Total Pageviews

Bebop Spoken There

Lou Donaldson: "(On Art Blakey) Everything changed. Especially when the women came in, sat down in the front row, and raised their skirts above their knees. Then the drums got louder, the tempos got faster, and every tune was a drum solo" - (JazzTimes, November 2019.)

Archive

Today Saturday December 14

Afternoon

Jazz

Anth Purdy - Isabella Community Centre, Ogle Drive, Blyth NE24 5JF. Tel: 01670 543773. 11:00am-1:00pm. Free. Christmas Fair.

Jazz Attack - Sage Gateshead, St Mary's Square, Gateshead Quays, Gateshead NE8 2JR. Tel: 0191 443 4661. 3:30pm. Free (concourse). Young Musicians Live! YMP Winter Festival.

Jambone - Sage Gateshead, St Mary's Square, Gateshead Quays, Gateshead NE8 2JR. Tel: 0191 443 4661. 4:00pm. Free but ticketed (Sage Two). Young Musicians Live! YMP Winter Festival.

Evening

Strictly Smokin’ Big Band - Gosforth Civic Theatre, Regents Farm Road, Gosforth, Newcastle NE3 3HD. Tel: 0191 284 3700. 8:00pm. £12.00. + bf. Second night of two.

Sold Out!

-----

Blues/Funk/Soul

Loft Boys - Billy Bootleggers, Nelson St, Newcastle NE1 5AN. 9:00pm. Free.

To the best of our knowledge, details of the above events are correct but may be subject to alteration.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Christmas Celebration @ Coventry Cathedral - A Concert of Sacred Music by Duke Ellington - Dec. 29

(Review by Cormac Loane).
As a resident of the West Midlands for over 30 years, I have often visited the beautiful and inspiring Coventry Cathedral. And, each time I have done so, I have recalled a photograph I saw in Jazz Journal during the mid-1960s of the Duke Ellington Orchestra performing there. So when I found out recently that ITV footage of that 1966 concert was to be shown at the Cathedral on December 29 (last night!) this year, this was too good an opportunity to miss. 

The concert was the European premiere of Duke Ellington’s first Concert of Sacred Music, and it reportedly came about because Ellington, having heard about the opening of the new Coventry Cathedral in 1962, contacted the Cathedral authorities to ask if they would be interested in hosting the event. A film of the concert, shown on ITV television at the time, was thought to have been lost long ago. However, it was recently rediscovered, and through the work of Ghost Town, an archive television project, working in collaboration with other local organisations, the film has now been digitally restored in preparation for this, the first public viewing in over 50 years.

When I arrived at the Cathedral an hour before the scheduled viewing I was amazed to find it already packed out with the licensed bar and gentle background music giving this place of worship something of the ambiance of a jazz club. 

The black and white film, entitled Celebration, had characteristic 1960s camera work and the sound quality was less than brilliant, but it demonstrated the incredible innovation and creativity of Duke Ellington’s sacred music. This was quite different to the music I had heard at his 70th Birthday Concert which I attended (along with Lance) at Newcastle City Hall in 1969. Although equally brilliant, the City Hall concert comprised mainly performances of Ellington’s standard jazz repertoire.

The Celebration film opened with New World A-Comin’, a really interesting solo piano performance by Ellington after which the Duke spoke briefly, but inspiringly, about the new world he was looking forward to – “a world without war” and “a world without categorisation.” It was particularly appropriate for these words to be spoken in Coventry, the City of Peace and Reconciliation, and they are, arguably, as relevant today as they were in 1966. This was followed by an extremely slow and haunting performance of Come Sunday, featuring  Johnny Hodges (my alto sax hero until Lance sold me my first Charlie Parker record at Windows in 1969). In the Beginning God included almost operatic-style singing from baritone George Webb, an exciting tenor sax solo from Paul Gonsalves and choral contributions from the Cliff Adams Singers – well-known at the time for their long-running BBC radio show Sing Something Simple. The concert continued with the calypso-inspired West Indian Pancake and ended with La Plus Belle Africaine, featuring a fantastic drum solo from Sam Woodyard (using mainly hands rather than sticks) and a bowed double bass solo from John Lamb. In the course of the concert, we also heard beautifully controlled and mellow playing from clarinetist Jimmy Hamilton and trombonist Lawrence Brown, as well as unbelievably high-note (yet tasteful) trumpet playing from Cat Anderson.

It was a truly memorable occasion and a very special experience to hear Duke Ellington’s wonderful Sacred Music in the same beautiful space where it was performed and recorded all those years ago.
Cormac.

No comments :