount that unlocks the matching funds. Another challenge involved in this project is pitching the book to large academic publishers, including several university presses. In the event that I can't get a major publisher for the project, I'm prepared to self-publish as I have done with my previous books.

The Ellington Effect: Post Script

Further to the post above, here is a piece on The Ellington Effect by the late Jeff Friedman, Professor of  Jazz Composition at Berkeley College of Music. How this list of 'ingredients' compares to David merger's, time will tell. The piece was originally published at David Palmquist's Ellington on the Web site.

The Ellington Effect
by Jeff Friedman

As I understand it, "The Ellington Effect" was the sound bite for the fact that Strayhorn had "cracked the code," meaning he'd caught on to Duke's musical tendencies and techniques.
The late, great Herb Pomeroy, who was probably the first to teach the techniques of Duke for an academic course (at Berklee), developed a list of Dukish techniques. Herb was my mentor, and he fostered my fanatical interest in Duke.

When Herb retired from Berklee, I inherited his Duke course, and for the course, I adopted (read: embellished and expanded) Herb's list. I would suggest that these are the technical elements of "the Ellington effect," with the proviso that if you wrote music using all of the stuff on the list, you wouldn't sound like Duke, because techniques are tools to express musical IDEAS, and Duke was Duke!
  1. Combination Diminished Voicings

  2. Blue Note Voicings

  3. Wide interval melody and counter-melody

  4. Extensive use of dominant harmony (bluesy effects)

  5. Unusual combinations of instruments

  6. Unusual instrumental registers (i.e., high bari, low tenor, etc.)

  7. Lead not always top voice

  8. Constant color coupling above lead

  9. Conversational jazz soloists

  10. Obligato melodic settings for soloist

  11. Extensive use of clarinet in reeds

  12. Impressionistic harmony (i.e., parallelism, whole tone, etc.)

  13. Plungers in brass
    1. )  sectional
    2. )  solos
    3. )  muted 
    4. )  non-muted 
    5. )  “Pep” section (2 trumpets plus trombone,
      using wah wah plunger mutes)
  14. Shorter than usual brass punctuations 

  15. Faster than usual brass shakes 

  16. Extensive use of “continuing” pedal point (ambient thread drone)

  17. Constant structure in compositions and arrangements

  18. Concerting within the octave when possible 

  19. Abrupt changes of mood (sharp contrast) 

  20. Triadic trombone solis 

Thursday, 12 March 2020

Conference Cancelled

Notice posted to website of Ellington 2020: 

Due to the spread of Covid-19, ALL PUBLIC EVENTS associated with this conference are now CLOSED TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC. Videos are scheduled to be be made of various presentations on the agenda, and these will be posted for the public to view at a later date. Thank you for your understanding.

This is sad news. Having been involved closely in the organisation of the 25th International Duke Ellington Study Conference in Birmingham UK two years ago, I know how hard Professor Anna Celenza will have worked to bring everything together for this conference. Admirers of the music of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn are in her debt. It is very encouraging to read that videos of the presentations will be made and published. In view of the challenges facing the world at present, the loss of one conference is perhaps not very much in the scheme of things but we cherish everything the conference stands for and the coming weeks and months can only serve to make us cherish all the more all we hold dearly.

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Ellington 2020: Agenda

I write this in the UK on the eve of  The 26th International Duke Ellington Study Group Conference. Here, for the record, are details of the agenda for the conference...

Thursday, March 12
  • REGISTRATION and coffee: Leavey Center, Salon H
  • Welcome – Anna Celenza, Georgetown University
9:10AM-12:00PM - SESSION I

Ken Steiner



Duke Ellington’s rise to popularity was concurrent with the rise of radio itself.  Duke’s opening at the Cotton Club on December 4, 1927 – and the broadcasts that came with it – was “the beginning of Duke’s national popularity,” as Sonny Greer recalled. It didn’t happen overnight though. For the first fifteen months at the Cotton Club, Ellington broadcast over local independent station WHN’s erratic signal. 1929 was the year Ellington went national.  Radio was exploding in growth, and William Paley, in a challenge to the powerful NBC networks, was looking for hot new programming for his upstart Columbia Broadcasting System. At the urging of sportscaster and Cotton Club enthusiast Ted Husing, Ellington was signed to broadcasts over CBS’s clear-channel flagship WABC and its coast-to-coast network. Beginning in February of 1929, Ellington’s eerie tunes and the Cotton Club were widely broadcast. One-and-half years later, Ellington was lured to NBC and their Blue and Red networks. Ellington was heard over more stations, with greater coverage, and more prestige. Ken Steiner, using the latest research, will explore Duke’s Cotton Club broadcasts, and will trace their growth from WHN to CBS then NBC, the extent of their coverage, their changing nature, and impact.

 Kenneth R. Steiner is a 1975 graduate of Georgetown University, earning an AB in History with distinction. At Georgetown, Ken took a Jazz History class, presented a radio show over WGTB, and attended a Duke Ellington concert at Georgetown’s Gaston Hall. He’s been under the spell of Ellington’s music ever since. He has benefitted from friendships with members of the DC Chapter of the Duke Ellington Society including Jack Towers and John Malachi. His first Ellington Conference was in 1999 in Washington, DC. Ken has researched Ellington’s itinerary from 1923 to 1941 through newspapers and magazines, court records, and discographical information. He has spoken at Ellington Conferences in Stockholm, London, Amsterdam, Portland, and New York. Ken lives in Seattle.


