DUKE ELLINGTON MUSIC SOCIETY
02/1 April-July 2002
FOUNDER: BENNY AASLAND
Voort 18b, Meerle, Belgium
Telephone: +32 3 315 75 83
Wendell Marshall, who played bass with Duke Ellington from Sep48 until 2Jan55 (with a short interruption in Feb53), died on 6Feb at his home in St. Louis. He was 81.
The cause was cancer, said his daughter Joan M. Marshall.
Wendell Lewis Marshall was a first cousin of the famed Jimmie Blanton, who was a star with the Ellington orchestra. Influenced by Jimmie's work , Wendell began playing bass professionally in the late 1930's with local bands in St. Louis. After Junior Raglin and Oscar Pettiford replaced Jimmie Blanton, Wendell brought back Jimmie's instrument, which he had inherited, in the Ellington aggregation.
Wendell can be heard to advantage on Duet (1951), which he shared with clarinettist Jimmy Hamilton; on Ellington's 1953 trio album, "Piano Reflections", and on his solo feature, She Wouldn't Be Moved.
He can be seen on screen in the pictures "Symphony in Swing", "Salute to Duke Ellington" and in the 1952 Snader Transcriptions.
After his stint with the Ellington orchestra, where he was succeeded by Jimmy Woode, he recorded with many top jazz artists of his era, including Ella Fitzgerald, Mary Lou Williams, Ray Charles, Coleman Hawkins and Dizzy Gillespie. In all, Wendell Marshall appeared on more than 150 albums, said Patricia Willard.
After leaving Ellington, Wendell played in the orchestras of a number of Broadway shows, including "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" and "Fiddler on the Roof".
In 1970 he started an insurance business in St. Louis. At the time of his death Wendell was the senior surviving instrumentalist of the Ellington orchestra.
He was a Honorary Member of TDES for more than 30 years.
Wendell Marshall was divorced from the former Yvonne Fairbanks. In addition to Joan Marshall, of Mount Vernon, N.Y., he is survived by two daughters, Cynthia A. Marshall of Queens and Carol E. Pettus of St. Louis, and two grandsons.
(Sources: Patricia Willard; New York Times, 17Feb02; and Newsletter TDES NY, Mar02) DEMS
On 12Mar02, the diploma of the degree of Doctor in Musicology at the University of Amsterdam was presented to Walter van de Leur. His dissertation was almost identical to his recently published book "Something To Live For". One of the "opponents" was Billy Strayhorn's nephew Professor Gregory Morris, Ph.D., who came from the USA especially for this occasion. There was a large attendance in the beautiful ancient Lutheran Church, which is used as the auditorium of the University. There were interesting questions brought forward for Walter to comment on. One of these, the relationship between score and recording, has been subject of discussion on Duke-Lym in the past. Isn't it the case that in jazz music the recording is more important than the score? In his answer to another question, Walter emphasised that his dissertation was not a biography or an attempt to compare Duke Ellington with Billy Strayhorn as composers, although it was inevitable that some aspects of these issues were raised in his work. Walter said that before he read David Hajdu's book, he had the impression that Billy's music itself was more or less an autobiography.
Walter was asked, did he believe that it would be possible to programme a computer to distinguish between the scores written by Duke and those by Billy? His answer was no. There was some discussion about authorship related to arrangement. In classical music, it is customary to credit a work to the original composer even if it is re-written by others.
There was a discussion about the difference between Duke and Billy being absolute or only occasional. Walter went a very long way in his claim that he was able to distinguish between both composers, even if it only concerned some minor parts in a score. Some of the arguments did not seem to be scientifically very objective in my opinion. Speaking of the so-called "third stream", one of the opponents found Billy's works much more lively and fresh than those of Gil Evans or John Lewis. At another point Walter explained that he prefers compositions with several themes, combined and through composed, to single-themed compositions. He was not very impressed with Duke's way of jumping from one musical idea to another. On page 111 of his book Walter is even more explicit: "While Duke's adaptations of Strayhorn's arrangements still result in acceptable music, the damage caused by cut or reshuffled sections in more personal Strayhorn originals is definitely greater." This is in my humble opinion a matter of taste. My taste differs apparently from Walter's, but that does not diminish my great respect and admiration for his work. By the way, my friend Gunther Schuller agrees with Walter, see Walter's book page 59, when Gunther speaks of Strayhorn's and Ellington's "inability to develop material compositionally beyond the vignette or cameo stage". I do not believe that Duke didn't know how to develop a theme. I believe that he preferred (like I do) to listen to a "fresh" idea instead of a repetition of the same theme in many different stages of development. That must have been the reason that Duke adapted Strayhorn's work before it arrived on our turntables, which made it so difficult for us to hear the differences between Duke's and Billy's work.
