ALL ARTS Celebrates Essentially Ellington

S2019 E3 | FULL EPISODE

EP. 3: Ellington Through the Ages

Experience the 2019 Essentially Ellington Competition & Festival. One of the most innovative jazz education events in the world, high school musicians from across North America travel to NYC to spend three days immersed in workshops, jam sessions, rehearsals and performances at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Hosted by musicians and EE alums, Roxy Coss and Patrick Bartley.

AIRED: June 09, 2019 | 1:25:02
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
TRANSCRIPT

♪♪

[ Cheers and applause ]

As always, welcome to the House of Swing.

We have a wonderful concert tonight

with a lot of Duke Ellington's music.

He wrote over 2,000 songs.

I'm not gonna do a lot of talking,

but they're gonna every decade from the '20s to the '70s,

so you'll get a sense of the breadth and depth

of the man's music and his genius.

First half is gonna be music from the '20s, '30s, and '40s,

and the second half will be '50s, '60s, and '70s.

Uh, what else can I say with any level of interest?

These are all fantastic young musicians

that we've had the pleasure of hearing play.

Some of them we've mentored down through the years.

There are four of us elder...persons...

[ Laughter ] ...up here -- Mr. Dan Block...

[ Applause ]

...Wycliffe Gordon...

[ Cheers and applause ]

...Rodney Whitaker.

[ Cheers and applause ]

We're gonna get right to it and start with 1934.

This is another Ellington short form masterpiece.

It's entitled "Stompy Jones."

Stompy Jones was a road manager,

and if you're on the road with a band,

you better love your road manager,

'cause that's your lifeline.

We hope you enjoy this -- "Stompy Jones."

Y'all ready?

Unh, two, a-one, two, three, four.

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[ Clarinet solo ]

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[ Trumpet solo ]

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[ Baritone saxophone solo ]

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[ Trombone solo ]

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[ Solo ends ]

[ Applause ]

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[ Cheers and applause ]

That was indeed Dan Block...

Riley Mulherkar...

Ben Cohen...

Sam Chess...

Jeffrey Miller...

[ Applause continues ]

TJ Reddick on the drums.

Now we're gonna take you to 1930...

and this -- And, you know, this earlier music

is really much harder to play than later music.

These kinds of grooves and what it takes to make the music hot,

takes a lot of concentration and ability to play

without cliched and corny.

To actually bring something to the earlier music,

it takes a lot of dedication.

So, this one is very difficult.

It was in a film called "Check and Double Check" --

1930 Hollywood film --

and it's entitled "Old Man Blues,"

and it's an example of super-hot jazz of the jazz age.

One, two, three, four, unh!

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[ Muted trombone and clarinet duet ]

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[ Alto saxophone solo ]

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[ Cheers and applause ]

Wycliffe Gordon.

Dan Block.

Anthony Hervey.

Zoe Obadia.

Somebody tell Noah to stop messing with me up here.

[ Chuckles ]

This is...

a piece from 1929,

and it's entitled "The Mooch."

[ Applause ] Okay.

[ Tapping foot ]

One, two, one, two, three, four.

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[ Solo ends ]

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[ Clarinet solo ]

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[ Muted trombone solo ]

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[ Solo stops ]

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[ Muted trumpet solo ]

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[ Cheers and applause ]

Jumaane Smith playing all kinds of trumpet.

Jumaane Smith.

Jeffrey Miller expressing himself on the trombone.

Patrick Bartley, the clarinet.

TJ Reddick making it feel right.

Now we'll like to play a piece composed by...

Duke and his trombonist Juan Tizol.

Juan Tizol was from Puerto Rico,

and he was also the band's copyist.

And when they did the film "Check and Double Check,"

Juan Tizol had to do the film in black face.

So Duke used to always say his band was integrated

long before anyone's band.

[ Laughter ] This is a classic

entitled "Caravan." [ Applause ]

And I think Endea is gonna count this off.

We hope you enjoy this.

Two, one, two, three, four.

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[ Trombone solo ]

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[ Guitar solo ]

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[ Baritone saxophone solo ]

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[ Solo ends ]

[ Applause ]

[ Trombone solo ]

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[ Cheers and applause ]

Sam Chess on the trombone.

Gabe Schnider on the guitar...

...Ben Cohen...

...and the rest of us.

Now we'd like to play a piece that comes from 1940.

There's a very characteristic saxophone solo.

