Lester 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 dâ€™Azur in 1966. We see glimpses of Paul Gonsalves, Russell Procope, Cat Anderson, Buster Cooper, Jimmy Hamilton and the other members of the â€™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 â€œThe Old Circus Turn-around Blues.â€
That track ended up as part of the eight-CD album Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington Cote dâ€™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. Itâ€™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.