12/1 April - July 2012
Our 34th Year of Publication


Voort 18b, 2328 Meerle, Belgium
Telephone: +32 3 315 75 83


June Norton

DEMS 12/1-1

Many Ellington fans have been wondering about June Norton, a Washingtonian who sang with the orchestra during 1950 and occasionally thereafter. Recently I discovered with the help of a genealogist friend who got in touch with one of June's cousins that June had later in life married a US military man named Thomas Cuff and that they had resided in Washington, DC.
Then I found in the Washington Post archives that June Norton Cuff had passed on October 30, 2004. Her husband survived her. Her funeral was held in her birth city of Alexandria, Virginia and she was interred at Arlington National Cemetery.
An entry in a genealogy database indicates that June was born on October 19,1924. A history of her family is included in a 2010 survey entitled African American Settlement in the Uptown Neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia: A Study of the 200 Block of North West Street by Paul Doherty. You may find this unpublished manuscript in the Local History Collection, Kate Waller Barrett Branch, Alexandria Public Library in Virginia.
Patricia Braxton

June told me that she was the first black woman appearing on television (be in a commercial). I met her in Washington at the first Duke Ellington Conference in 1983. We travelled together to Oldham in 1985. She stayed with us several times and she became a good friend of both my wife and myself. I can confirm the date of birth. She is on our birthday calendar.
Sjef Hoefsmit

Bee Pine

DEMS 12/1-2

Many of us have met her on one or more Duke Ellington Conferences. She was a remarkable gentle lady. This message came to us from her son:
Bee Pine died peacefully of natural causes this morning, Sept. 24, 2011. She was 96.
She received birthday visitors with cheer last month. And less than two months ago Bee enjoyed a ride in the car. You can see a photo at

Her son Charlie and daughter-in-law Eva

Butch Ballard

DEMS 12/1-3

George E. Ballard, 92, a Philadelphia drummer who played with a.o. Count Basie and with Duke Ellington died Saturday, 1oct11, at Cheltenham-York Road Nursing Center in Philadelphia.
It was a pleasure to meet him at the Duke Ellington Conference in Ottawa where he played for us in the second half of the evening concert of 19May90 with Harold Ashby, Kenny Burrell, Wild Bill Davis and John Lamb. The next day he participated in a panel discussion presented by Patricia Willard.
Sjef Hoefsmit

Kay Davis

DEMS 12/1-4

Kay Davis joined the band in November 1944 and stayed until 1950 after a four-week tour in Europe. She married Edward Wimp in Chicago shortly after she left Ellington.
Kay was in the audience at the last concert during the Chicago Duke Ellington Conference on Saturday 19May84. She invited Klaus and Monika Stratemann and a few other participants of the Conference for a Sunday brunch at her home in Chicago. (See DEMS 84/4-5).

She was guest of honor at the Conference in Leeds in 1997, where she participated in a panel, chaired by Peter Newbrook. In the same panel were Jack Fallon, Malcolm Mitchell and Tony Crombie. Only Duke and Ray Nance were missing from the group that travelled through Great Britain, France, Belgium and Switzerland in 1948. (See DEMS 97/2-1&8).
The next year, she was again with us in her home town Chicago. After Deborra Richardson's presentation on 7May98, "Three Lovely Ladies", Kay came on stage accompanied by Joya Sherrill and Dolores Parker. (See DEMS 98/2-1&5).
Apart from her great talent as a singer, Kay also made an impression on everybody who met her, by her charm and friendliness. She died on 27Jan12.
Sjef Hoefsmit


A lot of Swedish NEW FINDS

DEMS 12/1-5

A group of Swedish friends, busy with cataloguing the Benny Aasland collection, have sent me several beautiful concerts played in Sweden some of which are now complete for the first time, while others are completely "fresh" for the Duke Ellington community. This is an unauthorized translation of an article in the September Bulletin of the Duke Ellington Society of Sweden:

