Duke Ellington

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yeah, in re: to finances, it's obvious he could've, at some point, just dissolved his band and just become a kind of freelance celebrity musician, and probably been a lot more successful in a business sense. have you ever read music is my mistress? i haven't and the descriptions in this new book don't make it sound very essential.

tylerw, Tuesday, 26 April 2011 18:27 (3 years ago) Permalink

One of my favorite parts of the book is describing how Ellington and Irving Mill quite consciously marketed him as a "genius" and a composer as much as a band leader and recording artist, which bought Duke the time and leeway to become a genius composer. They were incredibly clever about balancing showbiz concerns with high art, making the pressures complement each other, rather than being in opposition.

I listen to late Ellington more than the early Ellington at this point. That podcast hits upon a lot of my favorite tracks- Ocht O'Clock, Ad Lib in Nippon, Blood Count. I've never heard the ballet they mention.

bendy, Tuesday, 26 April 2011 18:28 (3 years ago) Permalink

yeah! i mean, obviously, duke had the talent to back up the "genius" claim, but it was fascinating how early him and mills were pushing that aspect.

tylerw, Tuesday, 26 April 2011 18:31 (3 years ago) Permalink

and i agree, the late ellington is what is really doing it for me these days. kind of want to put together a one-disc duke ellington in the 70s comp. don't have everything though!

tylerw, Tuesday, 26 April 2011 18:32 (3 years ago) Permalink

I listen to late Ellington more than the early Ellington at this point. That podcast hits upon a lot of my favorite tracks- Ocht O'Clock, Ad Lib in Nippon, Blood Count. I've never heard the ballet they mention.

It ("The River") is on The Private Collection, Vol. 5. It's brilliant and fascinating, and also contains the germ of what would later become "Portrait Of Mahalia Jackson" (from The New Orleans Suite), one of his most heartbreaking themes.

Funky Mustard (People It's Bad) (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Tuesday, 26 April 2011 18:40 (3 years ago) Permalink

^^^yeah, the river is amazing.

tylerw, Tuesday, 26 April 2011 18:42 (3 years ago) Permalink

anyone heard this one? live trio recorded in 72.

tylerw, Tuesday, 26 April 2011 18:47 (3 years ago) Permalink

yeah, in re: to finances, it's obvious he could've, at some point, just dissolved his band and just become a kind of freelance celebrity musician, and probably been a lot more successful in a business sense. have you ever read music is my mistress? i haven't and the descriptions in this new book don't make it sound very essential.

True about how he could've otherwise dealt with his financial situation, but with his band as his instrument, he would have probably felt somewhat adrift and unfulfilled.

I've read MIMM, and it's kind of goofy and all over the place. It's not chronological, and one chapter is usually a non-sequitur to the previous chapter (i.e., Chapter 4: Louis Bellson was a great drummer! Chapter 5: I really enjoy a good steak!) I mean, it's a fun read, kind of like going to dinner with Duke and listening to him talk for about six hours. But it's not the least bit revealing, unless you count an exact account of every single restaurant meal he ever ate in his entire life.

Funky Mustard (People It's Bad) (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Tuesday, 26 April 2011 18:53 (3 years ago) Permalink

ha, well, that does sound kind of good. my library's got it, so i'll probably get around to it sometime soon.

tylerw, Tuesday, 26 April 2011 19:09 (3 years ago) Permalink

The Whitney gig is a lot of fun; he plays some of his earliest material (and laughs with the audience about him being unable to play it now). Reminds me of James Booker just hanging out and reeling off medleys.

In the Uncommon Market has more trio stuff which I love.

Brakhage, Tuesday, 26 April 2011 20:23 (3 years ago) Permalink

wow, never even heard of that one. looks like a cool set, though. amazing how much ellington there is!

tylerw, Tuesday, 26 April 2011 20:25 (3 years ago) Permalink

It's not well known, but it's on iTunes and it's got a bunch of great live performances from the early sixties. The trio bits are recorded in this Italian garden, I think, so there's tons of crickets etc, which sounds awful but it's really magical.

Brakhage, Tuesday, 26 April 2011 20:34 (3 years ago) Permalink

actually, I love all the room noise in his 60s recordings- he had a lot more open space in his work, and with recording fidelity improving there's cool little details. Like the guy going "dink-da-dink-dink" in between the call and response on "Limbo Jazz"

bendy, Tuesday, 26 April 2011 20:59 (3 years ago) Permalink

3 weeks pass...

eesh, didn't even know this was happening. mosaic, y u so expensive

The Definitive Songs. The Definitive Orchestra. And Now...
The DEFINITIVE Edition.
The Complete 1932-1940 Brunswick, Columbia, and Master Recordings of
Duke Ellington and His Famous Orchestra

After achieving youthful acclaim in Washington, and making a successful move to New York fronting (at first) small groups, Duke Ellington entered the 1930s with an expanded line-up and an increasingly creative approach to composing. Weekly radio broadcasts and swank guests in the audience spread the word; Hollywood noticed his marquee smile and musical brilliance; and the orchestra began touring extensively, including trips to Europe. His fame and popularity were on the rise.

