Thursday, June 09, 2005

Mercer Ellington

"To Steve, With My Very Best, Mercer Ellington" Posted by Hello

The UCLA Jazz Club put on several Duke Ellington tribute concerts at UCLA’s Royce Hall in the 80s. For the 1982 concert, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley presented the club with a proclamation declaring April 29th, 1982 Duke Ellington Day.

Shortly after the concert took place, the Duke Ellington Orchestra, led by Mercer Ellington [1919-1996] was playing a gig at Disneyland. I volunteered to present the proclamation to him since I was living in Orange County at the time (with the ulterior motive of adding to my autograph collection).

Security is tight at Disneyland, especially concerning access to the stuff behind the scenes. But it’s amazing how doors are opened when you’re carrying an official Los Angeles city document!

I given a backstage security pass and shown to the area where Mercer Ellington was relaxing after the concert. I presented the proclamation to him and although something like this was probably old hat for him, he was genuinely touched by it.

The album he signed for me is shown above. I’m a lefty and so was Mercer. Surprisingly, very few of the musicians I’ve gotten autographs from are left handed. Ornette Coleman and bassist Monty Budwig are about the only others I can think of off the top of my head. Intuitively, I always thought there would be a higher percentage in jazz than the general population, but I guess not….

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