Maristella Feustle


Willis Conover’s career is like a thread running through the history of jazz after the Second World War. Following that thread reveals enlightening connections between Conover’s activities and those of top jazz artists, especially Duke Ellington. While Conover is best known for his 41 years as a broadcaster of jazz for the Voice of America, his career at the VOA continued relationships he had already developed as a local radio personality and concert promoter in Washington, D.C. One of those relationships was a lifelong friendship with Duke Ellington, from
the late 1940s until Ellington’s death in 1974. Conover even got to ride on the tour bus with the band for two weeks in the late summer of 1949. Twenty years later, Conover was instrumental in organizing Ellington’s 70th birthday party at the White House. Conover kept copies of the work he was proud of, and documentation of these events resides in his personal collection at the University of North Texas Music Library. Such documents include digitized recordings of interviews with Ellington in 1946, 1948, 1955, 1961, and 1973, and improvised solo piano
performances. Ellington seemed at ease with Conover, and exchanges with a friendly, knowledgeable interviewer yield inherently different results from those of a more general audience. This presentation will highlight primary source Ellington materials from the Conover Collection, for two purposes: First, any new discovery of Ellington speaking or playing is intrinsically valuable for capturing how he thought and played at a given moment in time. In addition, millions of international listeners gained exposure to Ellington’s music mediated by Conover’s own perspective and experiences. It is therefore instructive on many levels to look more closely at Ellington through Conover’s eyes.

Maristella Feustle is the Music Special Collections Librarian at the University of North Texas. She is an alumna of both the jazz studies (M.M., 2009) and library science (M.S., 2010) programs at UNT, and serves as one of two representatives from the Music Library Association (MLA) on the National Recording Preservation Board. She also serves on the Society of American Archivists' Technical Subcommittee on "Describing Archives: a Content Standard," and as editor for MLA's Index and Bibliography Series. She has published several articles, presented in five countries, and remains active in the Dallas area as a jazz guitarist.

10:30AM – BREAK


Reuben Jackson


This presentation seeks to focus on entrancing examples of Duke Ellington’s nature-inspired compositions.  From early recordings such as Rainy Nights to the aural portrait of Two mountains in Mexico (The Sleeping Lady and The Giant Who Watches Over Her from the Latin American Suite), Ellington’s music was characterized by an ever present timbral invention and wonder. The musical examples I will feature in this presentation will be interspersed with brief quotes by Ellington and/or Billy Strayhorn.  In their own voices, they add meaning to the music I will share.

Reuben Jackson is Archivist with the University of The District Of Columbia’s Felix E. Grant Jazz Archives. From 1989 until 2009, he was Archivist and Curator with the Smithsonian’s Duke Ellington Collection. From 2012 until 2018, he hosted Friday Night Jazz on Vermont Public Radio.


Michon Boston


This presentation covers the years 1914-64 or the start of WW I until the signing of the Civil Rights Act. Ellington is woven throughout. It includes the rise of jass in the culture after the death of Scott Joplin. The role Congress played in containing the music in DCPS (often those attempts failed), and the community that supported Ellington’s development as a musician and composer. And, the story of Emma Gordon and her cousin Edgar McEntree – close friends and colleagues of the young Ellington. 

Michon Boston is a writer and founder/executive producer of the Michon Boston Group creating engagement strategies and productions to connect storytellers to communities for maximum impact. Through her work with television, film, cultural institutes, authors, and artists, Michon ensures that the important voices and stories of today are heard in the communities where they are most needed. Her work has been published in the New York Times, Washington City Paper, Washington Post Magazine, The Root, and Oberlin Alumni Magazine.


John Edward Hasse


Many in the world of Ellingtonia are aware of the pre-eminent Duke Ellington Collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, numbering 200,000 pages of music and documents.  What is not as well-known are the dozens of other Museum collections that include significant Ellington material—the papers of Barney Bigard, Rex Stewart, Cat Anderson, Ruth Ellington, Gaye and Edward Ellington, et al.  And here are Ellington portraits, photographs, and recordings in other Smithsonian museums.  This talk provides an overview, points to highlights, lends advice on accessing these treasures, and addresses the question of what difference it makes.  

Allyn Johnson


Allyn Johnson is a multi-talented musician, composer-arranger, recording artist and producer with trademark sound in the world of jazz. A pianist of international recognition, he performs with a “who’s who” of jazz musicians at major jazz venues, festivals, and events and has a growing library of compositions and arrangements. Described in the DC jazz guide Capital Bop, as the “Dean of DC Jazz,” Johnson “is known as both a performer who can draw capacity crowds to venues around the city and an educator whose position as the director of Jazz Studies at the University of the District of Columbia makes him a key player in the cultivation of DC’s next generation of torch carriers.”

4:30-5:00PM - COFFEE BREAK

Joe Medjuck


On March 3, 1965 the CBC TV Program Festival broadcast an episode titled The Duke. This screening will be the first time the film has been viewed in thirty-three years. It’s last screening occurred at the Duke Ellington Conference in Toronto in May 1987.