But more importantly, Ellington entered the '30s having perfected his method of using the group to experiment with arranging and orchestrating. Ensconced at the Cotton Club in New York at the end of the previous decade, Ellington catered to a lot of musical interests and needs - he played for the dancers, and for the jazz lovers. He relied on ideas from his musicians, and wrote for them as individuals rather than as anonymous section players. With all that work and a line-up of marvelous, distinctive musical voices, Ellington began the most creative period of his life.

"Sophisticated Lady." "Stormy Weather." "Solitude." "In a Sentimental Mood." "Echoes of Harlem." "Caravan." All of them and many more are a part of "The Complete 1932-1940 Brunswick, Columbia, and Master Recordings of Duke Ellington and His Famous Orchestra," an unprecedented 11-CD set that compiles these recordings for the first, and quite possibly the last, time. There would be many more exceptional compositions in the years following, including his highly regarded suites and longer works, but the scope of our latest, lavish Mosaic collection is the period when Ellington would establish himself as the most important composer ever in jazz.

Musicians Created Their Own Voices, and Interpreted His

"Jazz, if it means anything, means freedom of expression," he told writer Stanley Dance. And express himself is what he did, through the instruments of stalwarts and newcomers to the orchestra who not only created personality for Ellington's band - they were, in many instances, standard bearers in their own right for their respective instruments.

Barney Bigard on clarinet and tenor saxophone established links to the past with his New Orleans-style runs, executed with exceptional warmth. Harry Carney was the only important soloist on baritone saxophone for years, and the big bottom his instrument provided brought real gravity to the Ellington sound. The great trumpeter Cootie Williams joined to replace the fallen Bubber Miley, quickly perfecting Miley's growl and mute techniques while creating his own sound with the open horn. He was a master of establishing mood and emotion. Lawrence Brown had a ringing tone on trombone, which complemented Joe "Tricky Sam" Nanton's earthy growl and Juan Tizol's fat sound. Trumpeter Arthur Whetsel, saxophonist Otto Hardwick, and the inimitable Sonny Greer on drums were all associates from the earliest days in Washington. Ben Webster began perfecting his tenor saxophone style during a brief mid-'30s stint with the band before being offered a permanent position in 1940. Late in the decade, Ellington discovered Jimmy Blanton, who would revolutionize bass playing with his terrific sense of swing and dead-on intonation before illness led to a tragically early death. And what can be said about Johnny Hodges, the silky smooth alto saxophonist who influenced generations of musicians? He was, in a line-up of superstars, a cut above all.

Ellington made use of them all, for their personal styles as well as for his own unique voicings that placed trombones at the apex of their range and clarinets at the bottom, or by putting unusual notes in the baritone instead of giving the instrument the chord's dominant tone. His compositions, the unique personal style of his players, his innovative arrangements, and his confidence in his soloists to raise any composition to a new level, combined to provide him with a palette unequaled in music.

The Complete Collection

Our set comprises a massive 11 discs featuring well over 100 Ellington compositions. In addition to the above-named musicians, guest stars Bing Crosby, Ethel Waters and the Mills Brothers make notable appearances. Ellington's female vocalist Ivie Anderson proves she was tailor-made for the band along with other superb band-mates Freddie Jenkins and Wallace Jones on trumpet, Fred Guy on banjo and guitar, Wellman Braud, Billy Taylor and Hayes Alvis on bass, and the unique cornetist Rex Stewart.

The exclusive Mosaic booklet includes a complete discography of the dates, a revealing essay and track by track analysis by Steven Lasker, and a number of rarely seen photographs. We urge you to order early - like all Mosaic sets, this edition is strictly limited, and given the importance of the music it contains, we're expecting significant interest.

tylerw, Tuesday, 17 May 2011 21:28 (3 years ago) Permalink

9 months pass...

RIP Kay Davis, Ellington vocalist

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/23/arts/music/kay-davis-91-dies-ellington-used-her-voice-as-instrument.html?_r=1

tylerw, Thursday, 23 February 2012 15:54 (2 years ago) Permalink

RIP.

Did anyone read that book from last year Ellington's America or whatever it was called?

