A new Ellington CD release from the Storyville label:
"Duke Ellington "An Intimate Piano Session 1972"
Scheduled for release 3/17/17
"Previously unreleased music from the fingertips of Duke Ellington: An intimate 1972 session with the Duke on solo piano plus three bonus tracks from 1969. The scene is 311 West 57 Street, New York, Mediasounds Studio A, Friday August 25th, 1972. Duke Ellington was having an engagement with a smaller group at The Rainbow Grill, as he had had several times before, finishing the gig on the following night. But on the 25th, he chose also to go to the recording studio, just himself at the piano together with his two band singers Anita Moore and Tony Watkins, to record some pieces which were not played so often. The recordings remained in his ”stockpile” until now, this being the first commercial issue of these beautiful pieces.
The late Sjef Hoefsmit wrote about the session when he heard it back in 1994: ”It is difficult to understand why these magnificent recordings never have been issued”. Well, here they are at last – for all to enjoy! Among the gems you'll find tracks such as two takes of the Billy Strayhorn composition “Lotus Blossom”, the Duke’s own “Le Sucrier Velours” and his emotional “My Mother, My Father and Love”. The latter was often performed with the Duke himself as a vocalist, reciting his own lyrics. No doubt the words meant a great deal to him, both personally and as part of his positive stories about the black communities in the USA.
The new CD contains three additional bonus tracks. On November 7th, 1969, Duke Ellington and his orchestra played two concerts in Rotterdam, in the famous De Doelen concert hall. The second concert of the evening was prolonged, as the public wouldn’t let Ellington go. So while the rest of the bandmembers left the stage, a quartet with Duke, Wild Bill Davis, bassist Victor Gaskin and drummer Rufus Jones stayed, and played four more numbers, much to the delight of the sold-out house. You can hear the whole band concert on the Storyville CD “Rotterdam 1969” (1018440), and here we offer the ”afterparty” music by the quartet."
A personal recollection from Maestro Maurice Peress
A Delicious Ellington Vignette:
Joe Morgan, Duke’s publicist, who I met while hitching a ride with Ellington in Harry Carney‘s Cadillac back to Manhattan from their gig on Staten Island, told me a story about Ellington’s historic meeting with Harry Truman. The band was playing in D.C. and Joe got Duke a date for a meeting with the President. Duke decided his best blue suit, always his color of choice, was still hanging in his closet back in Manhattan. So he sent his driver to New York the morning of the appointment so that Presidentially proper “threads” could be driven back from the Apple. Joe was waiting at the White House with the press corps sweating out Duke’s arrival when at the last moment Duke arrives most royally in his Cadillac dressed in his best blues for what was officially scheduled as a ten or so minute private visit with the President of the United States.
Well the press core was abuzz when an hour or so later Duke emerged all smiles. The Prez and the Duke clearly had a good time talking music and whatever, we will never know, Duke being the most enlightened and thought provoking of conversationalists. The moment has been preserved on a candid photo with Duke presenting the President the holograph (manuscript) score of his newest composition “Harlem” commissioned by Toscanini’s NBC Symphony.