DUKE ELLINGTON MUSIC SOCIETY
10/3 December 2010 - March 2011
Our 32nd Year of Publication
FOUNDER: BENNY AASLAND
Voort 18b, 2328 Meerle, Belgium
Telephone: +32 3 315 75 83
The legendary jazz radio host Dick Buckley died on 22Jul10. He passed away at West Suburban Medical Center in Oak Park, Chicago. Buckley was a jazz host with WBEZ for more than three decades. Dick helped his friend Don Miller to organize the 1984 Duke Ellington Conference in Chicago. When we were back in Chicago in 1998, Dick was again among the speakers. In 1984 he invited Willis Conover and me for an interview during his radio show. When I expressed my surprise at being invited as a completely unknown Ellington fan, he explained that my accent would be an interesting pleasure for his audience.
Jesse Drakes is a rather unknown Ellingtonian. He only played in the band from March 1956 until 9April. The only recording sessions he is likely to have attended are those from 18 and 19Mar56, from which five selections were released on The Private Collection Volume 1. His date of birth is according to Wikipedia 22oct24, but the date of 22oct26 as mentioned in The New DESOR (p1456) is confirmed by the website "Answers.com". The date of his death is even more uncertain. He was found dead in his New York apartment on 1May10.
Jesse Drakes is a more familiar name to Lester Young enthusiasts like myself. I’ve just been reading about him in Dave Gelly’s excellent 2007 book, Being Prez – The Life and Music of Lester Young. He was in Lester’s band in the late 1940s and 1950s.
Benny Powell, the trombonist who played for quite some time in the Basie band, died on 26Jun10 at age 80. He played in two sessions with Duke's orchestra: on 29Dec66 when he replaced Chuck Connors during a recording session for Duke's stockpile and on 25Apr69 when he played together with Bennie Green the trombone parts in one of the recording sessions for the soundtrack of "Change of Mind". He was also in the Basie band when Basie recorded with Duke on 6Jul61 for the album "Battle Royal".
Buddy Collette played in an Ellington aggregation, recording the soundtrack for "Assault on a Queen" on 19 and 20Jan66. He also appeared in a panel, discussing the making of this soundtrack, during the Duke Ellington Conference in Los Angeles on 27May2000 in the afternoon. The panel was moderated by Patricia Willard. Other participants were Catherine Gotthoffer, Louie Bellson, John Lamb and Ken Shroyer. Bud Shank couldn't come, but he sent a tape.
It was apparent that Buddy had suffered a stroke (in 1998). In the same year as the conference (2000) Buddy's autobiography was published: "Jazz Generations. A Life in American Music and Society". He wrote it with Steven Iosardi. Buddy Collette was very active in advancing and supporting integration.
He died on Sunday 19Sep10 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after suffering shortness of breath a day earlier.
The Mosaic 11 CD box set
See DEMS 10/2-14
By the time this Bulletin gets on line, the 11 CD Box set from Mosaic will probably be available. Augustin Perez Gasco was the first to inform the Duke LYM list about the full details available on https://www.mosaicrecords.com/discography.asp?number=248-MD-CD&price=$179.00&copies=11%20CDs
Since we all have access to the Internet, I have not copied these details in this DEMS Bulletin. I know that a few minor corrections have been made since their publication on the Mosaic web site.
If you have the 11 CD box and you should find a mistake or query, do not hesitate to send it to DEMS. The same is true for the earlier Mosaic 7 CD box with small group recordings.
I am totally happy
with the 11 CDs sent to me by Mosaic to be reviewed and with the text of Steven Lasker's discographical and historical notes.
I am eagerly waiting for the release of the complete box set to see the finished booklet with the pictures. I have just finished listening to CDs #1 to #7. My intention was to tell you how terrific the sound of these CDs is, but I had a problem. I was supposed to concentrate on the sound quality but the music is so good, as you all know, that it took my attention away from the sound quality. I am anyway not the most sensitive listener as far as sound quality is concerned. I grew up with the poorest kind of records (being acquired second hand at the flea-market during the war) and the poorest of sound systems: a re-wind record player with exchangeable needles. No electrical amplification. (There was only sporadically electricity during the final year of the war.) I was happy with Duke's music under the poorest listening conditions. When I concentrated on the sound of these Mosaic CDs, I noticed that with only a very few tracks it is possible to be aware of the fact that the sources were 78rpm disks of some sort. In almost all cases the music is completely free of noise. It is unbelievable!
