Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

An important concert finally on CD

Duke Ellington in Coventry, 1966

The February 21, 1966 concert of the Duke Ellington Orchestra at Coventry Cathedral was a big deal.  "It’s one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done,” said Duke in an interview with TV Times, “...and the most important. It’s a personal statement. It’s a personal statement about belief." The concert has been very well documented with photographs from both the rehearsal and the concert itself. Here's a shot by Bill Wagg:

As well, the 55 minute television broadcast from ABC Midlands, first shown in April 1966, has apparently been re-shown recently on ITV in Britain, though I haven't yet found it on DVD or streaming video. Now, finally, we have this great-sounding CD from Storyville, due on June 8, 2018. Storyville knows its Duke; they have more than 100 Ellington titles in their catalogue. Their restoration engineers also have demonstrated that they can make the most out of pretty much any source material, and this disc ends up sounding pretty decent. The band is on top form; here is the lineup:

The orchestra added English vocalists for the concert, soloist George Webb and the Cliff Adam Singers, and they're very fine in their numbers. The band of course misses Billy Strayhorn, who died in May of the following year, but Duke's piano solos are first class and very moving. There's so much expression here; some of that comes of course from his deeply-held spiritual beliefs, but I expect he's already beginning to mourn the loss of his great collaborator.

Here's a lovely story about a 14-year old boy & his jazz-loving father listening in on Duke's rehearsal at the Cathedral.

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