When the saxophone section plays,

they set a pretty quick tempo.

It's based on the harmonic progression

of George Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm."

It is about Br'er Rabbit,

who became Bugs Bunny... [ Laughter ]

...and who was known as "Cottontail."

We hope you enjoy this.

[ Cheers and applause ]

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[ Tenor saxophone solo ]

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[ Applause ]

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[ Cheers and applause ]

Julian Lee, the tenor saxophone.

Ben Cohen on the baritone.

Sean Mason on the piano.

Riley Mulherkar on the trumpet.

The saxophone section, Patrick Bartley...

Zoe Obadia...

Dan Block, Julian Lee, and Ben Cohen.

Now, this is a beautiful song.

Duke wrote great songs about ladies.

The ladies loved him, and he loved them.

He had no problem with it,

and he loved to write a beautiful song about a lady.

He was one of the biggest flirts in the world,

and he used to say, "Anybody can say nice things,

but mine are also accurate."

[ Laughter ]

He was a man with tremendous generosity of spirit,

and he left things always in a much better state

than they were when he arrived.

This was supposed to be

a movement of a piece that he called "The French Suite."

It was after World War II,

and it ended up just standing alone.

It never became famous like another one of his --

others of his pieces,

but it was just as hauntingly beautiful and original.

I will guarantee you've never heard

anything that sounds like this.

Duke's motto was always be a number one yourself

and not a number two of somebody else.

So he loved individuality, and he celebrated

that part of the American spirit and the democratic ethos.

He was a master of the blues esthetic,

and this is a great time for us to reach for Duke

and to remember his music,

because he's unapologetically fundamental

while still always innovative.

And whenever we start to waver

in our understanding of our fundamentals and who we are,

it's good to reach for those people who did not waver.

And he never wavered in his 50 years.

[ Cheers and applause ]

And you'll see the beauty of this piece.

It's entitled "Lady of the Lavender Mist."

One...

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[ Cheers and applause ]

Dan Block on the clarinet.

Sam Chess on that sweet trombone.

That was sweet.

Sweet, sweet.

So, y'all see what I'm talking about

with that special Ellingtonian lyricism?

Now we're going to play a song

that comes from the "Perfume Suite."

Duke wrote a piece that was all

the way different perfumes interact with different ladies.

Don't laugh.

It was very effective for him... [ Laughter ]

...those types of things.

And this is a movement that's entitled "Dancers in Love,"

and you get to snap your fingers along with it.

Duke loved people snapping their fingers.

And there's some tapes of him giving long explanations of it.

Very detailed, but we're not gonna detail it.

We know all. This is many years later.

We can all snap.

You're gonna know the music cue that comes up,

and there's three snaps,

so we have to be quick.

It's going to feature Mr. Sean Mason on the piano

and Endea Owens on the bass.

[ Applause ]

[ Piano playing ]

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[ Bass playing ]

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[ Fingers snapping ]

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[ Cheers and applause ]

Sean Mason.

Endea Owens.

[ Cheering ]

That's right.

Beautiful.

This is 1931.

We're gonna conclude with classic "Rockin' in Rhythm."

[ Applause ]

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[ Trombone solo ]

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[ Clarinet solo ]

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[ Music stops ]

[ Music resumes ]

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[ Cheers and applause ]

Jumaane Smith on the trumpet.

Jeffrey Miller on the trombone.

Dan Block.

Sean Mason.

We are the future of jazz orchestra.

That's what we are.

[ Cheers and applause ] They are.

I'm just up here with them.

Thank you so much for coming out tonight.

We're gonna be back in 15 minutes

with music of the '50s, '60s, and '70s.

Thank you.

[ Cheers and applause ]

[ Cheers and applause ]

Lee: Welcome back to the second half of our show.

My name is Julian Lee. Thank you.

[ Applause ]

As Sean Mason sets the mood for this next piece,

I'll tell you a little bit about it.

Duke Ellington would love to write portraits

of people and musicians that he loved and adored.

This particular one we're going to play

is a portrait of Ella Fitzgerald,

the first lady of song. [ Applause ]

Yeah, give a round of applause for Ella Fitzgerald.

[ Cheers and applause ]

We're gonna play the first movement from her portrait,

and it is entitled "Royal Ancestry."

And Duke asks us to use our imaginations

and look through Ella's family album in our head,

and there we see strong people, people of royal ancestry,

sturdy people, intelligent people.

And so, with this first piece,

we hope to evoke the majesty of her majesty

with "Royal Ancestry."

Hope you enjoy.

[ Applause ]

One, two, one, two, three, four.

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[ Tenor saxophone solo ]

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[ Cheers and applause ]

Marsalis: Julian Lee.

Julian Lee.

Now we'd like to -- That was 1957.

Now we'd like to go to 1960.

Duke and Billy Strayhorn did their rendition of

Grieg's "Peer Gynt Suite."

As part of jazz,

Jelly Roll Morton always talked about

doing some type of jazz version of classics.

This movement we're about to hear

is entitled "Anitra's Dance."

It starts with the big four and goes on from there.

[ Snapping fingers ]

A-one, two, a-one, two, three.

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[ Alto saxophone solo ]

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[ Cheers and applause ]

Thank you.

Patrick Bartley on the alto saxophone.

Dan Block on the clarinet.

Julian Lee.

Endea Owens on the bass.

Now we're gonna go to 1961.

And this Duke and the band is in Paris with Louis Armstrong,

and there's a movie being made with...

Sidney Poitier,

Paul Newman,

Diahann Carroll, and Joanne Woodward,

so you know what they're doing. [ Laughter ]

They're doing what people doing when they're a couple in Paris,

and they're playing a lot of jazz.

This is a beautiful waltz entitled "Paris Stairs."

It's a very unusual piece,

but really shows off the art of Duke Ellingtonian elegance.

We hope you enjoy it.

A-one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four.

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[ Clarinet solo ]

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[ Guitar solo ]

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[ Applause ]

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[ Clarinet solo ]

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[ Cheers and applause ]

Gabe Schnider on the guitar.

Riley Mulherkar on the trumpet.

Dan Block on the clarinet.

Sean Mason on the piano.

Thank you so much.

I would like to go to a film score that Duke did

for Otto Preminger.

It was of a mystery film called "Anatomy of a Murder."

It's a fantastic score that he did.

This is one movement of it entitled "Almost Cried."

It features Noah Halpern on the trumpet.

One, two...

one, two, three, unh.

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[ Cheers and applause ]

Noah Halpern.

Noah Halpern on the trumpet.

Owens: Good evening, everyone. [ Cheers and applause ]

Alright. [ Chuckles ]

Okay.

Please give yourselves another round of applause

for being such a wonderful and beautiful audience.

Yes.

[ Applause ]

So, from the years 1926 to 1935,

Duke Ellington knew that he needed

an essential member in his band,

and for every great band,

there's an even better and greater bass player.

[ Cheers and applause ] [ Laughs ]

That's right!

So, Duke entitled Wellman Braud for this role,

and he was essential in creating the sound and the essence

of the Ellington big band.

So, in 1970, Duke Ellington wrote a piece for Wellman Braud

as part of his "New Orleans Suite"

entitled "Portrait of Wellman Braud,"

and this is how we keep Wellman Braud's spirit alive,

as well as Duke Ellington's.

We hope you enjoy.

[ Cheers and applause ]

One, two, a-one, two, three, four.

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[ Clarinet solo ]

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[ Bass solo ]

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[ Cheers and applause ]

Marsalis: Endea Owens on the bass.

Endea Owens.

Patrick Bartley on the clarinet.

Sean Mason on the piano.

And I just want y'all to know

a little something about just up here.

First, I want to say that just --

Endea was just playing.

I can remember when Rodney Whitaker first heard her.

I don't even know how old she was.

Probably...

But he said, "Man, there's a girl I know

played so much bass it's gonna scare you to death."

[ Laughter ]

She was...

And he was right.

[ Laughter ]

You know, what can I say just from --

When we look across the bandstand and we see her playing

with the type of spirit and feeling

that she has brought every time we've played in rehearsal,

the way it makes us feel.

She's also a fantastic teacher.

And I was looking at my trumpet section

and thinking about how much I love each and every one of them,

how long I've known them -- since they were young,

early in high school, freshman, sophomore --

and just the depth of their playing and the beauty of it,

you know, I almost get full,

but I don't want to give my age away.

'Cause the older you get,

the more you start crying for everything.

[ Laughter ] So you have to control yourself up here.

And, plus, Noah is messing with me so much

I don't feel like crying.

But I just say that, and that goes for all of us

and all of our young people -- we can remember hearing them

when they were 12, 13.

And, um, as the time passes, it becomes even more valuable

for us to have the opportunity to acknowledge them.