Joe Medjuck is a retired film producer who received his BA in English from McGill University and his MA and PhD from the University of Toronto, where he taught for twelve years and founded the Cinema Studies Program. Medjuck also worked as a journalist for the film magazine Take One, Canadian Forum, The Times Literary Supplement, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and TVOntario. His producing credits in the US include the films Stripes, Heavy Metal, Ghostbusters, Twins, Beethoven, Kindergarten Cop, Dave, Junior, Commandments, Father’s Day, Private Parts, Space Jam, Six Days, Seven Nights, Road Trip, Old School, Up in the Air, No Strings Attached, Hitchcock and Draft Day. In television his producing credits include the cartoon shows The Real Ghostbusters, Beethoven and Mummies Alive! as well as the Emmy-nominated HBO film The Late Shift. Medjuck was one of the founders of The Criterion Collection. He has attended four previous Ellington Conferences, written for Blue Light and the DESS Bulletin and first wrote about Ellington in 1965 when he reviewed a night club performance for The McGill Daily.

Friday, March 13
  • REGISTRATION and coffee: Lohrfink Auditorium lobby (GU Hariri Building) 
9:00-12:30 - SESSION II

David Berger
For twelve years I taught a two-semester graduate course on Duke Ellington at the Manhattan School of Music, where I supplied hundreds of recordings and full scores of Ellington’s music. Although Ellington used to say, “Too much talk stinks up the place,” and “The music speaks for itself,” in the world of academia, art must be explained to be assessed.
Starting in 2020, I will be writing a series of five books analyzing Ellington’s music in depth. Each volume will cover a decade and give analyses of the major pieces of each period with special attention to his developmental techniques—how does he tell the story, and why does it delight us so? 
My talk gives a glimpse into my approach by zeroing in on two classic pieces, one early and one late, and showing how Ellington’s music was already perfect by the age of 25, and how he expanded his scope by being inclusive to everything he encountered in life.
David Berger is a jazz composer, arranger, and conductor recognized internationally as a leading authority on the music of Duke Ellington and the Swing Era, having transcribed over 500 Ellington and Strayhorn full scores. Conductor and arranger for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra from its inception in 1988 through 1994, he co-founded Essentially Ellington and continues to perform Ellington clinics and concerts with high schools and colleges in the US and Europe. He taught at conservatories for 30 years including Juilliard and Manhattan School of music, and has authored four books and contributed two chapters to The Cambridge Companion to Duke Ellington.

Hannah Krall
Caravan is one of the most famous jazz standards of all time; the tune is performed and recorded so frequently that over 350 adaptations by other musicians exist in addition to the plethora of arrangements recorded by the Duke Ellington Orchestra. The first recording of Caravan, recorded by Barney Bigard and his Jazzopators on December 19, 1936, credits Juan Tizol as the sole composer. Later recordings give credit to both Ellington and his manager, Irving Mills. Because Ellington and Mills’ appropriation of band members’ compositions was commonplace, it is easy to assume that the conception of Caravanfollows a similar narrative. Tizol claimed that “Duke took credit for everything I did;” he only offered Ellington credit for arranging his compositions. Despite Tizol’s insistence on compositional independence, trumpeter Rex Stewart contends that Caravan’s melody “evolved from another tune, Alabamy Home.” Alabamy Home and Caravan are surprisingly similar in melody, harmony, and exotic affect. 
Inconsistent information in Stewart’s account and the fact that Caravanwas recorded three months before Alabamy Home initially complicate Stewart’s assertion. However, the discovery of a trombone part from the Ellington archive at the Smithsonian Institution for Alabamy Home, most likely dated between 1926 and 1928, supports Stewart’s claim that Alabamy Home was written first. I suggest that Tizol refined the exoticism of Alabamy Home, originally devised for the Cotton Club, in order to create Caravan,the most famous of his self-proclaimed “Spanish melodies.” Caravan started a complicated creative process in which arrangements of Caravan and Alabamy Home inform and change one another through Ellington’s guidance. I trace the back and forth musical exchange between Caravan and Alabamy Home through four manuscripts and five recordings dated between 1926 and 1937. An analysis of the sources pertinent to the relationship between Caravan and Alabamy Homereveal the intricacies of the creative processes in the Duke Ellington Orchestra. 

Hannah Krall is a doctoral student of historical musicology at Duke University. Her musical interests include early music and jazz improvisation, traditional jazz, and music for the viola da gamba. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Cornell University. In addition to her scholarly pursuits, Hannah is an active jazz clarinetist and saxophonist. She can be heard on The Original Cornell Syncopators’ albums, Wild Jazz and Collegiate


Jack Chambers
From 1949 until 1972, Duke Ellington assembled his band in recording studios at his own expense and produced the music known as “the stockpile.” At least 200 such studio dates survived (128 in tapes bequeathed to Radio Denmark plus 84 released before the bequest).
Ellington’s “pleasure with the imperfect” abounds in these impromptu affairs. Inquiries about a 1972 session in Toronto revealed the scuffling that produced six complete takes on Laserlight 20 years later. It began with a phone call from Ruth Ellington to Ron Collier, the Toronto composer: “Book a studio and bring some charts.” Discographies (following Timner) show a single session but there were actually two sessions five days apart; tapes from the two sessions were merged on delivery. Personnel differs from the extant list: trumpeter Arnie Chycoski, mis-identified as Fred Stone, played lead at one session while Mercer Ellington sat out, and Tyree Glenn was absent from the first but present at the second. Of the eight charts, two were Ron Collier’s: “Vancouver Lights” ended when Cootie Williams refused to play another take; it has never been released. “Relaxin’,” a blues contrasting Procope’s clarinet and Carney’s baritone, was released but mistakenly titled “Vancouver Lights” by CD producer Stanley Dance, who admitted, “When we got the boxes, it was rather confusing.” Tyree Glenn’s feature at the second session, “New York New York,” has never been listed (or released).
            These Toronto sessions were attended by a New York Timesreporter, a jazz radio broadcaster and the editor/photographer for Codamagazine (among others), but the only documentation (until now) is well-intentioned but error-filled guesswork. How many stockpile sessions are, like this one, merely best guesses? On the bright side, six tracks survived – and as Ellington always insisted, it is the music that counts.