A year after Benny Åslund died, his widow, Birgit Aslund, donated a large collection of tapes, cassettes, videotapes, plus some other material to the Swedish Visarkiv [Center for Folk Music and Jazz Research], where it has stayed until now.
In connection with
the project "Duke Ellington in Sweden" intended for our website, contacts were made with Visarkivet about the material in order to find previously unknown recordings that could complement the discography.
We received
information that the Visarkivet is now forced to cut back on its activities, and that Benny's collections would probably be sent to the Smithsonian in Washington DC. However, keen to see that the collection stays in Sweden, providing that the material is treated in a serious manner, it was considered to be a good idea if the DESS took care of it. The board of DESS then declared itself ready to take care of the collection and to conserve it in an appropriate manner.
The idea
is to first undertake a cataloguing exercise, so that usable records are created. Only after that can the collection be utilized for research purposes. During the years at Visarkivet no cataloguing has been done. We will set up a working group to deal with this and with establishing rules for the use of the collection.
The collection seems to be quite extensive. We assess the need for approximately 16 meters of shelf space for it. And here we arrive at our problem. We currently have no suitable premises for the purpose, but we have decided to try to obtain some.
it would be great if we could get help with ideas from members as to where we should search. The problem is probably not to find a room in itself, but to find one that the Society can afford. One can imagine a basement, with space for bookshelves, desks, some recording equipment. It would also be used to store a part of the Society's documents. Today, such material is scattered in several places. The premises should be easy to reach. The fact that 70% of the members are Stockholm locals, should be taken into account during the search.
We appeal to members to help us with ideas for a suitable home for the fine collection.
Anders Asplund.

Not able to offer a helping hand
in the matter of the storage problems of the Benny Aasland collection,
I was happy to be invited to assist in the cataloguing. This resulted in a great number of New FINDS and one negative New FIND, one that has to be deleted.

We start with the negative one:

The Opposite of a New Find

DEMS 12/1-6

When I copied for one of my Swedish friends the sessions New DESOR 6417 and 6419, I got the impression that some of the selections were identical on both tapes. Had I made the copies with a considerable time interval between the two, I would not have noticed this. I myself have contributed to the confusion with my suggested correction for The New DESOR on page 366 (See DEMS 02/2-26), claiming that I had discovered the first part of the second concert in Stockholm on 9Mar64. I misled my Italian friends, who trusted me and who made the false correction of session 6417 on Correction-sheet 1037.
Actually what I claimed seemed very logical. The selections on my tape as described in DEMS 02/2-26 are indeed from 9Mar64 Stockholm, second concert, as long as we trust the liner notes by Stanley Dance on the jacket of the Pablo LP "Harlem" 2308.245, see DEMS 85/4-1. Three selections on my tape were identical with Pablo: The Prowling Cat, Happy Reunion and Caravan. So after I made a copy of the corrected session 6417, I started doing the same with session 6419, Göteborg. When I heard the same (few) clinkers that I had just heard on the tape of 6417, I suspected that they were identical. From 6417 I had only the tape as described in DEMS 02/2-26 and the Pablo release. From 6419 I had many more sources. Two tapes from the late André Mahus, my Parisian friend, one tape from my friend and compatriot Georges Debroe and four single selections which were released on the famous 5 LP box. After comparing all the sources that I have, my conclusion is that we have only one concert.
After I wrote to my friends in Sweden about this, one answered: "I’ve checked a little bit further and found that Olle Helander’s statement about the concert taking place 'last Wednesday' also coincides with Wednesday 11 March." Olle Helander presented a radio broadcast and he specifically stated that the broadcast recording is from the second concert, and is edited.
Another Swedish friend did send me a recording of a radio broadcast, in which it was explicitly claimed that the recordings were made in Stockholm. It was however the Pablo album which was played. The people at the Swedish Radio were also fooled by Stanley Dance.
If my Italian friends will accept my finding, it will cause a myriad of corrections. Incidentally my claims that a number of recordings were not from 9Mar64 but from 11Mar64 were right. They were indeed from 11Mar64. From 9Mar64 I have not yet found a trace. I have no confirmation of the correct sequence of the selections. I looked at the Berlin concert of 15Mar64 and I suggest that the second concert in Göteborg on 11Mar64 looked as follows: (The Pablo selections have an asterisk)
Take the "A" Train
Black and Tan Fantasy, Creole Love Call, The Mooch
(released on Black Lion 52021)
Blue Bird of Delhi
* The Opener
* Happy Reunion
(released on Black Lion 52041)
* Wailing Interval
* Harlem
(and intermission)
* Caravan
(released on Black Lion 52021)
* Tootie for Cootie
(released on Black Lion 52031)
* Things Ain't What They Used to Be

