12/2 August - November 2012
Our 34th Year of Publication


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Maria Ellington

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Maria Hawkins Cole (also known as Ellington following her first marriage) (August 1, 1922 – July 10, 2012) was the widow of singer Nat King Cole and mother of singer Natalie Cole. She was also a jazz singer who worked most notably with Count Basie and Duke Ellington from early October 1944 until mid September 1945. She met Nat King Cole while they were both singing at the Zanzibar club.
Maria Ellington died in a nursing home in Boca Raton, Florida, after a short battle with cancer at the age of 89.



Duke Ellington Conference at Woking

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DEMS made an agreement with the organizers of the Conference. DEMS would pay 195 GBP (the full amount for a registration) and the organizers would send to DEMS audio copies of the presentations to make it possible to write a report of the conference.
Until now we only received a copy of the presentation by Bill Saxonis, "Reflections on Duke and His World: The Oral History Project", which was scheduled as the first session in the afternoon of 25May.

Bill Saxonis made since 2000 each year a radio program on Duke's birthday. These broadcasts contain quite some interviews about Duke. Some of these interviews were even made during previous Ellington Conferences.

Art Baron
told in his interview about the "recorder" which Art carried with him. When Duke found out that Art could play that instrument, he decided to write a small piece for Art to be performed during the Third Sacred Concert. Art had hardly enough time for rehearsal. The rehearsals went on until the audience showed up in the cathedral.
Willie Ruff spoke about the "All Star" concert on 6 October 1968 at Lincoln Centre. It was a year after Billy Strayhorn died and Duke wanted to raise money for a scholarship at Julliard. Duke had nothing scheduled for the program. When he found Willie "The Lion" Smith behind the stage he introduced him to the audience and "The Lion" played Carolina Shout.
Samintha Bea Benjamin told the story again about Duke insisting to play the piano when she sang I Got It Bad (on 24Feb63) in Paris.
John Lamb spoke of his solo in Bluebird of Delhi. He didn't feel comfortable when people called him Duke's bass-player. He was his own bass-player, but he respected Duke greatly.
Buster Cooper spoke of Billy Strayhorn. He admired Billy very much.
Willie Ruff spoke of the "Suite for the Duo", written by Billy Strayhorn specially for him and his partner Dwike Mitchel. This Suite was performed during the concert at Lincoln Centre on 6oct68. When Billy was writing the piece in the presence of Willie Ruff, Billy called Duke at the phone to ask him advise, which Billy accepted and which improved the score.
Bob Wilber spoke of his idol Johnny Hodges. When Johnny was asked to play with Bob's band at George Wein's Storyville Club in Boston on Bob's soprano saxophone, he asked for a clarinet reed and he not even wetted the reed before he played a wonderful solo on Bob's instrument.
Willie Ruff spoke again about Charles Mingus. During a concert at the Woolsey Hall at Yale on October 1972, the band had to be evacuated because there was a bomb-thread. Charles said "this is a good day to die. Everybody may leave but I play Sophisticated Lady", which he did on Willie Ruff's bass.
Art Baron expressed his admiration for Harold Ashby.
George Avakian told how he met Duke Ellington for the first time.
Buster Cooper spoke of the Ed Sullivan Shows.
Richard Gale talked about his father, Moe Gale, the owner of the Savoy Ballroom and the first agent of Ella Fitzgerald. He admitted that Ella had a greater career with Norman Grantz than with the Gale organisation.

This was the end of Bill Saxonis' fine presentation, both entertaining and informative.
Sjef Hoefsmit**





Clark Terry

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As you know, I'm digitizing Jazz Journal Magazine and have just finished preparing 1958 and am about to send it off to the editor but I thought that this article on Clark Terry might be of interest for inclusion in the next issue. You will remember that the editor, Mark Gilbert, has already given overall permission for content relating to Duke to be published in the Bulletin and Blue Light.
Marcus Girvan

The Man from St. Louis


Probably all followers of the Duke Ellington band's more recent work smiled happily when they read that Duke had chosen Clark Terry to represent Puck in his suite of Shakespearean sketches; for if ever a trumpeter embodied the essence of Puckishness, Terry is that man.
His style is difficult to describe precisely. A touch of Edison's occasional intense passion and more than a dash of Rex Stewart's tricky wit combine with a powerful leaning towards the modernism of Gillespie; but above all the individual approach which makes his work so easily recognizable is always apparent. His work is full of contrasts — one moment he will play a phrase from the melody, then follow it with a fast upward chromatic run a la Dizzy; or alternatively will intersperse brief multi-noted comments around his accompanying background figures, usually in an inimitable "popping" style which has its roots in Rex Stewart's work, but which is nearly all Terry. It is evident that he is one of the foremost ''humorist" instrumentalists of his day—there is an undisguised "tongue-in-cheek" air about most of his playing; particularly with regard to his more outrageous quotes, which one could well dub "Terryisms".