Jack Chambers is the author of Sweet Thunder: Duke Ellington’s Music in Nine Themes (2019).His articles on Ellington have appeared in Blue Light (DESUK), IAJRC Journal,and Coda magazine.He presents annual talks to the Toronto Duke Ellington Society (since 1999) and courses and talks at University of Toronto and elsewhere. Other books include Milestones: The Music and Times of Miles Davis (1998),winner of the ASCAP-Deems Taylor award, and Bouncin’ with Bartok: The Incomplete Works of Richard Twardzik (2008).

11:00AM - BREAK

Willard Jenkins
Willard Jenkins serves as Artistic Director of the DC Jazz Festival. He has served in many capacities within the academic, arts, media and entertainment industries acting as a consultant, arts administrator, artistic director, writer, journalist, broadcaster, educator and oral historian. Willard has served as artistic director of the Tri-C JazzFest (Cleveland, OH), the BeanTown Jazz Festival (Boston, MA), Tribeca Performing Arts Center (New York, NY), and as artistic consultant to the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival (MD), 651 Arts (Brooklyn, NY), Harlem Stage/Aaron Davis Hall (New York, NY) and the Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC). He was the executive director for the National Jazz Service Organization and an administrator for Arts Midwest and the Great Lakes Arts Alliance. Willard Jenkins is also an experienced broadcaster, having served as program host and producer at WPFW-FM (Washington, DC), WWOZ-FM (New Orleans, LA), KFAI-FM (Minneapolis, MN), XM Satellite Radio and BET. He is also the author of African Rhythms, the Autobiography of Randy Weston (2010).

Marshall Keys
Panelist: Musicians' Forum — Performing Ellington
Marshall Keys is one of the most versatile saxophonists to ever come out of Washington, DC. He began his training in the DC Youth Orchestra Program and continued it in the Jazz Studies Program at Howard University. He cut his teeth playing in local bands before gaining his first professional experience with The Blackbyrds and a long association with the great blues organist Jimmy McGriff with whom he recorded the album “Countdown”. Marshall has worked with many of the world’s greatest jazz and blues musicians including: Lionel Hampton, Jimmy Heath, Clark Terry, Jimmy Witherspoon, Groove Holmes, Big Joe Turner and Hank Jones. He has worked with Branford Marsalis and Steve Allen, swung with Keter Betts and Al Grey, recorded with Cyrus Chestnut and Vinny Valentino, and jammed with Sonny Stitt and Stevie Wonder.

Sharón Clark
Sharón Clark, one of DC’s finest vocalists, has brought festival and concert audiences to their feet across the U.S. and Europe. Ms. Clark has made multiple international tours in recent years, making her debut in Israel and returning to Russia, where she has developed a major following. Her most recent release, “Do it Again — My Tribute to Shirley Horn,” is on its third printing. Ms. Clark has also won numerous awards, including New York’s Bistro Award for Best Vocalist, Gold Medal at the Savannah Music Festival's American Traditions Competition, and first place in the Billie Holiday Vocal Competition. In DC, she appears regularly at Blues Alley and Loews Madison Hotel. A featured soloist with the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, the Richmond Symphony, and the Baltimore Symphony, Clark has headlined the Duke Ellington Jazz Festival, the Cape May Jazz Festival and the Savannah Music Festival. Both the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra and The Ludacris Foundation chose Ms. Clark to perform for their separate tributes to Quincy Jones.
Janelle Gill
Janelle Gill, a pianist-bandleader from Washington DC, began her musical path at age five when, aspiring to a career as a concert pianist, she began taking piano lessons. As a middle school student, Ms. Gill was introduced to jazz by Delfeayo Marsalis during a workshop he performed at her school.  She continued her studies at the famed Duke Ellington School of the Arts under the guidance of saxophonist Davey Yarborough and Howard University under the tutelage of Dr. Raymond Jackson and Charles Covington. Ms. Gill has performed with Oliver Lake, The Blackbyrds, Delfeayo Marsalis, David Murray and many local artists such as Marshall Keys, Kenny Rittenhouse, Nasar Abadey and Will Smith. She can be heard on recordings by Kenny Rittenhouse, Mauro Marcondes, Kris Funn and Will Smith. Currently Janelle teaches piano and is working on writing and preparing music for her debut recording.

Ken Kimery
Ken Kimery is a much-revered drummer in Washington DC.  He is also Executive Director of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra and Jazz Oral History Program. He has produced over 300 concerts in Washington, D.C.; received critical acclaim from the Washington Post; been featured in Smithsonian Magazine; and awarded “Excellence in an Artistic Discipline” at the 18th Annual Mayor’s Arts Awards.


