Friday, July 29, 2016

The "Sacred" Revisited: A Duke Ellington Memorial

Duke Ellington with Anita Moore at the Rainbow Room, 1972, © Nancy Crampton
Featured here is a great filmed concert whose origins, exact date and the name of musicians are not known to me. Surprisingly, it's not listed either on Jazz on TV filmographies or the discography of the distinguished musicians involved.

This 30-minute-long video assembles songs from Duke Ellington's Sacred Concerts, performed in his memory by a superb band which is not Ellington's orchestra or what was left of it at that time. The date, I guess, must be May 1986, when issuing the first postal stamp in Ellington's honor called for ducal festivities and all-star performances of his compositions.

The place? Maybe St. Patrick's Cathedral? If you're familiar with New York City, please go to 16' 12'' for an exterior shot of a church which I assume is the location of the concert.

Also, If you happen to know any of the band members seen in the video, please leave a comment. Those who are more easily detectable are Frank Wess (as), Slide Hampton (tb), Cecil Payne (bs, playing solo on My Love), and Billy Taylor (p). It's quite a line-up!

Vocalists are Priscilla Baskerville, Ellington's brother-in-law McHenry Boatwright, and Anita Moore who was the singer with Ellington Orchestra during the last two years of Duke's life (1972-74) up until the 1980s.

From the repertoire, the songs that I knew are listed below. Two remain unidentified.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Moondog Live in Stuttgart

Cover of a Moondog 7" EP from 1953
The blind composer, street musician, Nordic mystic, and instrument inventor Moondog (born Louis Thomas Hardin in Marysville, Kansas) moved to Germany in 1974 and lived there until he died in 1999, age 83. (Read about his illustrious, fascinating life on this Wikipedia entry.)

Here, one of Moondog's musical performances is filmed in Stuttgart, 1992, featuring his new compositions which were later released as Sax Pax for a Sax, in collaboration with London Saxophonic. When the album was released 6 years later, it reached no 22 on Billboard chart.

On this video Moondog and London Saxophonic perform:

Dog Trot
New Amsterdam

The band members are:

Friday, July 15, 2016

King of Jazz - Paul Whiteman's Picture at Last

For years, I was curious about King of Jazz, a two-strip technicolor film made in 1930, centered around the Paul Whiteman Orchestra with the leader serving as the master of ceremony in a revue musical.

Even though I had a VHS copy of the film in my possession, the awfully dim and faded colors, reduced to dirty browns and cheap watercolor reds, prevented me from watching it from beginning to end.

Now, thanks to a stunning and expensive restoration carried out by Universal, the film, which was a commercial flop at the time of its initial release, is back in circulation.