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Back to Duke Ellington Orchestra British Tour – February 1966

Duke Ellington Orchestra British Tour – February 1966 006

Duke Ellington Orchestra British Tour – February 1966 006

Pages 8 and 9 of a souvenir brochure for Duke Ellington's tour of Britain in 1966, presented by Harold Davison and Norman Granz. Page 8 features a profile photograph of Johnny Hodges playing his saxophone, with the previous pages article on the history of Duke Ellington's bands concluding on page 9.

Image Details

Catalogue Reference Number NJA/PRO/14
Creator Peter Clayton, Michael Sanders
Date Made 1966
Item Format Programme
Title or Caption
Geographic Location

This text has been generated by computer from the image and may contain typographical and/or grammatical errors.

dogwhistle range. Tricky Sam Nanton, fatally ill, left in 1946. In 1948 Duke finally visited Britain again, hut this time without a hand. Ellington brought with hint vocalist Kay Davis and Ray Nance (versatile enough to he nicknamed “ Floorshow ”) to come here as a cabaret act.
Something that had all the appearances of being a disaster occurred in 1951. Sonny Greer, drummer since 1926, Lawrence Brown and Johnny Hodges all left together. There was some rapid chopping and changing, and then Louis Bellson on drums, Willie Smith on alto and Juan Tizol, the valve trombonist who’d already had a long stay with Ellington, were inveigled away from Harry James. Apart from an almost overbearing sort of showmanship at times, Louis Bellson is considered by some to be the most propulsive drummer Duke has ever had. Willie Smith licked the reeds into shape, and the suave-sounding Tizol settled back into his old niche.
The arrival of the superb Clark Terry, the man whose carpet-slippered sound on trumpet is like nothing else in jazz, dates from this time, too.
Johnny Hodges disbanded his own band in the mid-’fifties, and in 1956 was back in the Ellington fold. Paul Gonsalves came in in 1950, and really made his mark at the 1956 Newport Festival, when he expanded a short ad lib. link between the two parts of " Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue ” into twenty-seven solo choruses of rising excitement. Long before he had finished, hundreds of people had got out of their seats and were dancing in whatever space they could find.
In 1958, at long last, both Duke and band reached Britain, after a gap of a quarter of a century. It seemed almost too good to be true that one could be jostled about in a street crowd in Croydon, say, and find oneself standing next to Clark Terry.
The suite "Such Sweet Thunder’’ had been written by then, and audiences were treated to Britt Woodman’s athletic trombone in " Sonnet for Hank Cinq ” and some sinuous Hodges in “ Half the Fun ”,
Recent history is more common knowledge. The Ellington orchestra helped to mitigate the rigours of the arctic beginnings of 1963, by which time Cootie Williams had rejoined, almost as if he’d never been away. Lawrence Brown wa.v back. Jimmy Hamilton, urbane on clarinet, unexpectedly forceful on tenor, was close to his 20th anniversary with the band. Hodges and Carney, apparently untouched by time, were still gloriously there. 1 remember
writing something at the time to the effect that there was probably an enormous picture of the Ellington band hidden away in some attic, growing older like Dorian Grey's portrait, while the band itself went blithely on, untouched and unwrinkled.
/ thought so again in early 1964, when the band was here again. Ellington was not in the best of health, but it never showed. It’s hard to realize that Sam Woodyard, with his two bass drums (like Bellson) joined as long ago as 1955, that Russell Procope, clarinet and alto, goes right back to 1945. And so on. As 1 say, there’s really only been one band.