Another statement in Walter's book which I think is rather speculative is on page 87: "Strayhorn had to pay a price for being on Ellington's team: his contributions often remained unknown to the larger audience." I wonder how much more his work would have been known if he had not joined the Ellington aggregation. I even wonder if Walter would have chosen Billy Strayhorn's work as the subject of his dissertation. I am very happy that he did. He has certainly made a great contribution to the growing fame Billy has enjoyed posthumously, and that is good. His book is really terrific. It solves all the problems of those who are eager to know who wrote what. Walter's degree ceremony itself was impressive. It was followed by a concert by the Dutch Jazz Orchestra. This was given in a nearby small circular concert hall better suited for a small ensemble, as became apparent when Rob van Bavel played a masterful piano solo titled Sprite Music, and when he accompanied Marjorie Barnes in two songs with lyrics by Garcia Lorca, The Flowers Die of Love and Love, Love. The whole one hour concert, but especially these three beautiful compositions, proved beyond any doubt that Billy was a great composer and a very different one from Ellington. All the selections of this concert are included in the 4 CD box (see 02/1-22/2, 3, 4 and 5) which was presented to Gregory Morris and Mrs Peavy from the US Embassy during a short intermission. The whole day (blessed with fine weather) was a huge success. I am grateful for Walter's invitation and I congratulate him sincerely on his well-deserved elevation to this degree. Sjef Hoefsmit
2002 starts with the release of a major new work by Walter van de Leur (see DEMS 01/3-1).
I just picked up my copy and I have only read about 45 pages of this fascinating book so far. Mr. Van de Leur has studied the existing scores of Strayhorn, and offers a very technical analysis, but don't be deterred from reading it if you don't have an advanced knowledge of music theory the book reads very well, but slowly because it is very filled with information and analysis, and it will likely send you to your record collection or piano as you read.
The author's focus is an analysis of Strayhorn's work, with a minimal amount of information on Strayhorn's personal life. Mr. Van de Leur does seem to seek to enhance Strayhorn's status, but he is not preachy, and his thesis is supported by his analysis of the hard evidence the written sheet music and recordings.
Some may think that by exalting Strayhorn, Ellington is being diminished. Such is not the case. The inclusion of the genius of Billy Strayhorn in the world of Ellington is simply more evidence of the greatness of Ellington.
I highly recommend "Something To Live For". Ken Steiner
Maurice Peress reports in the February TDES Newsletter that he is preparing this book for Oxford University Press. Three chapters will be devoted to his work with Ellington and particularly Duke's masterpiece "Black, Brown and Beige."
In an e-mail message to Lena Ellington on 29Jan00, Maurice reported that the book went to Oxford Press "last week". We hope that the publisher will not "sit" on the manuscript much longer (as Maurice Peress described the publisher 's activity during the waiting period in DEMS 00/3-9/2). DEMS
This broadcast is mentioned in Klaus Stratemann p.166 and in Ken Vail's Diary p.196, but no specifics are given.
I found on an E-bay auction last year an acetate with a recording of Flamingo by the Ellington orchestra with Herb Jeffries, which originates from this broadcast.
Floyd G. Nelson wrote in the New York Age column "Harlem": "Congrats to the National Urban League, and the star studded program over the nationwide hookup on the CBS Sunday (30Mar41) .This was the first full hour, all-colored radio program, with the most outstanding negro stars of the country participating, and should long be remembered. ( .) Orchids to the stars, who contributed their talents . Louis (Satchmo) Armstrong, John Kirby, Ethel Waters, Duke Ellington, Eddie (Rochester) Anderson, Canada Lee, Eddie Green, Jimmy Baskette, Eddie South, Bill (Bojangles) Robinson, Edward Matthews, Joe Louis, Marian Anderson, Troy Gorhum .to Edward Lawson, director, and speakers: Elmer Carter, Hubert Delany, John P. Dancey, Charles Poletti, Eugene K. Jones ( .)"
According to Anthony Barnett (Black Gypsy: The Recordings of Eddie South, p.53), the original CBS line ET is found in the CBS collection at the Library of Congress (LC ref. LWO 6736 R13B4-14A7), but when he asked CBS for permission to copy the broadcast, permission was refused. Steven Lasker
In 1990 I found in a used record store in L.A. a 12" acetate aircheck with this broadcast. I gave the disc to Jerry Valburn and I suppose that it is now in the Library of Congress. These are the titles: San Fernando Valley; Perdido; My Little Brown Book; Hop, Skip and Jump (nc); Ring Dem Bells; Now I Know and Mood To Be Wooed. Steven Lasker
Steven has sent me a copy of this broadcast. I checked it. Each selection is "fresh", not included in the New DESOR. The same 7 selections with the same date are found in the Timme Rosenkrantz collection at the Danish Jazz Center at R nnende on the acetates numbered T-8-A and T-7-A.