* All of Me
* The Prowling Cat
Kinda Dukish & Rockin' in Rhythm
* Satin Doll

A totally unknown (to us) concert is from
Copenhagen, 30Sep59, K.B. Hallen

DEMS 12/1-7

Take the "A" Train
Black and Tan Fantasy
Creole Love Call
The Mooch
Such Sweet Thunder
Kinda Dukish & Rockin' in Rhythm
El Gato
Jeep's Blues
Things Ain't What They Used To Be
All of Me
Skin Deep
Bill Bailey
Walkin' and Singin' the Blues
I Got It Bad
V.I.P. Boogie
Jam with Sam
       Don't Get Around Much Anymore
       Do Nothin' Till You Hear from Me
       In a Sentimental Mood
       Mood Indigo
       I'm Beginning To See the Light
       Sophisticated Lady
       Just Squeeze Me
       It Don't Mean a Thing
       I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart &
               Don't Get Around Much Anymore
Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue (n.c.)

Another totally unknown concert is the first concert from
Stockholm, 6Feb63, Konserthuset

DEMS 12/1-8

Take the "A" Train (note 1)
Kinda Dukish & Rockin' in Rhythm
Silk Lace
Eighth Veil
Pyramid (note 2)
Guitar Amour (note 3)
Jam with Sam
Stompy Jones

Do Nothin' Till You Hear from Me
Tootie for Cootie
Star-Crossed Lovers
Things Ain't What They Used To Be
The Blues
Do Nothin' Till You Hear from Me
One More Once
Dancers in Love (note 4)

This recording is more than welcome because it identifies three selections from the famous 5 LP box.
See for the famous 5 LP box DEMS 98/4-3. To make the distinction between the 5 LPs we use the numbers of the releases on Black Lion. Black Lion 52001 is the same as the first LP (sides A & B);
Black Lion 52011 is the same as the second LP (sides C & D); Black Lion 52021 is the same as the third LP (sides E & F); Black Lion 52031 is the same as  the fourth LP (sides G & H) and Black Lion 52041 is the same as the fifth LP (sides I & J). It is obvious that it is now time to publish an updated version of the listing from 1998. See this Bulletin 12/1-30.
1. Take the "A" Train is not "fresh". On our tape it came from a Swedish broadcast titled "Jazz Trumpeten"
2. Pyramid is released on Black Lion 52031
3. Guitar Amour is released on Black Lion 52021, but now it is complete. Black Lion does not include the start.
4. Dancers in Love is released on Black Lion 52011

Another partly unknown concert is the second concert from
Stockholm, 6Feb63, Konserthuset

DEMS 12/1-9

6315a  Take the "A" Train
6315b  Afro-Bossa
6315c  Kinda Dukish
6315d  Rockin' in Rhythm
fresh  Silk Lace
fresh  Eighth Veil
6315e  Pyramid
6315f  Cops (Asphalt Jungle)
6315g  Guitar Amour
fresh  Cop-Out
fresh  Jam with Sam
fresh  Stompy Jones (note 1)
6315h  Do Nothin' Till You Hear from Me
fresh  Tootie for Cootie
6315i  Star-Crossed Lovers (note 2)
6315j  Things Ain't What They Used To Be
6315k  Perdido (note 3)
fresh  The Blues
6315l  Do Nothin' Till You Hear from Me
fresh  One More Once
6315m  C-Jam Blues (note 4)
fresh  Take the "A" Train

This recording too is most welcome. It identifies one selection and confirms the identification of two more.
1. Stompy Jones is released on Black Lion 52001
2. Star-Crossed Lovers is indeed released on Black Lion 52041
3. Perdido on our tape came from a Swedish broadcast titled "Jazz Trumpeten", but it is now complete.
4. C-Jam Blues is indeed released on Black Lion 52001

Note 5. Now we do have two more or less complete Stockholm concerts from 6Feb63, it is time to express my doubts about the four titles in session 6316.
As dates for three of these recordings (Afro-Bossa, Cops and Guitar Amour) were mentioned 6Feb63 and for Silk Lace 8Jun63. These claims are wrong. Comparison of Afro-Bossa with every recording I have from the first and second European tour in 1963 revealed that it did not match and that it must have been from the first tour. Duke explicitly announced the title as Afro-Bossa after he returned in May.
During the first tour he used only as title Boola as he also did on the recording on Pablo 247. I suspect that these four titles belong to the first part of the concert in Milano on 21Feb63, because the first part of that concert is very clearly missing from our recordings and three other selections of the Pablo 247 release are from that concert.
Sjef Hoefsmit**

