Saturday, September 20, 2008

Don Ellis: His Final Years

( Naar het Nederlands-Vlaamse deel met een twintig jaar oude opname van de Moonlight Broadcasters en een onbekend Duriumlabel) DON ELLIS: MAY TIME RESTORE? DON ELLIS: HIS OWN SOUND DON ELLIS: HIS FINAL YEARS
Ken Orton loves to publish his Don Ellis biography: “In Search of Don Ellis, Forgotten Genius” – written in American English - completed and copyrighted in October 2007. There are well over 800 pages of text and over 200 pages contained in the “Picture Galleries”, that include many rare, unpublished shots.
Although he has tried over the past months to find a publisher or means of publishing, he was unsuccessfully. That’s why he loves to share this extensive article with the readers of the
Keep Swinging blog.

During the 60’s & 70’s, big bands and orchestras were finding it hard to continue, amid the much changed scene. The big band days were passed, so it was indeed a triumph that Don could form and re-form so many successful bands.
There were many other attributes to Don’s life: he composed music for voice, stage, modern ballet, symphony orchestra, in fact just about every medium in the performing arts. His movie scores included “The French Connection “, “The Seven Ups” and “French Connection II” and his music would be remembered in the 20th Century Fox Studios, long after his passing. His movie music, coupled with his compositions for the album “Haiku”, along with a number of other pieces, would give an idea as to the directions he was moving before he died.
A week before his death, when returning from an orchestral conducting session, Don was asked: “Would he aspire to Symphony conducting? – “Who knows?”, he answered.

Don had suffered all through the 70’s. It was around 1969 when depression and doubts began to degrade his life. Admitted to hospital for long periods on two occasions with a chronic heart condition, he underwent shock treatment when his heart actually stopped. Doctors urged him to stop playing the instruments that he loved: his trumpet and his drums, that had also become very important to him. Yet, with all the suffering that he endured, he fought on, still performing and composing exceptional music works. He featured himself more on the fluegelhorn and superbone rather than the more physically demanding trumpet but, because of the still high physical demands involved, he was forced to give up the drums completely. In April 1978, his orchestra played their last concert. Don Ellis collapsed and died of a heart attack in the presence of his parents, in the evening of December 17, 1978.

I love to share with you two fragments from a 1968 show featuring some great trumpet players, including Don Ellis. Enjoy the show, introduced by Al Hirt with Dizzy Gillespie, Pete Candioli and, of course, Don Ellis.

It is difficult to write an account of Don in just a few pages, so therefore I have not tried to include details of recordings, movies and the brief details of his career, that have been written and re-written before, for this is all to be found via the internet. You have to listen to his available albums – if you have not already done so – to begin to understand his ability. Even then, his true potential cannot be imagined. Those people who saw him perform in concerts, in all fields of music: with Gunther Schuller, Leonard Bernstein, Lukos Foss, Zubin Mehta, Stan Kenton (in symphonic content) and with the many groups and big bands, are the lucky ones and those musicians and artists who worked with Don, they are the privileged ones.
The written articles and accounts about Don generally give the same overall impressions, sometimes incorrect suppositions – that tend to grow as the years pass - and very rarely do they try to take more than a surface scan.
It was my friendship with Don’s parents that first embarked me on my way to make a study “as close as possible”, not only of Don’s music, but his life, his feelings and his ambitions. I was given access to music, personal diaries, letters and an abundance of material relating to his life. Before his parents passed on, I made them a promise that I would endeavour to write an in-depth biography about their son. This same promise was made to Don’s lead trumpet player, the late Glenn Stuart, who became a close friend of mine.
For over 20 years, I have studied, researched, interviewed and written, in my attempt to fulfil those promises.
The biography: “In Search of Don Ellis, Forgotten Genius” – written in American English - was completed and copyrighted in October 2007.
May time restore the memory of Don Ellis?
May Don Ellis live again!

Ken Orton
August 2008

DISQUES Souvenir
Han Enderman, the Dutch record label watcher, pointed me to a rare Durium label that was on eBay some days ago. It was not yet in my Hit of the week-Durium Discographies, so ...... It's a French Hit of the week release, with the DISQUES Souvenir label, which was probably sold in Paris as a souvenir during the 1930s. Mind the picture of the Eifeltower on the label.

