DUKE ELLINGTON MUSIC SOCIETY
11/1 April - July 2011
Our 33rd Year of Publication
FOUNDER: BENNY AASLAND
Voort 18b, 2328 Meerle, Belgium
Telephone: +32 3 315 75 83
In the early morning of December 23rd, Jack Towers passed away.
Apart from the tremendous pleasure the music of Duke Ellington has given me all my life, I have had the honour and the great fortune to meet quite a number of very nice people who shared with me the love of Duke's music. Without Ellington and without my dear friend Benny Aasland, I would never have met my new friends.
Jack is world famous because of his Fargo recordings. Peter MacHare and Ted Hudson compiled a list of all the releases in which Jack had a hand. There were more than 300! But one had to meet Jack Towers in person to realize that all this great work was done by an extremely nice person. I know that I can only give this title to a single man, but I do not hesitate when I say that Jack was the nicest man I have ever met in my life.
During the second evening of the 1983 Duke Ellington Conference in Washington, Jerry Valburn showed us a film by Gary Keys of Duke's tour through Mexico in 1968. None of us had ever seen this film. Jack was working with the unruly projector with a patience and a devotion that stunned me. He was not in the least nervous. The equipment was really obstinate. Jack did not show any emotion, only dedication. We were drinking coffee, served by Jack's wife Rhoda and other volunteers while Jack was working. That's when I started to understand what a kind of man Jack was. I was fortunate to have met him many times since. We became good friends. I miss him.
Billy Taylor, one of the musical giants of Washington and the world, died of a heart attack on 28 December, at a hospital in New York City. He was 89.
in December 2001, he awoke one morning unable to blink. He had suffered a stroke that affected the right side of his body, including the right hand that once danced across the keys.
Less than a year after he was stricken, Taylor was performing again, relying mostly on his mighty left hand. (For years in concert, long before the stroke, he featured a bravura piece in which he played everything -- melody, chords, driving rhythm -- with just his left hand.)
With Ellington, Strayhorn, Willie "The Lion" Smith, Earl Hines, Mary Lou Williams and Charles Bell, he participated in the Pittsburgh Jazz Piano Workshop on 20Jun65, although it is no longer certain that Duke joined him and Earl Hines in Sweet Lorraine. See DEMS 02/2-23/3 (Disc 1). It is however certain that Billy played together with Willie "The Lion" Smith and with Duke Perdido on the David Frost Show telecast on 24Jul69, three days after Billy Taylor's 48th birthday, which was possibly the date of the recording. See DEMS 07/2-4.
Billy played at Billy Strayhorn's funeral and together with Milt Hinton and Louie Bellson, he played a Medley at Duke's birthday party at the White House. See DEMS 02/2-23/1.
Barrie Lee Hall
Barrie Lee Hall died suddenly on Monday 24 January. He was 61 years old. He was only 24 years of age when he joined the Ellington Orchestra in 1973 for a stay which lasted until Mercer died in 1996. Barrie took over for a year and after that relieved the current conductor Paul Mercer Ellington occasionally. He also played in the Broadway show "Sophisticated Ladies" 1981-1983. He later resided in his hometown of Houston, TX, where he developed his line of fine quality pens. He sent to DEMS in 1998 one of his hand-constructed pens, a beauty.
Eileen died peacefully with her family at her side at Sunnybrook Palliative Care Unit in Toronto on 11 February at the age of 88.
I met her for the first time in Newark during the Ellington Conference of 1986. It was her first Ellington Conference and she became so excited that she volunteered to organize the next Conference in Toronto. It was my fourth Conference and having witnessed the tremendous job involved in organizing such an event, I was a bit worried about the 1987 Conference. It worked out to be one of the very best Conferences we have ever had. In 1994 Eileen was guest of honour at the Conference in Stockholm. In 1996 she was again heavily involved in the second Toronto Conference, at the end of which she donated a cheque for the next Conference in Leeds.
Eileen enjoyed a successful business career at McGill University, Power Corporation, Canadian International Development Agency, and Canada Development Corporation. After retirement, she pursued her passions of music, ideas, and the arts and she was not only active in the Duke Ellington Society, but also in the Art Gallery of Ontario. She was a founding member of the Academy of Lifelong Learning at the University of Toronto.
We stayed in contact during the last difficult years of her life.
She was a very dear friend. I cherish the many long letters she wrote to me.
Clark Terry celebrated his 90th birthday on 14Dec10. Belatedly but no less sincerely, we wish him many happy years with his lovely wife Gwen.
Ravinia Festival, 1Jul57
I just downloaded a CBS broadcast with Duke performing at Ravinia Park Festival, Highland Park, 1Jul57. I cannot find references in The New DESOR. Could this be a new find?
Here is what the side says:
"Embed over to the Ravinia Festival in Chicago this week for a concert broadcast from August 1st 1957 [sic], featuring Duke Ellington and his Orchestra playing the world premier [on radio] of his suite, 'Such Sweet Thunder' ".
Unfortunately it's only a half hour's worth, because that was all the time allotted by the network (CBS Radio) and this was the occasional problem with broadcasting at the time. Strict schedules and abrupt cut-offs created a lot of frustration for listeners.
This is the link to download the audio file (you can choose from several servers):
See the review by Don Gold in Ken Vail page 110 and documentation in Klaus Stratemann page 377.
This was the programme:
Such Sweet Thunder
Sonnet for Sister Kate
Up and Down. Up and Down
Madness in Great Ones
Half the Fun
Circle of Fourths
Jam with Sam
"fresh" find is also documented on Correction-sheet 1103 (see
11/1-28). Correction-sheets can be found on the same web-site as the DEMS Bulletins.
Instead of www.depanorama.net/dems, you type www.depanorama.net/desor.