Benjamin Bierman
Duke Ellington was a composer, an arranger, a pianist, a bandleader, an entertainer, an entrepreneur, and an important public figure, all at the highest level. After his astonishing body of music, it is Ellington’s remarkable and unmatched ability to integrate these various areas of expertise in both his music and his public persona that is his greatest legacy, and it is unrivaled in modern American music. In the broadest possible sense, Duke Ellington stands alone as America’s most complete musician.
Ellington’s breadth is not unique in the history of music, however, and is reminiscent of past musical stars such as Haydn, Johann Strauss Jr., Liszt, Verdi, and Puccini. These artists were composers, instrumentalists, orchestrators, showmen, and entrepreneurs, and they were extremely prolific, leaving legacies of artistic and commercial success. They understood what the public wanted, and with very personal and artistic voices produced some of the greatest music of the day in such a way that the public clamored for their works. This accomplishment is extremely rare, and is central to Ellington’s legacy and influence.
This paper examines how Ellington, through his uniquely broad approach to music and business, maintains his lofty position at the top of the jazz canon. To this end, I consider how Duke’s unique qualities, remarkable accomplishments, and unequalled stature have influenced five important musicians – Charles Mingus, Gerald Wilson, Clark Terry, Cecil Taylor, and Quincy Jones – who have in turn created legacies of their own. All of them greatly admired Ellington, and each exemplifies his legacy and influence in a particular area of expertise. They managed to absorb much of what Duke had to offer, embrace their own abilities (and their shortcomings), and forge a unique path that builds upon the Ellington legacy.

Benjamin Bierman is Associate Professor of Music at John Jay College, CUNY. He is the author of Listening to Jazz (Oxford University Press), and has essays in The Cambridge Companion to Duke Ellington, The Routledge Companion to Jazz Studies, Pop-Culture Pedagogy in the Music Classroom, The Routledge History of Social Protest in Popular Music, Jazz Perspectives, andJournal of Jazz Studies.His compositions can be heard on his CDs, Beyond Romance and Some Takes On the Blues. As a trumpet player he has performed with such diverse artists as B.B. King, Archie Shepp, Johnny Pacheco, Johnny Copeland, and Stevie Ray Vaughan.


Tammy Kernodle
This talk will explore how Ellington and Mary Lou Williams's early experimentations with the Jazz Suite as a distinct musical genre widened the compositional and sonic aspects of jazz. It will also describe how their experimentations correlated with continued efforts to promote the notion of an American nationalistic sound. 

3:30-5:00PM - SESSION III
Nicole Higgins
Duke Ellington’s narrative impulse contributed in no small part to his mythical status in the American cultural imaginary. From the elaborate origin stories and evocative titles he crafted for the compositions credited to him, to the clever commentaries he constructed for concert stages and magazine pages, he demonstrated a clear and consistent need to tell the story of his musical work. Ellington’s careful design of these narrative frames reveal a desire not only to perform ideal representations for his audiences, but also to work through the complexities of his own lived experiences. Elevated to the impossible position of spokesperson for the Black race—on top of “genius composer”—he faced significant external and internal pressure to get the stories just right. While the scholarship devotes some attention to literature as a realm of influence to which Ellington returned repeatedly for his musical projects, comparatively little has been said about his own writerly ambitions and efforts. Invoking the work of Brett Hayes Edwards, this paper reads Music Is My Mistress as both an extra-musical platform through which Ellington performed compositional virtuosity and a striking experiment in vulnerability. Functionally read and understood as an autobiography, the book’s construction follows his characteristic resistance of easy categorization. Arranged into eight “acts” of multi-genred writing, Music Is My Mistress reveals a level of openness and honesty necessary for any such aesthetic endeavor. Even as Ellington imagined himself operating in ultimate narrative control, there are moments throughout the book which one imagines having escaped it—truths revealed which feel less heavily orchestrated and all the more resonant.

Nicole Higgins is a poet and PhD student in English at Duke University. Her research focuses on musical and sonic impulses in poetry, especially contemporary notions of the jazz poem and women’s articulations of generic conventions. She has received fellowships from Callalooand Cave Canem. Her creative work has appeared in Storyscape Journal, Sink Review, Vinyl, at the American Jazz Museum,and elsewhere.


Marilyn Lester
There’s no better way to map Duke’s world than by his own travels in the United States and beyond. This presentation details the journey of a book about Duke Ellington Riding on Duke’s Train, by Mick Carlon – from its book format to animated film. When Mick wrote the book about a young orphan boy in the South coming upon Duke Ellington’s train, and ultimately being adopted by Duke et al, he had the good fortune to create an enduring work that has itself traveled around the world, reaching an audience of enthusiastic readers far and wide. The book caught the attention of filmmaker Ken Kimmelman, who optioned Riding on Duke’s Trainto be made into an animated film. Ken and Mick adapted the book into a workable script, and then I was brought onto the project. I am a screenwriter in addition to other talents as a writer and producer. We three agreed it was important to keep creative control of the work. For the last half dozen years we’ve been seeking the funds necessary to make the film. This process has been slow, but headway has been made. Along the way the script has been submitted to a variety of national and international film festivals, winning or placing in every single one. This presentation details the process toward making the film. For those who aren’t familiar with this kind of creative process, the saga is something that should have everyone’s rapt attention. Just as Duke had his Irving Mills and the business of music to deal with, Ken, Mick and I have had to navigate the minefield the business side of movie-making!