He is possessed of a magnificent technique which at times enables him to rival the stratospheric Anderson, but with infinitely better taste, tone and accuracy than the Cat generally exhibits. Clark's unusual improvisational line, which although at first listening seems erratic and unconnected, falls "into place" upon further playings. It is difficult to repress an approving grin when hearing Terry play—would that more jazzmen today possessed his wicked sense of humour! (Incidentally the pleasing photograph on Terry's first LP under his own name — Mercury EJL.1256 — seems to typify the cheerfulness and informality inherent in his playing.)

In a way it is rather unfortunate that Terry has sojourned so long in the Duke's trumpet team. With four highly personal horn men jostling one another for solo space the opportunities for extended expression are necessarily limited. Perhaps that is the reason why recording executives have not been kind to Clark. It is a shame that a player with so much to say and such a fresh way of saying it should have made only one LP as leader and very few others as sideman. This compares most unfavourably with the position of the excellent Joe Newman, who, as well as being constantly before the public eye as principal trumpet soloist with the Basie band, has made scores of LP's with such diverse characters as Joe Turner, Al Cohn, Buck Clayton, Nat Pierce and Paul Quinichette, as well as several under his own name. While not wishing to take one shred of credit away from Newman, whose firm grip on the essential importance of playing with a powerful swing makes him a most encouraging and beneficial influence, we submit that while perhaps more roundabout in approach, Terry swings equally as much and has an imaginative flair in excess of Newman's.

It is high time that Terry began to collect his share of critical and public recognition. There is a humour and "liveness" about his music (so different from the deadpan lack of expression of the "Top Brass") that stamps him as the most interesting of the younger exponents of the modern school. While he may never be a great innovator, an Armstrong or a Gillespie, he occupies a position comparable to that held by the Armstrong-influenced but readily recognisable Joe Thomas in the thirties.

Those not knowing Clark's work might well study his Perdido with Duke on the Ellington Uptown LP (Philips). Here he is featured at length in a typical flow of offbeat ideas, and also takes part in a high-powered four-trumpet/one-trombone chase with Ray Nance, Willie Cook, Cat Anderson and Britt Woodman. His work here easily holds its own against the other instrumentalists. Another fine chase example is to be found on Johnny Hodges' Ellingtonia '56 (Clef), where Terry, Cook and Anderson trade fours and solos for several choruses on Duke's Jam; Cook and Cat play 'way in the upper reaches, but Clark is still in there pitching. With records like these, it is well worth the effort of penetrating the seeming inconsequentiality of this trumpeter's style to gain hours of pleasure with that rarity — a jazz original.
Jazz Journal July 1958

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As you may know the trumpeter Clark Terry has over the past few months had to have both his legs amputated as a result of the diabetes he’s suffered from since the Fifties. These were two massive operations and the results, as you would expect, have been agonising for Clark.
With the devoted care of his wife Gwen, Clark has been weathering the storm. His determination and bravery have been amazing and it is incredible that a man of his age has been able to produce such resources from within himself.
He has been in and out of hospital and still has many medical problems, but fortunately he is now at home. He speaks daily to friends and students by phone and Skype and I was myself able to have a long conversation with him about old times.
Fortunately a lot of the horrendous cost of his operations was covered by insurance. But Clark needs medical care 24 hours a day, and this eats up money art a horrifying rate. A lot of his friends have rallied round and all this has been paid for up to date.
We’ve all had so much pleasure over the years from Clark’s superb playing and from his wonderful personality. Young people have had their lives changed by his wonderful teaching and if anyone ever put more into life than they’ve taken out, then it’s Clark Terry.
If you’d like to make some recognition of the enjoyment Clark’s brought into your life, then it’s easy to send money to him by PayPal. You simply use Gwen Terry’s e-mail address, which is
Any money goes directly into Gwen’s PayPal account.
All you do is use Google to go to PayPal and then click the ‘send money’ box. The charge for sending money using this method is less than £3 however much you send. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to handle the technology, but when I came to it, it was quite simple, safe and didn’t take long!
Steve Voce**