Another great find is the complete first concert from
Stockholm, 7Feb66, Konserthuset

DEMS 12/1-10

      Intro by Norman Granz
fresh  Take the "A" Train
fresh  Soul Call
fresh  West Indian Pancake
6613a  El Viti
fresh  The Opener
6613b  La Plus Belle Africaine
fresh  Veldt-Amor
6613c  Magenta Haze
fresh  Things Ain't What They Used To Be
fresh  Wings and Things
          Introduction of Ella Fitzgerald by Norman Granz
          Satin Doll
          Wives and Lovers
          Something To Live For
          Let's Do It
          Sweet Georgia Brown
          Lover Man
          So Danco Samba
          I'm Just a Lucky So and So
          Mack the Knife
fresh  Cotton Tail
fresh  Imagine My Frustration
fresh  C-Jam Blues (Duke's Place)
fresh  Azure

The three selections which are mentioned in The New DESOR 6613, are indeed confirmed to have been released on the 5 LP box, on the Black Lion LPs 52021, 52031 and 52011 respectively.

The last New FIND from Sweden is for the time being the second concert from
Göteborg, 8Jul70, Liseberg Konserthallen

DEMS 12/1-11

7052b  Summer Samba
7052a  C-Jam Blues
7052c  Kinda Dukish
7052d  Rockin' in Rhythm
7052e  Second Line
7052f  Bourbon Street Jingling Jollies
7052g  Aristocracy A La Jean Lafitte
7052h  Thanks For The Beautiful Land
7052i  Portrait Of Louis Armstrong
7052j  Take the "A" Train
7052k  In a Sentimental Mood
7052l  Up Jump
7052m  Medley:
              Do Nothin' Till You Hear from Me
              Just Squeeze Me
             Don't Get Around Much Anymore (now complete)
fresh     Mood Indigo
fresh     I'm Beginning To See the Light
fresh     Sophisticated Lady (interrupted)
fresh     Caravan
fresh  Birth of the Blues
fresh  St. Louis Blues
fresh  April in Paris
fresh  April in Paris
fresh  Come Off the Veldt
fresh  April in Paris
fresh  Solitude
fresh  It Don't Mean a Thing
fresh  Be Cool and Groovy for Me
fresh  Satin Doll
fresh  Things Ain't What They Used To Be
fresh  In Triplicate
fresh  Perdido
fresh  Black Swan
fresh  Love You Madly
(The 2nd concert is now complete. Benny Aasland recorded both concerts of 8Jul70 on portable equipment.)

Berlin, 8Nov69

DEMS 12/1-12

Luciano Massagli found a complete recording of the 8Nov69 Berlin concert at the Philharmonic Hall during the "Berliner Jazztagen". A great part of this concert has been released in the past on Videotape and DVD. See DEMS 91/3-4. But now it is complete, at least in audio. The concert is documented in The New DESOR session 6954. A Correction-sheet has now been published that contains two "fresh" selections: Fife, after Black Swan and Meditation at the very end of the concert after C-Jam Blues.

Today Show, 30Jul63

DEMS 12/1-13

Our friend Ian Bradley won on an auction several tapes from the Al Celley collection. I helped him to identify the contents and I was pleasantly surprised to find a "fresh" session.
It is the Today Show of 30Jul63 with Hugh Downs as the MC.
There is some chat at the start, followed by a kind of a Medley consisting of Caravan; I Got It Bad and C-Jam Blues. This is followed by an interview in which Duke's speaks of the Stratford Ontario Shakespeare performance of "Timon of Athens". He said "The première was last night". This confirms the date which was written on the tape box: 30Jul63. To conclude his contribution to the Show, Duke played "Timon of Athens". He was accompanied throughout by Johnny Hodges, Harry Carney, Sam Woodyard and Ernie Shepard.
Sjef Hoefsmit

New Orleans, 25Apr70

DEMS 12/1-14

The Ellington concert on Wolfgang's Vault is marvelous:|2045&StartTrackID=4.
The date is April 25, 1970, 16 days before Johnny Hodges passed away. He is featured on
Blues for New Orleans, Passion Flower and Things Ain't What They Used To Be.
A real treat!
Loek Hopstaken

Here are the titles:

 1. Introduction by George Wein
 2. C-Jam Blues
 3. Intro to 4.
 4. Take the "A" Train
 5. Blues for New Orleans
 6. Passion Flower
 7. Things Ain't What They Used To Be
 8. Intro to 9.
 9. April in Paris
10. Intro to 11.
11. In Triplicate
12. Intro to 13.
13. Making That Scene
14. Be Cool and Groovy for Me
15. Intro to 16.
16. Satin Doll



Clark Terry's autobiography.

