Monday, September 15, 2014

Solo Responsibilities...

Must I Fight City Hall?

Sights and sounds from New York City Hall. Forty five years ago today, a reception was held for Duke Ellington. Video footage from the event is posted below.

And from the same venue, some four years earlier, another civic reception in sound only.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Ring Dobell's

Gone are the days when Saturday mornings might be spent browsing the local record shop. (Picture above, the famous Dobell's Record Shop in London).

The death knell was sounded, I suppose, by the internet and rummaging around recently on Spotify, it's not difficult to see why. 

There must be every album imaginable by every major artist available : everything the casual listener could want.

Scratch the surface, though - particularly for any music recorded fifty years or more ago, and one is confronted with a plethora of 'grey area', mis-labelled mis-catalogued recordings, the provenance of much of which is unknown. 

And for the listener whose attitude is less than casual, the catalogue does not run particularly deep. 

However, I've posted a selection of Spoti-fied albums from Duke's late period in the panel to the right.

Do browse the racks. If you haven't joined Spotify, you'll be prompted to do so by clicking on the links and you will have to download the Spotify gizmo. There's always a price to pay, of course: the music is interrupted by 'a word from our sponsor' between tracks, unless you choose to pay for an 'upgrade'. It gets the music out there - and legitimately so - that's the main thing. 

Feedback welcome via the 'Comments' section.

Friday, September 12, 2014

La Douceur du Tonnerre

In 1960, Joachim-Ernst Brendt heard Duke Ellington's album Such Sweet Thunder and convinced choreographer Maurice Béjart to stage the album as a ballet. La Douceur du Tonnerre was performed in the television studios of Südwestfunk, Baden-Baden and broadcast originally on 12 September, 1960.

Fifty-four years to the day, here is a video recording of that kinescope which originated with the splendid Crownpropeller's blog.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

... the Plaza, man

One of the rarest Ellington albums on the Columbia label is Jazz At the Plaza Volume II. The recording remained unreleased, I think, until the 1970s. Whilst what is essentially a needle drop of the album appeared in France in the eighties, the recording has never been released on compact disc in Duke's native USA.

It still hasn't but on 22 October, it is being released by Sony Japan who - one presumes - will have access to the master tapes. The CBS France release is, in any event, long out of print so this is an exciting release. It is a limited edition - available only until December 2015. It costs 1 000¥ - or about a fiver. Shipping costs are another issue, of course - but a desirable item for the Ellington aficionado nevertheless. Details from CDJapan here.

Sunday, September 7, 2014


Maison du Duke, the Ellington study group which headquarters in Paris, have just released a CD of hitherto unreleased performances by Duke Ellington and his Orchestra themed around les girls!

The disc comprises a medley with Ella Fitzgerald in 1959, the first performance of The Girls' Suite, the studio recording of which is rare enough, a couple of numbers where the orchestra accompanies Dinah Washington, from 1961, Jam With Sam from 1963 and a performance of Toot Suite from 1959.

This is the fourth CD of material issued by Maison du Duke, all from the Clavié collection, purchased by the organisation. It is available exclusively as a free gift for 'adhérents', those who sign up for membership for twelve months. Full details here. Add 5 euros in the 'make a donation' box to receive the CD. I renewed membership Sunday last and the CD was with me by Tuesday.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

La Plus Belle...

William Greaves, TV host and documentary film maker, has died at the age of 87. From the Yahoo News item:

"In 1966, at the request of the United States Information Agency, he traveled to Senegal and filmed the First World Festival of Negro Arts, which featured Duke Ellington and Langston Hughes, among others."

Here is an extract from Greaves's documentary on Festival Mundial de Arte Negra: