Sunday, 17 February 2013

Check out Bob Smith's 1962 interview with Duke Ellington here.

In Black and White...

If you’re looking for the best way to hear the music Duke Ellington recorded on RCA 1927-32 and 1940-45, including the famous sides by the ‘Blanton Webster’ edition of the band, outside of the original 78 rpm issues, look out for six volumes of double LPs on the ‘Black and White Jazz Tribune’ label out of France (and that’s the original vinyl issues, not the compact disc versions).

Why are they the best? Because they’re the only ones issued from extant original metal parts and shellac master pressings. Representatives from RCA France went in and rescued these originals days before RCA USA had the building razed to the ground! Here’s a part of an article by writer Bill Holland.

"The most spectacular case of wholesale vault trashing is the decision by RCA in the early '60s to demolish its warehouse in Camden, N.J. The warehouse, according to collectors and industry veterans, held four floors of catalogue product, pre-tape-era material ranging from metal parts, acetates, shellac disc masters and alternate takes to test pressings, master matrix books and session rehearsal recordings.
"Several days before the demolition, officials from French RCA gained permission to go through the building and withdraw whatever material they could carry for their vinyl "Black and White" jazz reissue series. A few American collectors were also allowed in the building to salvage any items they could carry out.
"A few days later. as dozens of RCA officials and collectors stood on a nearby Delaware Bridge, demolition experts ignited the dynamite charges. Eyewitnesses said they saw "clouds of debris, black and metal chunks flying out the windows" of the collapsing building.
The building wreckage was then bulldozed into the Delaware River. A pier was built on top of the detritus."

To read the whole essay, go here.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

A Case in Point...

A couple of interesting items have surfaced within a day or so of each other on Ebay on both sides of the Atlantic and each, I suppose, might be said to have been a part of the Ellington Orchestra’s baggage on tour.

Firstly, a flight case which the vendor describes as:

Duke Ellington tour flight case last used Usher Hall concert hall Edinburgh 1974   height 28 inches - length 25 inches - width 14 inches. Handles on both sides and top and three compartments inside with 2 straps plus 4 strong wheels. Duke Ellington stickers on all sides.

Duke Ellington certainly played the Usher Concert Hall but in 1973. He would have been too ill to visit Britain in 1974.

Full details of the auction can be found here.

The second item is, potentially, even more interesting: a Conn alto saxophone case which bears the legend Duke Ellington’s Cotton Club Orchestra.

The vendor describes the item:

Listed here is a vintage Conn alto saxophone case that was used by Duke Ellington's Cotton Club Orchestra. The case is in rough shape as the photos show, and it is missing the handle. The latches all still work....maybe used by Johnny Hodges or Charlie Parker...who knows? A great piece of jazz history to display or restore.

Charlie Parker playing alto with Duke Ellington’s Cotton Club Orchestra? Jazz discographies would go into meltdown.

Full details of this auction can be found here.

Happy bidding!

Sunday, 3 February 2013

The Shepherd

Saturday, 2 March, 2013: Duke Ellington Sacred Concert featuring Yolanda Quartey, the Big Buzzard Band, the City of Bristol Choir and Junior Laniyan.

The concert is being held at Colston Hall, Bristol (where part of the 70th Birthday Concert album was recorded) as part of the city’s Jazz and Blues Festival. Full details can be found here.

The Big Buzzard Band features some of the UK's finest musicians, including Zoe Rahman on piano and Jonny Bruce on trumpet. The band performed the Sacred Concert in Exeter in December 2012. From that engagement,and courtesy of Soundcloud, here’s 'The Shepherd', featuring Zoe and Jonny.