DEMS 12/1-15 (See DEMS 11/2-7)

Clark, The Autobiography of Clark Terry – with Gwen Terry (University of California Press, $34.95/£24.95)
, released to coincide with Terry’s 91st birthday  December 14, 2011, is a remarkably detailed account of his life from nascent deep poverty as the seventh of his family’s eleven children in severely segregated St. Louis, Missouri, to the internationally celebrated master musician whose list of Honors and Awards fills seven pages of 10-point type at the end of the book.
In retrospect, his association with Duke Ellington appears inevitable.  He easily recalls his initial exposure at age ten to Ellingtonia on a neighbor’s graphophone—predecessor to the gramophone—and his enthusiasm for and dedication to Ellington music throughout his life. As he developed as an artist, his path led him to pervasively influential musicians, some of whom would be his eventual colleagues in the Ellington orchestra. At Great Lakes Naval Training Base during World War II, he played in the outstanding, segregated black band with future Ellingtonians Gerald Wilson and Booty Wood; in Charlie Barnet’s more integrated band, Terry followed Al Killian in the trumpet section, was introduced to the “serious charts” of Andy Gibson who also wrote for Duke, and played alongside singer-dancer Bunny Briggs, who would become a significant performer with Ellington. As a member of the George Hudson aggregation, which backed such recurring Ellington associates as Peg Leg Bates, Patterson and Jackson, Ella Fitzgerald, the Mills Brothers and Pete Nugent, Terry got to know the band vocalist Jimmy Grissom before they shared the Ducal bandstand in the 1950s.  Terry earned his stripes on the T.O.B.A. circuit but there was fun involved: “Man, Ella could hit and run just like one of the cats,” he reminisces about early morning baseball games. “She could really hit that ball.”
Terry offers charming vignettes he witnessed, such as John Birks Gillespie seeking the tutelage of a Mr. Gustat, principal trumpet with the St. Louis Symphony, for help in not puffing his cheeks: “‘[Gustat] said, take out your horn and play something...Do that again...How long have you been doing that?’  Dizzy answered reluctantly, ‘Well, I’ve been doing this all of my life.’  Gustat said, ‘You just keep on doing it and get the hell out of here!’” 
This book’s most valuable contributions are Terry’s  descriptions of the revelation and impact of the music from inside the bands of Ellington, Basie and Hampton and his characterizations of his fellow artists, especially the warm, intuitive sketches of Quentin Jackson. Billy Strayhorn and Ozzie Bailey.  Terry was on site for the famous Mingus-Tizol escapade at the Apollo, he reveals the origin of “Mumbles,” and recounts the pleasure of playing at “Ellington ’94 at Stockholm, the story behind Ellington’s superstitious fear of the color yellow, and confesses to culpability in Ellington’s capturing him from Basie’s brass section. Basie gets the last word. Probably the least appealing section is Terry’s seemingly proud account of his success as a pimp.
Gwen Terry, the author’s third wife, succeeds admirably in maintaining his voice while weaving together the disparate filaments of his nine decades. And Clark, visually impaired by advanced diabetes, cannot be held responsible for what appears in type. However, such a comprehensive autobiography should merit an expert editor who is capable of deleting annoying repetition, who knows that the Church of God in Christ continues to be known by that name alone and never has been the Church of God and Christ; that a person in the military who is not on the base at the appointed time is A.W.O.L. (absent without leave), not A.O.L.; that a photo of Harry James should not be captioned “Actor Harry James” unless someone is being snide about his trumpet technique; that valve trombonist Juan Tizol was a native of Puerto Rico, not Cuba; that the Celley brothers who managed Ellington, were Sicilian, not Italian; that it is unlikely that Terry played  “Take the ‘A’ Train” in May 1940 with Fate Marable when Strayhorn did not compose it until December 1940, and that Dinah Washington did not yell out the window to the Ellington bandbus from the Adams Hotel in Los Angeles. It was the Watkins Hotel on West Adams Boulevard. Perhaps most important of all, names of two dozen significant musicians and their associates should not be misspelled!
Patricia Willard



The Ellington Century

DEMS 12/1-16

Roger Boyes wrote a review of "The Ellington Century" for the Newsletter of the Duke Ellington Society UK. He was so generous to allow us to "print" his fine review in DEMS Bulletin even before it will appear in "Blue Light".