Marilyn Lester left journalism and commercial writing behind nearly two decades ago to write plays. That branch in the road led to screenwriting, script-doctoring, dramaturgy and producing for the stage. Marilyn has also co-authored, as well as edited, books. It seemed the only world of words she hadn’t conquered was criticism, an opportunity that presented itself via Theater Pizzazz. Marilyn has since sought to widen her scope in this form of writing she especially relishes. Marilyn is a member of the Authors Guild, Dramatists Guild, Women in the Arts and Media and The League of Professional Theater Women. She is also the former Executive Director of the Duke Ellington Center for the Arts.

  • Reception and Book Spotlight featuring Attendees’ Publications


Steven Lasker
This “performance presentation” is devoted to recently-discovered/unreleased demo recordings for a show that opened on Broadway in 1946 as “Beggar’s Holiday.” There are 16 tracks in all, 13 titles, one breakdown, and two complete alternate takes. These are piano/vocal recordings. Duke is the pianist on all but two or three sides. Singers (never more than one per side) are Kay Davis, Marian Cox, Bill Dillard, and John Latouche. In addition to the music, this presentation will discuss the background behind the demo recordings (recorded by the Carnegie Hall Recording Co.), and present an unknown aircheck of “Never No Lament” from 1940 with spectacular performances from Johnny Hodges and Jimmie Blanton. The presentation will conclude by playing a record from 1960 – a pressed record with a printed label, not an aircheck – that has escaped the notice of Ellington discographers.    
Steven Lasker has collected, researched and written about Duke Ellington for many years. His “New Discoveries” presentations have been a popular feature at many past conferences.

Saturday, March 14
  • REGISTRATION and coffee: Lohrfink Auditorium lobby (GU Hariri Building) 
9:00AM-12:30PM - SESSION IV
Michele Corcella
Duke Ellington had a special bond with New Orleans culminated in the composition of the famous “New Orleans Suite”. From the very beginning of his amazing career, Ellington has always loved to surround himself with musicians raised in “the cradle of jazz”.
This paper, designed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the “New Orleans Suite,” is based on Duke Ellington’s manuscripts and has two objectives: to show how every track has a specific link with the city and is deeply imbued with the traditional New Orleans music, and to stress how it was a revolutionary work and a milestone in orchestral jazz. The opening track (Blues for New Orleans) is based on the simplest blues chord progression but it’s probably one of the most experimental tunes of the 20th century for what concerns chromaticism and jazz orchestration. Due to his complex harmonies, Ellington has always been compared to European composers such as Debussy and Stravinsky. In this paper, however, I will show how Duke stretched tonality to its limits through a complete different way: the blues as a source of not-conventional harmonies. One of the most famous tune of the suite is certainly “Portrait of Mahalia Jackson”. Ellington paid homage to the queen of gospel music transforming the orchestra in a big pipe organ. In the paper, showing the manuscript and all the details for the copyist, I will show how Duke arrived to reach this goal.
Finally, explaining how the composer avoided to write many important details such as dynamics or articulations, I will talk about the fundamental role of the copyist, the relationship between the manuscripts and the recording, and the problems of interpretation of this repertoire for both college and professional big bands.

Michele Corcella is one of the most sought-after Italian jazz composers and arrangers. Besides winning many prizes in international composition competitions, he has arranged music played by David Liebman, Kenny Wheeler, John Taylor, Norma Winstone, WDR Big Band, Enrico Pieranunzi, Glauco Venier, Mario Brunello and many others. He was one of the speakers at the last three editions of the “Duke Ellington International Conference,” which took place in Amsterdam (2014), New York (2016), and Birmingham (2018). He’s currently teaching jazz composition at the “G.B. Martini” Conservatory in Bologna and “Adriano Buzzolla” Conservatory in Adria (Italy).


Tom Reney
Tom Reney is a writer and the longtime host of Jazz à la Mode at New England Public Radio. In 2019, he was named the winner of the Marian McPartland-Willis Conover Award for Career Excellence in Broadcasting. He's lectured extensively on jazz and occasionally teaches courses in jazz history at UMass-Amherst and Mt. Holyoke College.


Darren LaCour
Many of Ellington’s extended works invoke places, such as the Liberian SuiteThe Deep South SuiteHarlemThe Far East SuiteThe New Orleans Suite, and The Latin American Suite. While the historical circumstances and resonances of those works have been treated more extensively, the events surrounding The Goutelas Suite and The UWIS Suite (two late-career suites, commercially released posthumously on 1976’s The Ellington Suites) remain obscure outside of what Ellington presents in his autobiography. The Goutelas Suite celebrates a restored chateau in the south of France where Ellington was hosted and honored in February 1966, an event that all evidence suggests had a profound and lasting impact on the composer. The UWIS Suite was written for the final concert of The Ellington Festival at the University of Wisconsin– Madison in 1972. Only Ellington had any personal encounter with Goutelas, while the full orchestra had personal experiences with the University of Wisconsin–Madison due to their week- long residency. In this paper, I contend that these separate experiences of place aurally manifest in a live recording of the two works made at the conclusion to the band’s residency at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The experience of place provides a way to view these two suites as collaborative products: the individual voices of the Ellington Orchestra have something personal to add to The UWIS Suite, while Ellington has to lead them through The Goutelas Suite. For these reasons, the orchestra provides a more powerful performance of The UWIS Suite in the live recording, but we can also hear that echo of that personal investment in the later studio renditions.

