Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Conference, Birmingham: Dr Katherine Williams

Dr Katherine Williams of Plymouth University is our second keynote speaker at the 25th International Duke Ellington Study Group Conference.

Dr Williams is author of books on Rufus Wainwright  and, with Justin A Williams, she edited The Singer- Songwriter Handbook and The Cambridge Companion To  The Singer-Songwriter.

Dr Williams has written and lectured extensively on the subject of Duke Ellington's music. On 27 April, 2016, she appeared at the Words and Music Festival, Stratford-upon-Avon with a presentation entitled Such Sweet Plunder: Or Whose Line Is It Anyway, which explored "the balance of authorial power between composer, band leader, musicians, improvisers and record producers."

Dr Williams is presently writing a book about Duke Ellington and will be addressing the conference about the researches she undertook as part of this project at The Smithsonian.
You can read Dr Williams's interview with Catherine Tackley about Benny Goodman's 1938 Carnegie Hall concert here.

Improvisation as Composition: Fixity of Form and Collaborative Composition in Duke Ellington's Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue by Dr Williams gives an indication of the insights conference delegates can expect to look forward to.

There is further interesting reading too, here,  in Dr Williams's essay, What Can Duke Ellington's Recordings Tell Us About Jazz History?

And here is an opportunity to listen to an interview with Dr Williams about her Ellington research.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Conference, Birmingham: Dr Harvey G. Cohen

Dr Harvey G. Cohen, one of our keynote speakers at the 25th International Duke Ellington Study Group Conference, Birmingham, is the author of the seminal work, Duke Ellington’s America.
Published in 2010, the book is a fascinating study of the social, political and cultural milieu in which Ellington lived and which informed his work.
“There are not many artists whose lives can bear the weight of such a non-art-oriented treatment,” Peter Keepnews wrote in his review for The New York Times, “Ellington, who for much of his career was not just a musician but also a symbol — of jazz as high art, of America as a land of opportunity — is one of them, and the story of his place in the world turns out to be well worth telling. Cohen’s in-depth examination of Ellington and civil rights is especially fascinating. Those who don’t know much about Ellington might assume from his charming but aloof public persona that he floated serenely above worldly matters like the struggle for racial equality. Cohen demonstrates otherwise, expertly detailing Ellington’s contributions to the cause — as a composer who addressed racial pride in ambitious works like Black, Brown and Beige and My People, and as a high-profile exemplar of dignity in the face of prejudice.”
In 2008, Dr Cohen addressed the 20th 
Ellington Conference in London. For Sjef Hoefsmit of the Duke Ellington Music Society, this was “by far the most interesting presentation” of the conference.

In Birmingham on Saturday, 25 May, Dr Harvey will doubtless have some fascinating insights to share about the writing of Duke Ellington’s America. His latest book, Who’s in the Money?: The Great Depression Musicals and Hollywood’s New Deal has just been published and will no doubt prove to be as timeless and prescient as his work on Ellington. 

A flavour of Dr Cohen’s presentation is given in his broadcast Duke Ellington’s America: Musical Genius And Then Some, available on Radio Open Source.

Further reviews of Duke Ellington's America:

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

25th International Duke Ellington Study Conference

Ticketing has gone live for the 25th International Duke Ellington Study Group Conference, 25th to 27th May, 2018 at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.

Tickets may be purchased here.

The page dedicated to the conference may be found on Royal Birmingham Conservatoire's website here.

You can read more about the Conference in the latest edition of What's On at The Eastside Jazz Club here.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Flaming Youth 2: Mount Si High School

A second instalment of our occasional series, Flaming Youth - videos  from the high school Essentially Ellington competitions over the years. Here, from last year's competition is a performance of Rocks In My Bed by Mount Si High School from Snoqualmie, WA.

The 23rd Essentially Ellington competition and festival will take place 10-12 May, 2018. Details of the finalists are here.

Monday, 2 April 2018

Cornell Classics

The above signed programme was auctioned recently on-line. It's interesting in giving us an insight into the selections Ellington made for the concert that evening.

Ellington played Cornell several times. See this post, for example for their 1947 engagement. Some of this recording appeared on a bootleg LP on the Stardust label, discographical details here (and mis-labelled on the cover as 30th April).

A much more celebrated and more easily available Cornell performance (a superb performance which allows the listener to hear the Orchestra during one of the frequent forties recording bans)was released on Music Masters some years ago...

Now, seventy-one years later from Ellington's original performance, at the same venue, Bailey Hall, on Ellington's birthday this year, Cornell Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Chris Younghoon Kim, will be performing Ellington's Harlem. Details here.

In 2017 (the seventieth anniversary of Ellington's first Cornell engagement), Chris Younghoon Kim conducted the rarely-performed Three Black Kings. You can enjoy the video here...

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Encadrée à Bruxelles...

RARE PHOTOGRAPHIES DES ANNEES 40 SIGNEE PAR LE DUKE, Paul Lavelle et d'autres musiciens à identifier

Cette photo a du être encadrée à Bruxelles dans les années 40.
Les signature réalisées au stylo à plume ne sont pas très lisibles.
Celle du Duke est très nette (relativement)

RARE PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE 40 YEARS SIGNED BY THE DUKE, Paul Lavelle and other musicians to identify

This photo had to be framed in Brussels in the 40s.
Feather pen signatures are not very readable.
That of Duke is very clear (relatively)