The Ellington Century

By David Schiff

University of California Press, 2012

xiv + 320 pages, including notes, bibliography, index

ISBN 978-0-520-24587-7


Since around the centenary of Duke Ellington’s birth in 1999, and probably for some time before then, he has been called with increasing frequency one of the greatest of 20th century composers, even the greatest. Such assertions don’t add up to much in themselves. Ranking great cricketers or actors or artists, in order from greatest to great but least great, is in the end a game; fun but it doesn’t mean much. The important point about the list of great composers is that the field from which it is compiled now includes Ellington at all. There will still be people who feel it shouldn’t, but the fact that it does becomes ever more securely established.

The importance of David Schiff’s new book, the most stimulating contribution to the Ellington literature I have encountered since Eddie Lambert’s Listener’s Guide, is that it buttresses the assertion with detailed consideration of the achievements of those other composers, Ellington’s colleagues. That Ellington dominates the field of jazz composers has been a given since at least 1940. He was probably accepted as a significant songwriter even earlier, though Alec Wilder judges him a minor figure in this field, in his 1972 book American Popular Song, a dismissive assessment which Schiff challenges forcefully and convincingly. My uncle, not a jazz enthusiast but a good enough pianist to have accompanied the action of silent films in the 1920s, knew all the great Ellington hits of the 1930s. But terms like ‘jazz composer’ and ‘songwriter’ bring us up against categories. Ellington always insisted his music was beyond category, no doubt with just such tags in mind.

Schiff has the critical apparatus to support the assertion. Two years after the Pulitzer Prize board, headed by the president of Columbia University, had rejected its music jury’s recommendation to award Ellington the Prize, Columbia granted Schiff a two-year fellowship to read English at Cambridge. At Clare College he quickly switched to the Music Tripos, which involved six three-hour exams testing no taught courses, no prescribed activities, no classes in musicianship. Candidates were given beginnings of pieces – from Guillaume de Machaut in the 14th century to François Poulenc in the 20th – and required to complete them, on the spot, in the examination hall.

I’m saying all this to make the point that Schiff knows a thing or two about composing. The title of his book, The Ellington Century, invites us to ponder the fact that, while World War I took place as he grew up, and Soviet communism collapsed after his death, from 1924 to 1974 Duke’s career encompassed the century’s heart. The title suggests a chronological approach; not at all, it’s a thematic one, and it doesn’t go over familiar territory. The chronology is taken as read. Schiff’s concern is the achievement.

An overture, titled Such Sweet Thunder, sets out the book’s aim, to consider Duke’s work in its musical context – Berg, Bizet, Fats Domino, Stravinsky – to say nothing of the wider culture (Eliot’s Shakespehearean Rag, ‘Dagmar-bumpered V-8s’ are referenced in the earliest pages). It places Billy Strayhorn briefly and accurately in the frame. Four chapters consider four aspects of Duke’s work: first colour, then the key musical elements of rhythm, melody, harmony. The subjects of the four chapters are subtitles of four Ellington compositions, respectively Blue Light, Cotton Tail, Prelude To A Kiss, Satin Doll.

A brief entr’acte, titled Sepia Panorama, considers Duke’s artistic purposes, what he was here for, from the growing boy imbibing the content of Washington DC pageants, to the dying septuagenarian proclaiming his faith in the world’s cathedrals. ‘My People’ and the African American experience was the motivator. To compose Chichester Psalms, an 18-minute work, Leonard Bernstein could take a year’s sabbatical from the New York Phil. No such luxury came Ellington’s way; he was rarely away from the band, composed in the small hours after long nights on the bandstand, and was well aware of the thwarted ambitions of his mentors Will Marion Cook and James P Johnson. Three further chapters consider Duke’s music under three headings, Love, History, God; again, each title has an Ellington composition as its supertitle, respectively Warm Valley, Black Brown And Beige, Heaven.