It's always people complaining about younger people,

and there's a kind of generation gap

that's been supported since the 1950s in our country, really.

You know, movies come out

where the band directors are cussing at people

and threatening to beat them up and all of that.

We don't do all that kind of stupid stuff.

We have our own kids to do that to.

[ Laughter ]

I was just joking, but we don't do that kind of stuff

because it's uphill out here to be serious about this music,

and we have unbelievable respect for them.

The young man that's about to play

is gonna play something called "The Banquet Scene"

from "Timon of Athens" --

a very mature piece of music written by Duke Ellington

in 1963.

I first heard him when he was 11 in middle school,

and he was fantastic then.

And I just...

I don't know I even started talking about all this --

just to say something.

But we hope you enjoy this "Banquet Scene"

from "Timon of Athens."

Patrick Bartley on the alto saxophone.

[ Cheers and applause ]

I think it's better, y'all.

I think it's better.

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[ Music ends ]

[ Cheers and applause ]

Patrick Bartley.

[ Cheers and applause ]

Thank you.

Now, this is a movement from "The Far East Suite"

which was -- I think it came out in '66.

This particular piece is from '63.

The band was functioning in an ambassadorial role

in the Near and Middle East,

but President Kennedy got killed,

and they were called back home.

They went back out to Japan in the Far East,

and Duke and Billy Strayhorn finished this piece.

This is a movement from --

The entire suite was called "The Far East Suite."

This is the eighth movement of it,

and it channels the feeling

of being in the Muslim countries at that time

and hearing the call to prayer.

The trombone is going to be inducted

into the responsibility of delivering that message.

And this is entitled "Amad."

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[ Solo ends ]

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[ Tenor trombone solo ]

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[ Solo ends ]

[ Applause ]

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[ Mouthpiece solo ]

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[ Applause ]

[ Soprano trombone solo ]

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[ Music ends ]

[ Cheers and applause ]

Marsalis: Wycliffe Gordon.

The soprano trombone.

Sam Chess on the tenor trombone.

Sean Mason on the piano.

[ Cheers and applause ]

Now, we'd like to conclude with a piece from 1970.

It's from an album entitled

"The Afro-Eurasian Eclipse."

Think about that.

That was long before they discovered the DNA strain.

Duke understood something

about all of us out here spinning on this globe

in the middle of somewhere.

This is entitled "Chinoiserie."

It features 10-bar phrases,

quatro harmony

like the sound of John Coltrane's band,

interesting contraponal lines,

Charleston vamp, like a boogaloo funk tune.

He was putting everything up in this.

[ Laughter ]

And it all sounds like Duke Ellington.

And that was his singular genius.

He knew how to bring people and things together

and let each of -- let whatever he brought together,

could retain its individuality and its essence,

but become even better by being

with other things.

We've been blessed by his music and with these young people

and the way they're playing the music tonight.

I just wish Duke and some of the fellas

from that generation could hear

what they're doing with the music.

Because they were always worried about

whether we would keep playing the music

and keep the spirit of it alive.

Great Jimmy Hamilton,

first Jazz At Lincoln Center orchestra that we had

consisted of members of my septet.

We were in our mid-20s at that time.

And the surviving members of Ellington's great band

from '55 to his death in '74.

We had people like Jimmy Woode,

Jimmy Hamilton, Clark Terry,

Britt Woodman,

Norris Turney, Joe Temperley,

Willie Cook...

Man: Buster Cooper.

Marsalis: ...Buster Cooper.

Buster was always clean. He was coming from Florida,

so, you know, he had his gear on.

And they taught us so much about playing this music

and how to be serious and to be cool at the same time.

You don't have to be a drag to be serious.

They cussed us out, and we loved them.

So we're gonna conclude with a piece entitled "Chinoiserie."

We hope you enjoy it,

and we certainly appreciate you coming out here tonight

in the House of Swing,

enjoying the music of the great Duke Ellington,

because we would not be in here if it were not for his music.

[ Cheers and applause ]

Thank you so much.

[ Cheers and applause ]

Man: Unh, unh.

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[ Tenor saxophone solo ]

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[ Music ends ]

[ Cheers and applause ]

We are the future of jazz orchestra.

Thank you so much.

[ Cheers and applause ]

Thank you for coming out tonight.

We hope you had an enjoyable evening.

Take care.

Have a good night. Thank you.

[ Cheers and applause continue ]

[ Cheers and applause continue ]

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