Thursday, September 18, 2008

Don Ellis: His Own Sound

( Naar het Nederlands-Vlaamse deel met Pia Beck (83 jaar) en Jazz By The Sea 2008) 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There are well over 800 pages of text and over 200 pages contained in the “Picture Galleries”, that include many rare, unpublished shots.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.

The journey into experimentation became well under way, with the formation of the “Improvisational Workshop Orchestra”, where his developing interest in odd-meter time signatures began to emerge. In fact, a number of his later recorded big band charts began within this ensemble.

It was Don’s move to California and Los Angeles that would bring about so many new visions and directions in his music. His association with Hari Har Rao brought about his interest in Indian music and rhythms, and along with Emil Richards, they formed the “Hindustani Jazz Sextet”, that combined American Jazz with Indian music. There would be 3 different “Hindustani Sextets” over the years.
From the initial sextet, the “Hindustani Jazz Orchestra” was born, later to become known as the “Don Ellis Orchestra”. This was the band that “stopped the show” at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1966. The recording of their concert was funded by Don and, along with other recordings, made at the Pacific Jazz Festival, 1966 and Shelly’s Manne Hole, 1977, two L.P albums were in turn issued by the Pacific Jazz label.
The changing orchestra throughout the late 1960’s brought increasingly more success and their recordings for Columbia began with a highly successful album that gained the band a worldwide reputation. Moving into the more commercial output of the Jazz/Rock/Soul combination – although retaining much of the demanding orchestration associated with Don and the ensemble – a new group of Rock enthusiasts were then drawn into an expanding following, and ideas were transmitted to many rock type groups of the period. It must be remembered, however, that jazz critics, musicians, purists, did not favour these directions. This “Underground” period did not last for, as the 60’s drew to a close, the band quickly moved back towards swinging jazz – in odd meters – with an ensemble that is judged by many enthusiasts to be Don’s finest.
In the early 1970’s, a completely new approach to big band instrumentation was presented. The use of string quartet, French horn, within the low bass, various woodwinds – doubled by the saxophone section to produce extended textures – combined with the usual trumpets, trombones, tuba, piano bass and the 4 percussionists. The resulting sounds resembled instrumental choirs in new dimensions, plus all the sounds that were associated with big bands.
This combination of sounds would continue intermittently until shortly before Don’s death, although there would be many other directions in which his constant quest into sound would lead, that included an ensemble which used no electronics and combined a vocal quartet performing as an instrumental section within a reduced big band. There would also be a short period when Don would form a standard - 5 saxes, etc – “Electrophonic” big band. Within all the orchestra re-formations, Don would organise trio, quartet and other groups.

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. (to be continued)

Ken Orton

The first part of this triptych: In Search of Don Ellis, Forgotten Genius is titled Don Ellis: May Time Restore?. The third part: Don Ellis: His Final Years will be published soon.
Today the Dutch born Pia Beck, piano player and vocalist, hopes to celebrate her 83rd birthday. Born in The Hague she lived the last decades in Torremolinos in Spain. She started her career in The Miller Sextet after the Second World War and soon founded her own group. She made a hit with the tune: Pia's Boogie. During the 1950s and early 1960 she performed each year in the US. Since the mid 1960s she lived in Spain where she had a bar. She played her final concert five years ago in Hilversum, in the center of The Netherlands.

Keep swinging

Hans Koert

Nederlands ( To the English translation )

Deze week vindt in onze provincie Zeeland, meer precies Walcheren, het Jazz By The Sea festival plaats. Dit jaarlijkse festival staat gepland van 16 september ( het openingsconcert vond eergisteren plaats in Zoutelande) tot komende zondag, de 21ste september. De bands die optreden spelen traditionele jazz en komen vooral uit de streek of net daar buiten, zoals de Jay Jay's Border Jazzmen, die gisteren in de Muziektent in Zoutelande optraden of de New Orleans Second Line Jazzband die morgen in Domburg te horen zijn. Je bent nog niet te laat voor dit festival als je dit weekend richting Walcheren af zakt; de meeste concerten staan namelijk gepland voor 19, 20 en 21 september 2008. Je kunt dan terecht in Domburg op verschillende podia, in Meliskerke in de World of Silk ( Zijde Museum), Westkapelle ( Strandpaviljoen), Oostkapelle (Hotel Bos en Duin), Dishoek (Hotel Eetcafé Duinlust) en Vlissingen ( Restaurant Solskin). Het Champagne Charlie Trio, deel van
Champagne Charlie, treedt as. zondag op in De Leugenaar in Vlissingen vanaf 5 uur 's middags. Je vindt alle informatie op hun website.
Hans Koert -

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, exclusief voor lezers van de Keep swinging blog, zijn boek aanbevelen in met dit uitgebreide essay. Zal de tijd de herinnering aan Don Ellis rechtzetten? Het eerste deel vandit drieluik is getiteld: Don Ellis: De Tijd Zal Het Leren. Morgen deel twee: Don Ellis; Een Nieuw Geluid.

Vandaag hoopt Pia Beck haar 83ste verjaardag te vieren. Deze pianiste, zangeres werd geboren in Den Haag en leefde de laatste veertig jaar in Torremolinos in Spanje. Ze begon haar carriere na de Tweede Wereldoorlog in het Miller Sextet . Een paar jaar later formeerde ze haar eigen groep en kreeg een hit met Pia's Boogie. In de jaren vijftig en begin jaren zestig reisde ze elk jaar naar de Verenigde Staten om te spelen. Sinds het midden van de jaren zestig had ze een bar in Spanje, waar ze de rest van haar leven bleef wonen. Ze nam vijf jaar geleden in Hilversum afscheid van het Grote Publiek.

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Anonymous David G. said...

knew Don in the '60s when he lived on Grand Island (middle of the Niagara River in New York State near Buffalo) with his wife Connie. He was a Rockefeller Creative Associate in the Music Program at University of Buffalo and I remember going with them in their van to Rochester some 60 miles away to hear Ravi Shankar in performance with Alla Rakha. Don had studied with Harahar Rao in L.A. just before that.
David G.

7:09 AM  

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