The instruments which suffered the most as a result of the old fashioned recording techniques were the drums and the bass. They are now on these Mosaic CDs gloriously present.
Steven Lasker who produced the digital transfers, has done a marvelous job. But his historical and discographical work has impressed me even more than the fabulous sound quality. To make the digital transfers took him almost a year but accumulating all the knowledge about the records and the music (from which we only see what was covered in this set) took a lifetime.
The previous Mosaic box set with the recordings of the small groups gave us two previously unissued takes. See DEMS 06/2-39 and 07/1-39. This time the harvest is much greater. There are eight previously unreleased recordings in this 11 CD set:
Clouds in My Heart B 11867-A, 18May32
Porgy B 12784-B & -C, 22Dec32
Jive Stomp B 13801-B, 15Aug33
Moonlight Fiesta C 886-2, 9Jan35
Black Butterfly L 0376-2, 21Dec36
Harmony in Harlem M 650-1, 20Sep37
Dusk on the Desert M 651-1, 20Sep37
There is another difference from the earlier box. This time the alternates are not put directly behind the master takes, but assembled at the end of each CD. A very clever decision, which makes listening to the complete CDs more varied and indeed more pleasurable.
Like my dear friend Eddie Lambert, Steven takes the reader by the hand and makes him follow Duke's career as a recording artist. The difference is that Steven's work is illustrated with the music itself. Nothing gives me more satisfaction than to read his notes and to listen to the music at the same time. I have to finish this short review here because this Bulletin is waiting to be put on line. I look forward to continuing my journey through the thirties with the remaining 4 CDs and I am also looking forward to the complete box.
This masterpiece is a tribute to Duke Ellington which is more impressive than the biggest statue. If you want to donate to this tribute, by buying this 11 CD box set, you will not regret it. It is sensational.
Le Jazz, à la Lettre
By Yannick Séité, Presses universitaires de France 2010.
In his book Yannick Séité attempts a survey of the relationship between jazz and literature (mainly French literature) in the 20th century, and he meeting of writers with (American) jazz musicians, and some of the results of these meetings. There have been other works in French about music and literature, but none of these include the music called jazz.
Of special interest for people interested in the music of Duke Ellington are two long chapters dealing in depth with the music of Ellington in a literary context. One chapter deals with the Ellington/Strayhorn suite Such Sweet Thunder.
The other chapter deals with the music Ellington wrote and recorded in December 1960 in Paris for the play Turcaret, with French and American musicians, who are identified, some of whom were also used for the recordings of the music for the film Paris Blues. Turcaret – a classic French comedy – was written by Alain-René Lesage (1668-1747), and was to be staged at the Théatre National Populaire, directed by Jean Vilar. It was the first example of incidental music by Duke for a theatre play. Yannick Séité analyses the use of the music for the play. He also tells the story about how it came about and the meeting between Duke and Jean Vilar, all highly interesting.
The recording of the music for Turcaret circulates among collectors. It is my sincere hope, that Storyville, the company that has the rights to issue the music of Duke Ellington, eventually will make this music available on CD.
(Yannick Séité teaches literature at l'Université Paris Didérot – Paris 7.)
The recordings made for Turcaret have been 'released" on DEMS cassette CA 3. See DEMS 85/3-14.
New Book by Claire Gordon
Although it is not directly related to Duke Ellington, we are happy to make an exception and to promote a new book of a good friend, who co-wrote "Boy Meets Horn", the autobiography of Rex Stewart and also her own "My Unforgettable Jazz Friends" (see DEMS 04/2-19).
She wrote to DEMS:
"My novel has just been printed. The title "The Color of Music", was given it by John Hasse of the Smithsonian. The book is about identical mixed race twin boys separated at an early age. One is raised as a white child, the other as black. Yes, they are musical. Yes, Duke and many other familiar musicians' names and songs are mentioned and part of the plot.
The book is already available on Kindle ($9.99)and soon on iPad. The paperback version is $16.95 plus postage. USA $4. Europe? I don't know yet."