The music is fabulous. Steven generously gave me permission to use this broadcast for a future DEMS cassette. Sjef Hoefsmit
In the early 1960s the Goodyear Tyre Co. commissioned five jazz films (one of which featured the Duke Ellington Orchestra) and the soundtracks were issued on an LP. I remember having to go to a filling station in Manchester U.K. to buy a copy. Three of these colour films have recently been re-issued by Storyville Videos under the title of Jazz Festival Vol. 2. SV 6074. The programme recorded on 9Jan62 contains several gems. It opens with Take the "A" Train with Ray Nance playing his classic solo. Paul Gonsalves and Johnny Hodges respectively feature on Blow by Blow and Things Ain't What They Used To Be. VIP's Boogie/Jam with Sam are showcases for the band's phenomenal soloists and just about everyone in the band has an opportunity, including a sparkling solo from Shorty Baker. The video also contains sets by the Mike Bryan Sextet featuring Georgie Auld and the Bobby Hackett Sextet with classic contributions from the likes of Bob Wilber, Urbie Green, Dave McKenna and, of course, Bobby Hackett himself. The video is available from Acorn Music tel: 0044(0)2076199111, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Frank Rutherford
Goodyear also issued a promotional LP for their customers. I got one, being in the tyre business in those days. It was called 'Jazz Concert' and is on the Goodyear label. Volume 1 'Original soundtrack from Goodyear Jazz Concert Motion Picture Series'. One side was DE, the other Bobby Hackett. Michael Palmer
The Goodyear LP (produced by the CBS Records Special Products Division) was released in 1962 and was for a long time the only release of this recording. Storyville released the soundtracks in a series of LPs in the late 70s. (See Klaus Stratemann p.450). In 1986 Ellington's concert was released on a Storyville CD Masters of Jazz Vol. 6. In 1988 Storyville released a video tape (SV 3002) with only Ellington's contribution as The Goodyears of Jazz Vol. 2. DEMS
The video shows the band in action all right, but in a very antiseptic and uninspiring setting (the set looks like a hospital operating theatre). And then there is Duke side saddle at the piano grinning for the camera. I hate that. It sent me scurrying to find my favourite Duke video "Memories of Duke" from 1968. Loose and warm music in a fabulous setting. Keith Richardson
There is a new PBS documentary "Willie the Lion." The film, produced by faculty member and four-time Emmy Award winner Marc Fields, is a musical biography of Harlem legend Willie "the Lion" Smith, whose imaginative piano techniques influenced generations of jazz musicians but failed to win him much recognition outside the music community. Bill Saxonis
It's the fifth "film" (video) of producer Marc Fields (a relative of songwriter Dorothy Fields), and was created for New Jersey Public Television, where he used to work (he's now a teacher in Concord, MA). It's being distributed in the USA not by PBS (Public Broadcasting Service), but by the much smaller consortium known as American Public Television.
The documentary runs 57 minutes, and includes footage from a variety of sources. There is a good mix of music-making and talking by The Lion, Ellington, Billy Taylor, Mike Lipskin, Brooks Kerr, and others. I felt the show did not condescend to its audience, and overall acquitted itself strongly. John Edward Hasse
See DEMS 01/2-10 (centre of right column)
To explain the problem with the time for the 2Nov69 concert, I just want to say that it is listed in one brochure as 123 min (= 2 hours and 3 minutes) but in fact should have been listed as 1 hr 23 min (= 83 minutes). I am sure you can see how this mistake happened without further comments. Karl Emil Knudsen
In order to reach more Ellington collectors in the world and to make it easier and less expensive for those who prefer the Internet to a printed Bulletin, we decided to accept gratefully Peter MacHare's offer to publish the Bulletins on his web-site, A Duke Ellington Panorama with the address: www.depanorama.net. You can expect to find this Bulletin online early in June.
We hope that as soon as you decide to cancel your DEMS membership and to switch over to the Internet edition of the Bulletin, you will notify us so that we can delete your name from the mailing list. We will then send you a report of your DEMS account and we will ask you to settle it if it is negative, or we will offer to send your money back if it is positive.
We will try to continue to print the Bulletin for DEMS members. It is possible that we have to decrease the number of free subscriptions and that we will have to increase the donation we ask our members to pay each year, if the number of members goes down too drastically. It should also be made clear that only DEMS members can order Azure cassettes or other releases for reasons related to copyright.
It is obvious that in the future, when everybody has an Internet connection, printing and mailing the Bulletin will no longer make sense. We are now facing a transitional period in which we have to take care of members without an Internet connection (as we promised in Bulletin 98/1-19). We hope to be able to continue doing that until the moment comes when everybody has switched over to A Duke Ellington Panorama to pick up the latest edition of the Bulletin. We sincerely hope (and we will support this wholeheartedly) that when that time comes, there will be others who will take over the preparation of the Bulletin or whatever name it will have at that time. They will be freed from the burden of having to print and to mail the Bulletins and they can with support of many Ellington collectors in the world concentrate on continuing Benny Aasland's 1979 initiative as long as there are questions to be asked, answers to be given, and important news to be circulated. It must be said that the growing number of new and young Ellington collectors makes us believe that this is not only possible but also highly desirable. DEMS
01/3-8/1 (twice): The correct name is Rob Bamberger, not Bob. Carl Hällström
01/3-8/2: The correct name is Gertude Niesen, not Nielsen. Carl Hällström
01/3-15/2 middle of second paragraph: Star-Crossed Lovers is recorded 3May57 and not 3May56. DEMS
01/3-20/Q6: The 4th and 5th should read the 6th and the 7th. Sjef Hoefsmit
NOTE: These typing errors have been corrected in past online issues - Peter MacHare (jun 2003).