Ellington At Work

Ellington Cote d'AzurLester Perkins, the proprietor of Jazz On The Tube, sent an alert to a rare opportunity to watch and listen to Duke Ellington rehearsing a new piece. This was on the French Cote d’Azur in 1966. We see glimpses of Paul Gonsalves, Russell Procope, Cat Anderson, Buster Cooper, Jimmy Hamilton and the other members of the ’66 band, even one of Tom Whaley, Ellington’s indispensable arranger and copyist (at :37). The video clip melds smoothly from rehearsal into performance and features chorus after chorus of Johnny Hodges deep into the “The Old Circus Turn-around Blues.”

That track ended up as part of the eight-CD album Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington Cote d’Azur Concerts. The box is still around, expensive as a new CD set, but possible to find used at a reasonable price, or as an MP3 download. It’s worth the search, full of top-notch performances by one of the best of Ellington’s latter-day bands and by Fitzgerald at her peak.

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  1. Tony Burrell, II says

    Doggone if that didn’t bring a smile to my face! I declare it looked like Johnny Hodges was smiling through his mouthpiece at times, spinning out chorus after chorus of seemingly effortless blues with his trademark sound.
    Really nice to see the rehearsal segment and hear Jimmy Hamilton knocking off a few choruses while seated as well.
    Thanks for posting this Doug.

  2. says

    More thanks Doug; the very epitomy of relaxed cool. Such cohesion for apparently so little effort, particularly from the Woodyard Man, not doing much, but lifting everybody on a swinging wave,

  3. Светлана says

    A really fascinating video! Is it my favorite Harry Carney beating time at :3.58?
    Lester Perkins sometimes posts exclusively impressive videos.

  4. Dick Unsworth says

    What a great sound from the Duke’s big band. How long did big bands like this last ?– three trombones, a lineup of reeds in the first row, Johny Hodges holding first place forever (the piece only SOUNDED lasting forever). I must look around and try to find part of this CD. Thanks for brightening the day.

  5. K B Mistry says

    Brought tears of joy to my face! Johnny Hodges – what authority, what cool, what a conversation you make with your horn!