Support All About Jazz

All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help
431

Duke Ellington: Love You Madly / A Concert of Sacred Music at Grace Cathedral

By

Sign in to view read count
Duke Ellington
Love You Madly / A Concert of Sacred Music at Grace Cathedral
Eagle Eye Media
2005

With the glut of Ellingtonia on the market, it's impossible to separate the sublime from the merely wonderful. This release leans toward the former. Split into two programs, the first a televised profile of Duke from 1965, the second a film of his first Sacred Concert, it is a package of off-hand delights.

Love You Madly is a glowing profile of Duke on a 1965 tour. Made by jazz- crit icon Ralph Gleason, it avoids the talking head doc clichés, and captures the master at times of rest and reflection. Napping backstage with a hot towel on his face, asking Ralph if he should snore in tune, chatting idly in the car, and joking in a faceless hotel room, it offers a warm and generous sketch of a man burnishing his legend.

The most precious moment in the Emmy-nominated show is an impromptu recitation of the lyrics to "Love Came, which he felt were so desperate he refused to write music to them, so he sent them off to Billy Strayhorn. With a wink in his voice, he asks Ralph if he'd like to hear it. Placing some tape in the reel-to-reel, Duke spins Strayhorn's piano, and recites. It's a poem of youth and its disillusionment, and improbably buoyant. After his "blues are ended by love, he asks what comes next, and he'll "never know why/With a bit of a sigh/Love turned/And went/Away. He rests between the last three phrases, and then, with a smile, emphasizes and stretches the last syllable in "Away," until its decay acquires some weary acceptance by its speaker, as if this departure was inevitable, might as well laugh it off.

A Concert of Sacred Music at Grace Cathedral is glimpsed briefly in Love You Madly, but is contained in full on the second program. Aside from a brief history of it at the beginning, it is all performance. Duke's concert was one of many celebrating the completion of Grace Cathedral in the Nob Hill district of San Francisco, and it is not one of his finest works, although it inevitably has its moments of brilliance.

It is an attempt to combine the sacred and the profane, hymns and swing, and sometimes the seams show through. This is especially the case on "In the Beginning, God," where Jon Hendricks alternates between devotional and scat, with nary a transition between. The contribution of The Speaking Choir, tonelessly chanting the books of the bible, is a gimmick more suited to educational television.

But Ellington being Ellington, there are some gems, including his dizzying solo work, "New World A-Comin'," and a ravishing take on "Come Sunday by Esther Marrow. The finale, "David Danced Before the Lord," has a choice tap solo by the "most super levianthonic, rhythmaturgically syncopated tapstaticianimist Bunny Briggs, although it's marred by poor camera work—you barely get a glance at those magic feet of his.


Track Listing

Love You Madly

Rockin In Rhythm; Take The A Train; Far East Suite; In My Solitude; Sophisticated Lady; Satin Doll; Cottontail; Moon Indigo; Jeeps Blues; The Lords Prayer; Come Sunday; Love Came; Things Aint What They Used To Be.

A Concert of Sacred Music

Overture to Black, Brown and Beige; Tell Me Its The Truth; In The Beginning, God; Aint But The One; New World A-Comin; The Lords Prayer; Come Sunday; David Danced Before The Lord.


Shop

Book Reviews
What is Jazz?
Best of / Year End
What is Jazz?
CD/LP/Track Review
Building a Jazz Library
Read more articles
At The Cotton Club
At The Cotton Club
Storyville Records
2015
buy
Duke Ellington In Grona Lund
Duke Ellington In...
Storyville Records
2014
buy
The Duke At Fargo 1940 Special 60th Anniversary Edition
The Duke At Fargo...
Storyville Records
2013
buy
[no cover]
In Grand Company
JJ-Tracks
2013
buy
The Ellington Suites
The Ellington Suites
Original Jazz Classics Remasters
2013
buy
[no cover]
Piano In The...
JJ-Tracks
2012
buy
Miles Davis Miles Davis
trumpet
Charlie Parker Charlie Parker
sax, alto
Count Basie Count Basie
piano
Charles Mingus Charles Mingus
bass, acoustic
Ella Fitzgerald Ella Fitzgerald
vocalist
Benny Goodman Benny Goodman
clarinet
Glenn Miller Glenn Miller
trombone
Cab Calloway Cab Calloway
composer/conductor

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.