This is a scholarly book, closely argued. But it is very readable – Schiff is a journalist as well as a composer and academic. There are no musical examples to baffle those who don’t read music. For many of the compositions discussed (not all) Schiff provides valuable guides, of the sort that are helpful while listening to the recordings. Ellington works for which Schiff supplies such guides include Blue Light, Cotton Tail and parts of Black, Brown And Beige; and there’s a fascinating extended tour through the whole of Such Sweet Thunder. Other composers’ works include Ravel’s Valses Nobles Et Sentimentales, parts of Bartok’s String Quartet No 2, Davis’s Freddie Freeloader, and Copland’s Appalachian Spring. I found the chapter on harmony hard going (the author warns that ‘from here on things get a little technical’), but we reach easier terrain before long. The persistent will be amply rewarded, and the open-minded will gain fresh insights into music they know and introductions to music, probably including whole areas of music, previously overlooked. 

Here are a few details to ponder. Pages 160-162: A short discussion on Reminiscing In Tempo covers John Howland’s recent research stemming from his examination of the score. But it also discloses that back in 1935 an English critic, Leonard Hibbs, observed that side 4 of the recording bore a close resemblance to the AABABA form of an extended (32 to 48 bars) popular song, and seemed to be complete within itself (Howland’s ‘template’).  Reminiscing’s severest critics in 1935, Hammond and Hughes, are dismissed briefly and effectively. Page 157: Ellington’s music, like much of the music of Mozart and Chopin, is night music. Pages 249-252: Schiff sees five sacred concerts, not three, arguing that two protosacred concerts anticipated the so-titled three with which we are familiar. It will surprise no-one that one of these is My People (1963), Duke’s apotheosis, if you will, of those Washington pageants of his boyhood. The other is the Columbia Black Brown And Beige recording of 1958 – actually, as Schiff points out, it’s a rerecording of Work Song, Come Sunday and Light, followed by Mahalia Jackson’s vocal Come Sunday and her 23rd Psalm. In this undertaking did Ellington begin to overtly address his God through his music. It was interesting to read Schiff’s assessment of the 1958 Columbia immediately after reading Mike Westbrook’s eloquent description of its spiritual plane in Blue Light 19/1.

There are many more insights for the reader to savour (and occasionally to quarrel with). A single lucid paragraph sums up Lena Horne’s problem with Hollywood, and so with her own career as an actress. A few pages later there’s an equally brief and lucid analysis of Reminiscing In Tempo and the Perfume Suite as declarations of love. Consider Ellington as Othello, black superstar, and Strayhorn as ‘the impish fairy Puck’. Consider: ‘the lack of published scores fuelled rumours that Ellington lacked the techniques of the trained composer, a slander develop at great length in James Lincoln Collier’s mean-spirited biography’. Consider the baneful shadow which D W Griffith’s racist Birth Of A Nation (1915) cast over the history of twentieth-century America, and the careers of Ellington and every jazz musician. Schiff sheds light on Ellington’s problem with Gershwin.

I hope the examples I’ve mentioned here will be enough to convince you that many fresh insights await the reader of David Schiff’s book. While it doesn’t always yield them easily, he writes very well, and with concern for the reader. As always, persistence brings rewards. I found few errors of fact, and far fewer editorial typos than is often the case in books nowadays – nothing to distract attention from the argument. This is a well-constructed, cogently argued addition to the Ellington literature which is most welcome.
Roger Boyes

Alain Pailler's Latest Essay

DEMS 12/1-17

"Ko-Ko" is the title of Alain Pailler's latest "essay" on Duke and his music (after "Plaisir d'Ellington" 1998, see DEMS 99/4-29, "Duke's Place" 2002 and "La Preuve Par Neuf" 2007).
This book in French has 110 pages - 'Jazz Impressions' Editions Alter-ego ISBN 978-2-915528-26-8. 12 Euros.
Klaus Götting

Norman Granz

DEMS 12/1-18

"Norman Granz, The Man Who Used Jazz For Justice" is the title of an excellent book by Ted Hershorn.
A fine review by Norman Vickers can be found at
Sjef Hoefsmit

Gunther Schuller

DEMS 12/1-19

"Gunther Schuller, A Life In Pursuit Of Music And Beauty" is the title of Gunther Schuller's autobiography. This heavy book (more than 600 pages) is only part one of his autobiography. It covers his life until 1960. A few very favorable reviews can be found at <>
Sjef Hoefsmit