Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Ellington in '58

I got my dad this DVD for his birthday, the Duke Ellington Orchestra live at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam in 1958, watched it with him and Mum last night:

I'm starting to realise that as he recedes into the past and is regarded less as an entertainer and more as a composer, Ellington may well come to be regarded as the greatest of American composers (of any kind of music). Who else might end up in that list, I wondered as I watched... Gershwin and Copland perhaps, Mingus certainly, also Riley, Reich, Moondog, Beefheart, Zappa...maybe even Marshall Jefferson, Derrick May and J. Dilla in time.

There's a fabulous (but barely listenable) bootleg of the Soft Machine trio lineup playing the same hall ten years later. I've listened to that a lot, so it's good to now be able to picture them there. That's several steps removed from Ellington's sound, but perhaps not as far as you might think — if you check out the last number in this video, it's pretty unhinged for its time. Robert Wyatt has always spoken highly of the Ellington Orchestra, and I could hear why, watching this.


Post a Comment

<< Home