Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Duke Ellington and Paul Gonsalves

Ellington in Copenhagen, 1965 Posted by Picasa

For my birthday yesterday, I got a Duke Ellington [1899-1974] DVD entitled "Copenhagen Concert, Parts I and II." It just came out in June and I would highly recommend it.

It was filmed in 1965 and has a lot of the great stars of the Ellington band on hand. The shows were originally broadcast on Danish TV. It’s in a very crisp black and white with great sound. The camera work/direction is just OK since there are times when the correct soloist or sections aren’t in the frame.

About the music – what can you say? This was an Ellington band that still had Cat Anderson, Ray Nance, Johnny Hodges, et al.

One of the things Ellington was known for was his refusal to fire anyone. (Although there was one exception - a young Charles Mingus got fired for getting into a knife fight with valve trombonist Juan Tizol.) Ellington’s preferred method of discipline was to embarrass the offender.

This DVD captures such an incident. During the second number of the first set, "Ad Lib on Nippon", Paul Gonsalves [1920-1974] is sound asleep! (Maybe it was jetlag, too much cough syrup, etc.?)
The next three numbers called feature Gonsalves, but you would never know he was "impaired" as he proceeds to blow the stuffing out of the songs.

But by the time we get to the second set, Jimmy Hamilton quickly steps into Gonsalves’ usual solo spot on "Perdido." Why? Because Gonsalves is out cold, with his saxophone in his mouth!

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