(no band name) ( = Phil Spitalny's Music) [2tp-tb-2cl as-cl ts-2v-p-g-tu-dm-vo-(male)vo3] Phil Spitalny dir., Eddie Lang g, Paul Small vo, ETON BOYS vo4: (Jack Day bariton, Earl Smith 1st Tenor, Art Gentry 2nd Tenor, Chas. Day bass)Recorded New York City, Mar. 1932+ Au Plaisir de vous Revoir ( = Auf Wiedersehen, My Dear) - no matrix number ( originally 1203 A ) - DISQUES Souvenirs. ( no catalogue number). (Originally Hit of the week C5-D1)
+ MARTA - no matrix number ( originally 1203 A) - DISQUES Souvenirs (no catalogue number)
Are there collectors who have more records with this French DISQUES Souvenir label?
This contribution has also been posted at the Hit of te week blog.
Keep swinging

Hans Koert

Nederlands ( To the English part with the third contribution in the DON ELLIS TRIPTYCH by his biographer Ken Orton)

Twintig jaar geleden, op 20 september 1988, namen de Moonlight Broadcasters, een retro-danceband o.l.v. Klaus Jacobi en Keith Nichols, in Londen een plaat op getiteld Radio Nights voor Stomp Off ( SOS 1193)
De plaat wordt vastgelegd als een radioprogramma zoals dat begin jaren dertig geklonken zou kunnen hebben; net als toen gesponsord ( door de Autobahn Automobiles Corporation of America ) en elk nummer aangekondigd. Het is een plaat, die hierdoor wat onnatuurlijk overkomt, maar muziek bevat die me doet denken aan de hoogtijdagen van bands als de Pasadena Roof Orchestra, die we verschillende keren in Rotterdam in de Harbour Jazz Club hebben horen spelen. Die Pasadena Roof Orchestra vond ik onlangs weer op LP (In Town) (TRA 314). Nostalgie ......

Ken Orton schreef een uitgebreide biografie over Don Ellis. De biografie, “In Search of Don Ellis, Forgotten Genius” ( geschreven in het Engels) is klaar en nu is het wachten op een uitgever. Het bestaat uit meer dan 800 pagina’s tekst en meer dan 200 pagina’s foto’s, waarvan vele zeldzame en nog niet eerder gepubliceerde foto’s. Helaas is het Ken nog niet gelukt een uitgever te vinden en wil daarom graag zijn boek aanbevelen in dit uitgebreide essay. Zal de tijd de herinnering aan Don Ellis rechtzetten? De tijd zal het leren. Onlangs publiceerde ik het eerste en tweede deel van het drieluik over Don Ellis, getiteld: Don Ellis: De Tijd Zal Het Leren en Don Ellis: Een Nieuw Geluid. Het laatste deel, Don Ellis: Zijn Laatste Jaren verschijnt morgen.
Hans Koert -
DISQUES Souvenir
Han Enderman, de onvermoeibare label-watcher wees me op een zeldzame kartonnen Duriumplaat, die ik nog nooit gezien had en die met dit label nog niet in mijn
Hit of the week-Durium Discografieën voorkwam. De muziek werd eerder uitgebracht in de Verenigde Staten als Hit of the week. De plaat werd waarschijnlijk rond 1934 als aandenken verkocht in Parijs. Let op het Eifeltorentje op het label.

(geen bandnaam) ( = Phil Spitalny's Music) [2tp-tb-2cl as-cl ts-2v-p-g-tu-dm-vo-(male)vo3] Phil Spitalny dir., Eddie Lang g, Paul Small vo, ETON BOYS vo4: (Jack Day bariton, Earl Smith 1st Tenor, Art Gentry 2nd Tenor, Chas. Day bass)Opgenomen in New York City, Mar. 1932
+ Au Plaisir de vous Revoir ( = Auf Wiedersehen, My Dear) - geen matrixnummer ( origineel 1203 A ) - DISQUES Souvenirs. ( geen catalogusnummer). (origineel als Hit of the week C5-D1)
+ MARTA - geen matrixnummer ( origineel 1203 A) - DISQUES Souvenirs (geen catalogusnummer)
Zijn er verzamelaars, die nog meer van deze DISQUES Souvenir-label platen in hun verzameling hebben?
Bedankt Han voor je speurwerk.
Deze bijdrage is ook (in het Engels) geplaatst op de Hit of the week blog.
Keep swinging

Hans Koert

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Anonymous Kevin Hurst sr. said...

This site is amazing, informative and to the point. Don Ellis was a great artist whom USA should have considered a national treasure. His music was very accessable and even funky when it had to be. Such an uncompromising artist (like Roland Kirk) should have flourished in the 70s when the recording technology and stereo equipment became affordable. But then they played live for peanuts and did not realize why rock groups asked for so much money. Overhead, health benefits, expenses and just taking care of family and things to consider in any job.- Kevin Hurst sr.

8:27 PM  
Anonymous Brian Todd said...

I was fortunate enough to see the band live in October of 1973, about the time of the Soaring album, at Cal Tech in Pasadena, California. I had only learned of the band less than a year earlier. I was a 16 year old kid, already serious about music (sax). To this day I try to turn people on to his music. I've even managed to track down a copy of his book The New Rhythm Book through the interlibrary loan program, which I unashamedly scanned. It's rare to find such innovators.

8:03 AM  

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