Can You Please POLL Out Your Window? (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 23 February 2012 15:58 (2 years ago) Permalink

Yeah, I read it, it was great -- a little discussion of it upthread. One of the rare autobios where I came out of it with even more respect for the subject. He wasn't a saint, but it seems like he lived his life in a generally admirable way. For a genius anyway.

tylerw, Thursday, 23 February 2012 16:01 (2 years ago) Permalink

Sad news. Always loved the '44 "Creole Love Call." Had no idea she was from my hometown (or that that's where Duke discovered her).

Let A Man Come In And Do The Cop Porn (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Thursday, 23 February 2012 16:03 (2 years ago) Permalink

Yeah she was great -- not really what people think of when they think "jazz vocalist" but Duke used her well in a lot of songs.
btw i made this spotify playlist of Duke in the 1970s - lots of cool stuff! http://open.spotify.com/user/tywilc/playlist/3KNtFDxQE5BBi9fCvNK5m6

tylerw, Thursday, 23 February 2012 16:04 (2 years ago) Permalink

RIP Kay Davis.

Nice playlist, Tyler! Thanks for the reminder to order a copy of Live at the Whitney, I need that.

Brad C., Thursday, 23 February 2012 16:26 (2 years ago) Permalink

yeah, i have this thread to thank for letting me know about the whitney gig -- it is really fun. that duet discs with ray brown is rad too.

tylerw, Thursday, 23 February 2012 16:28 (2 years ago) Permalink

"The three greatest composers are Bach, Delius and Duke Ellington"

--Percy Grainger

(just came across this quote in Bernard Herrmann's biography)

Axolotl with an Atlatl (Jon Lewis), Thursday, 23 February 2012 17:14 (2 years ago) Permalink

hee hee... Delius is like "who, me?"
Speaking of Ellington in the 70s - just saw this:
Duke Ellington Concert
Municipal Auditorium New Orleans (New Orleans, LA) Apr 24, 1970
http://www.wolfgangsvault.com/duke-ellington/concerts/municipal-auditorium-new-orleans-april-24-1970.html

tylerw, Friday, 24 February 2012 16:29 (2 years ago) Permalink

Was just about to post that! Can't wait to listen. It seems a bit short and heavy on the standbys, but I guess that's to be expected.

Let A Man Come In And Do The Cop Porn (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Friday, 24 February 2012 16:31 (2 years ago) Permalink

yeah, festival date, crowd-pleasing mode. but those can be the best when it comes to duke.

tylerw, Friday, 24 February 2012 16:40 (2 years ago) Permalink

2 months pass...

Happy 113th, Duke! WCKR birthday broadcast here.

Tarfumes The Escape Goat, Sunday, 29 April 2012 16:16 (2 years ago) Permalink

Thanks for the tip. Happy Birthday, Duke!

Stars on 45 Fell on Alabama (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 29 April 2012 18:31 (2 years ago) Permalink

happy b-day! here he is 50 years ago

tylerw, Sunday, 29 April 2012 19:17 (2 years ago) Permalink

Nice!

Tarfumes The Escape Goat, Sunday, 29 April 2012 19:34 (2 years ago) Permalink

9 months pass...

Don't know why it took me a decade to get around to watching Ken Burns' Jazz doc, but there was a fascinating bit about Duke composing the ambitious but melancholy 13 minute "Reminiscing In Tempo" after his mother's passing in 1935. Critics savaged it at the time, but it sounds like a groundbreaking masterpiece. The version I found, however, from a 9 disc Complete Brunswick, Columbia and Master sounds like crap, recorded off a scratchy 78. Anyone know the best version? I'm guessing it's the Best of 1932-39, as it was restored by Harry Coster from the Dutch Jazz Archive. Ironically Sony released the budget priced set just in 2008, but it's already sold out and now fetching prices over $75. Trade, anyone?

The Best of Duke Ellington: 1932-1939 [4CD]
Masterpieces 1926-1949 [4CD]
Reminiscing In Tempo (1991 comp)

Fastnbulbous, Friday, 15 February 2013 03:25 (1 year ago) Permalink

Further reading says the version I have is actually from the 11 disc Mosaic set, The Complete 1932-1940 Brunswick,Columbia and Master Recordings of Duke Ellington and His Famous Orchestra, and it's supposed to be the best. That can't be right!

Fastnbulbous, Friday, 15 February 2013 03:59 (1 year ago) Permalink

Sadly, that's probably the case. I haven't heard, or heard of, a single instance of any Mosaic set having anything less than stellar mastering from the best available sources.