Darren LaCour teaches music theory at Lindenwood University, a small liberal-arts college west of St. Louis, MO. His writes on the music of Duke Ellington, blending close analytic discussion with critical investigations of race and culture. Dr. LaCour has presented at the annual meetings of the Society for Music Theory, the American Musicological Society, and the Society for American Music. He received a Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis in 2016. In the long term, Dr. LaCour hopes to broaden the scope of the academic music curriculum, envisioning a “music theory” that considers loops and modular composition alongside discussions of voice-leading and modulation.

11:00AM - BREAK
Bill Egan
Duke Ellington arrived in the Australasian region only a few years before his death. However, he had exerted a major influence through records, in film, and on radio, for many years before he finally arrived in 1970. This awareness, triggered initially by the arrival in 1931 of the stereotypical Amos ‘n’ Andy movie, Check and Double Check, saw his music regularly broadcast, and enthusiastically embraced by local jazz musicians. Drawing on years of research into the broad world of black entertainment, and more recently specializing in the Australasian region my presentation will offer a summary of the Ellingtonian presence in the region before Duke’s own arrival and give an overview of the band’s itinerary, covering four Australian and two New Zealand cities. This will include repertoire, personnel and related issues, as well as discussion of a mystery related to the composition Black Butterfly. A sample of music from one of the New Zealand concerts will also be presented.

Bill EganM. Sc. (Econ), is an Irish-born (1937) Australian-resident independent researcher with a lifelong interest in jazz and African American culture. He is the author of Florence Mills: Harlem Jazz Queen(Scarecrow Press, 2004), and he contributed many entries to the Encyclopedia of African American History 1896 to the Present (OUP) and the Encyclopedia of The Harlem Renaissance(Routledge). His new book African American Entertainers in Australia and New Zealand: A History, 1788–1941will appear soon with McFarland Press. A long-term member of TDES (New York), he has attended several Duke Ellington International Conferences.


Bill Saxonis
This presentation builds upon my earlier research targeting Ellington’s role in civil rights in the United States by spotlighting the challenges Ellington faced as a Black celebrity and role model during a period of rampart racism often imbedded both in social custom and law.  Ellington’s challenge demanded a delicate balance to champion civil rights while avoiding hazards that could send his career and public standing into an irreversible tailspin. Ellington would successfully meet the challenge.
            When discussing his 1941 anti-Jim Crow musical Jump for Joy, Ellington acknowledged that, from a political perspective, the racial climate would require a “real craftsman” to pull off the controversial production.  Ellington’s perception was correct for many reasons including the Glendale, California Klux Klan creating an atmosphere of violence that threatened the show’s opening. (Jump for Joywas performed at the Mayan Theater in Los Angeles for 11 weeks, 101 performances.)
            Like 1941, the year 1943 was also filled with racial tensions as Black Americans were asked to fight and die for their country in World War II, but often treated as second class citizens. Major federal civil rights legislation was still over 20 years away. In June 1943, Detroit experienced a race riot which was met by the arrival of 6,000 army troops in tanks armed with automatic weapons. Nine whites and twenty-five Black Americans died, and an estimated 700 people were injured. Nationally, in 1943 18 Black Americans were lynched.
Arguably 1943 presented a difficult environment to musically celebrate Black American history. Yet in 1943 Ellington presented his 45-minute, three movement suite, Black Brown and Beige, A Tone Parallel to the History of the American Negroat one of the world’s most prestigious venues, Carnegie Hall.  At the time, the music received mixed reviews, but history has since proven, both the event and the music, to be significant milestones. Many now consider Black Brown and Beigea masterpiece.

Bill Saxonis has a passion for music, devoting over 35 years to studying the life, times and music of Duke Ellington. He has contributed to jazz publications and prestigious forums in both Europe and the United States. Speaking appearances include the Institute for Jazz Studies (Rutgers University, Newark NJ), the University of Texas (Austin), Ellington 2008and Ellington 2012 in the UK, Ellington 2014 (Amsterdam), Ellington 2016 (New York City) and the New York State Library (Albany NY, 2019).  For the past 19 years, Bill has presented to a worldwide audience an acclaimed annual four-hour radio show celebrating the birthday of Duke Ellington (WCDB-90.9 FM). In addition to Bill’s passion for music, he is a nationally recognized expert on issues related to the regulation of the electric and gas utility industry and assessing programs designed to reduce energy consumption and pollution. Currently, Bill is an adjunct professor at the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy.


Thomas Brothers
Ranking high among Duke Ellington’s many talents was his ability to sustain a collaborative approach to composition over many years, with many different musicians, using many methods. This talk reviews this multifaceted phenomenon while arguing that creative collaboration provides the best way to understand the Ellington achievement. 

