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Jazz Articles


Duke Ellington & His Orchestra: Rotterdam 1969

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Here's a succulent and long-hidden treat for Duke Ellington aficionados: a wide-ranging and reasonably well-recorded concert performance by the Ellington orchestra from 1969 at the Do Doelen Concert Hall in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Many of Ellington's tried-and-true favorites are here, along with a number of lesser-known themes such as tenor Paul Gonsalves' feature, “Up Jump"; “Come Off the Veldt (and Into the Bush)," a showpiece for drummer Rufus Jones; alto Johnny Hodges' star turn, “Black Butterfly"; and trumpeter Cat Anderson's ...


Prelude to a Kiss by Duke Ellington

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Last month's initial installment of this column opened with an introduction to the concept of analyzing jazz standards for the purpose of adding to our understanding about the structure and elements of great songs having enduring qualities. I did not feel it required mentioning that a song's final structure and the process of songwriting were completely different viewpoints. One purview implies looking back at a final product of art and the other requires looking ahead at a blank page of ...


Duke Ellington And His Orchestra: Duke Ellington's Treasury Shows - Vol. 21

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This volume of the Duke Ellington Treasury Shows commemorates the death on July 20 1946 of Joe “Tricky Sam" Nanton, one of the founding fathers of the band's early “jungle" sound that helped make its name at the Cotton Club. Nanton was the first musician to die with Ellington and the leader--a highly superstitious man--took it as a bad omen. As indeed it was, heralding an end to stable line-ups and an extended period of “musical chairs" ...


Why Jazz? A Concise Guide

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Why Jazz? A Concise Guide Kevin Whitehead 184 pages ISBN-10: 0199731187 Oxford, University Press 2011 Small books on big themes are a tough gig. Jazz is a uniquely American, musically challenging, and highly improvisational musical form. Jazz is also a rather vexing topic to explain to the uninitiated (or even to the initiated, who quarrel much over it). Several years ago, I played some late-period work of John Coltrane (the first four ...


How Teachers can Swing in the Classroom

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I am a jazz aficionado as well as a philosophy professor. Being in front of a classroom teaching is my favorite place on earth, second to a good jazz club with hip friends. In the midst of a philosophy class, I may wax enthusiastic about the transcendent qualities of a John Coltrane saxophone solo or the preternatural swing of Buddy Rich's timekeeping or the song-writing and band-leading genius of Duke Ellington. These comments are not merely idiosyncratic. They reflect something ...


Duke Ellington And His Orchestra: Rotterdam 1969

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Right up to the end Duke Ellington maintained an ability to surprise lesser mortals with his impish wit. In 1969 he visited the White House to celebrate his 70th birthday and kissed President Richard Nixon on the cheek four times. When Nixon asked why four times, Ellington replied, “One for each cheek." Tricky Dicky was--as they say nowadays--totally gobsmacked but regained his composure in time to present Ellington with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest ...


Top 15 "Read" Articles: 2015

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All About Jazz tracks how often an article is read, and the articles listed below represent our top 15 published in 2015. Deconstructing Money Jungle Duke Ellington by Graham E Peterson Published: October 23, 2015 John Coltrane and the Meaning of Life John Coltrane by Douglas Groothuis Published: January 22, 2015 Kind of Purple: Jazz Musicians on ...


Duke Ellington And His Orchestra: The Treasury Shows, Vol 20

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What makes this album stand out among the welter of Treasury Show releases is that most of the tracks feature Oscar Pettiford on bass. Duke Ellington hired many excellent bass players but only two who were great. The first was Jimmy Blanton. In the short time he was with the band--from 1939-1941--he transformed the bass into a front line instrument, changing its role in jazz forever. When he died, aged just 23, from tuberculosis, Duke searched despairingly ...

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