Tarfumes The Escape Goat, Friday, 15 February 2013 14:43 (1 year ago) Permalink

Had never heard this one (but there's tons of Ellingtom I haven't heard). This original 78 sounds really nice!

Nataly Dawn's echoey swamp sound (Dan Peterson), Friday, 15 February 2013 15:33 (1 year ago) Permalink

5 months pass...

Recently picked up the 1940 Fargo live set (recently reissued after being out of print for a couple of years).

Holy fucking shit. This is incredible. For one thing, the sound quality easily equals or bests that of the studio recordings from the early 40s. But more than any other Ellington record, even better-recorded later live records, this gives the clearest impression of what it must have been like to hear this incredible orchestra live.

Shart Week (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Saturday, 10 August 2013 23:00 (1 year ago) Permalink

1 month passes...

Duke Ellington played Afghanistan 50 years ago this week:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-24165743

More background on his 1963 State Department tour, including video of one of his Baghdad shows:
http://ehsankhoshbakht.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/DukeIran.html

punt cased (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Saturday, 21 September 2013 00:50 (11 months ago) Permalink

nice!

tylerw, Saturday, 21 September 2013 02:47 (11 months ago) Permalink

Whoa, is the Ben Williams posting upthread (ten years ago) the jazz bassist?

#fomo that's the motto (Hurting 2), Saturday, 21 September 2013 03:47 (11 months ago) Permalink

1 month passes...

Terry Teachout's latest book is Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington. He's making the book talk rounds for this. Teachout is criticized by some for his neo-con politics (I recall Christgau mixing praise and criticism in his take on Teachout's Louis Armstrong book)

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 5 November 2013 19:56 (10 months ago) Permalink

National Review interview!

LOPEZ: How could music be Ellington’s mistress, as the saying goes, when the man appears to have had so many mistresses? Did a lack of discipline hurt both his personal and professional life?

TEACHOUT: I don’t know whether that question is answerable. He was, after all, a hugely prolific composer who left behind a considerable number of masterpieces, so he must have been doing something right. But we can’t know how many more he might have written had he not diverted so much of his time and energy into the pursuit of women — though it’s also important to remember that he believed this pursuit to be musically inspirational.

http://www.nationalreview.com/node/362692/print

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 5 November 2013 20:26 (10 months ago) Permalink

I'll be skipping this one. Teachout wrote an awful essay that largely dismissed Ellington's longer works, and Ellington as a composer, as inadequate for not utilizing the formalized tools of "classical music" that his music shouldn't have aspired to anyway.

Also, Christgau otm re: Teachout's politics.
http://bnreview.barnesandnoble.com/t5/Rock-Roll/Pops-as-Pop/ba-p/2578

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Tuesday, 5 November 2013 20:46 (10 months ago) Permalink

ugh:

LOPEZ: One of the “peculiarities” of Duke Ellington’s career, you write, is that “he was a major composer but not an influential one.” Why is that? How does that happen?

TEACHOUT: He wrote great music, but his techniques were so intensely personal and unique unto himself that they were for all intents and purposes inimitable. Hence he didn’t influence anybody — all that other artists could do was play his songs in their own ways.

Does Teachout even know what the word "influential" means?

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Tuesday, 5 November 2013 20:50 (10 months ago) Permalink

The idea that Ellington wasn't (and isn't) widely imitated is just .... strange

Brad C., Tuesday, 5 November 2013 20:56 (10 months ago) Permalink

um hello mingus?

#fomo that's the motto (Hurting 2), Tuesday, 5 November 2013 21:01 (10 months ago) Permalink

just think what Ellington could have accomplished if he had had as little sex as Teachout

Brad C., Tuesday, 5 November 2013 21:03 (10 months ago) Permalink

brad c with the sick burn

#fomo that's the motto (Hurting 2), Tuesday, 5 November 2013 21:08 (10 months ago) Permalink

Megalol @ that not influential bs

Ayn Rand Akbar (Shakey Mo Collier), Tuesday, 5 November 2013 21:17 (10 months ago) Permalink

The pr hype for the book says on the longlist for the 2013 National Book Award for nonfiction.

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 5 November 2013 21:53 (10 months ago) Permalink

Brad C., Tuesday, 5 November 2013 23:42 (10 months ago) Permalink

On the Money Jungle tip, here's Ellington playing Fleurette Africain solo

Øystein, Wednesday, 6 November 2013 13:26 (10 months ago) Permalink

1 month passes...

reading the teachout book now -- lots of good stuff in it for sure, but yeah, he does have some fairly wacky ideas about ellington's music and influence. and he gets pretty judgy mcjudgerson about ellington's personal life.

tylerw, Friday, 3 January 2014 18:27 (8 months ago) Permalink


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