3:30-5:00PM - SESSION V

Adrian Oud & Louis Tavecchio
One of the fascinating aspects of recording a jazz session is the choice of the master take and the alternate take(s). The master take will make it to record and is considered to be the most successful representation of the ideas and intentions of the musicians, and the best performance. We would like to dwell at greater length on the matter by bringing it up as an interesting subject for debate. Or, to put it more formally, what is going on during the decision-making process of choosing between several different takes of a certain number? Is there a specific method of working / a procedure? Is it possible to discern a pattern, what are characteristic aspects and/or determining factors in the final choice?
As an important and inspiring source, we used, among others, the five volumes in the Duke Ellington World Broadcasting Series (1943 & 1945), issued by Circle Records. We arrived at some tentative conclusions which are, of course, open to debate. We will present our ideas in the form of an interactive session, in which we invite the conference attendees to participate and give their opinion

Adrian (Ad) Oud is a retired psychotherapist, living in Amsterdam. He is also a musician, who has been playing piano and tenor saxophone since age 19. An Ellington aficionado in my teens, I was privileged to be in audience when Duke played in Amsterdam and Rotterdam in the sixties. As leader and soloist of a jazz quartet, I love to play and improvise on Ellington repertoire. Being a member of the Dutch chapter of the Duke Ellington Society, I spend much time studying, reading and conducting research on Duke’s works, mostly together with Louis Tavecchio, my best friend since university.

Louis Tavecchio is a Psychologist, PhD, Professor emeritus at the University of Amsterdam. As for the ‘Ellington connection’, he was the initiator and co-organizer – with Walter van de Leur – of the 22nd Duke Ellington Study Group Conference at the Conservatory of Amsterdam in May 2014. Since February 2015, he has produced more than 100 1-hour Ellington programs, broadcast by the Dutch ‘Concertzender’ (Concert Channel). All parts in the series have been stored, so they can be listened to at any time.  Tavecchio was fortunate enough to have attended Duke’s concerts in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and The Hague, The Netherlands. As a member of the Dutch chapter of the DE Society, he spends much time reading and doing research on Duke’s music, mostly together with Ad Oud, my musical ‘compass’, and very good and dear friend since university.


David Palmquist
In collaboration with Steven Lasker and Ken Steiner, both well-known researchers of Ellington’s life and music, I have devoted the last seven years to documenting Ellington’s working life and publishing the results on (“The Duke - Where and When”). Knowing Duke’s day to day working environment and tracking his experiences, leads to a deeper understanding of the man and his music. There are many road tours I could discuss.  For this talk, I will focus on Ellington’s marathon 1951/1952 road tour, including The Biggest Show of ’51 and in the spring of 1952 (March through June), when Walla Walla  “went wild.” 
An amateur reed player, David plays in two concert bands and once a month rehearses with his Strictly Ellington rehearsal band, which he formed in 2002.  Since retiring from Canada  Revenue Agency, David has devoted his time to  chronicling Duke Ellington’s working life, expanding the body of knowledge developed by his colleagues and predecessors, as a resource for biographers, musicologists, and anyone who just wants to know more about Ellington.  As a youngster, he enjoyed playing a medley of Ellington’s music in a city-wide youth band.  Later, he was taken by the “Blue Reverie” track on the Benny Goodman Carnegie Hall album, featuring Johnny Hodges, Harry Carney and Cootie Williams and by the LPs of the “Second Sacred Concert” and “My People.”  His life changed on the way home from work one night, when he heard Ellington’s “Daybreak Express” on the CBC and immediately started buying Ellington compact discs.

Antony Pepper
Antony Pepper is a photographer based in South East England who joined DESUK at Ellington '97 in Leeds and has attended all the Study Group conferences since. He's served on the DESUK committee for 15 years and was lead organiser in London for Ellington 2008 and daytime programmer of Woking's Ellington 2012.

Michael Kilpatrick
Michael Kilpatrick is the musical director of Harmony In Harlem, a 17-piece jazz orchestra, dedicated to the music of Duke Ellington. He has been attending the Ellington Study Group conferences since 1997. And he has contributed to the performance of Ellington’s work through his meticulous creation of countless performance scores of Ellington/Strayhorn compositions. Kilpatrick has also assisted Identifying a number of untitled and previously unidentified Ellington/Strayhorn manuscripts in the Smithsonian’s collection.  

Sunny Sumter
Sunny Sumter is Executive Director of the DC Jazz Festival, a nonprofit service organization established in 2004 to present jazz-related cultural and educational programs in the nation’s capital. Its’ signature programs are the annual DC JazzFest held each June, the year-round DC Jazz Festival Education Program; and the Charles Fishman Embassy Series. DC Jazz Festival is the recipient of the 2018 DC Mayor’s Art Award for Excellence in Creative Industries. Sumter has raised over $14 million dollars for the DC Jazz Festival and has participated as a panelist in discussions on jazz funding at the WeDC JazzFest, Jazz Philadelphia Summit, and the U.S. Department of State.  Prior to her tenure at the DC Jazz Festival, Sumter held management/director positions with the Aspen Institute, National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Rhythm and Blues Foundation. 
Sumter earned her bachelor’s degree in music business from Howard University where she minored in jazz voice. She is a recipient of a Howard University Benny Golson Award, the 2018 Sitar Arts Center Visionary Award, a DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Fellowship, and a Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation Emerging Artist Award.  As a professional vocalist, Sumter has performed at some of the finest festivals, performance venues, and clubs in the U.S. and internationally. Sumter was awarded the Aspen Institute’s Staff Achievement Award for Excellence.  She was host of Jazz Central on the BETJ network. She is a member of Americans for the Arts, National Academy for the Recording Arts and Sciences, the DC Arts and Humanities Education Collaborative; and served as a program director member of the National Collaboration for Youth.

Sunday, March 15



Duke Ellington’s Songs for Sacred Concerts featuring two outstanding youth ensembles: The Mellow Tones and the Blues Alley Youth Orchestra
  • Gaston Hall (3rd floor Healy Building), Georgetown University