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Back to Vol.1 No.8 1943

Jazz Music Vol.1 No.8 1943 0004

Jazz Music Vol.1 No.8 1943 0004

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6 JAZZ.
Astonishing, but Duke, plus his .. barbaric" negroes, use all these gentlemen's materials 'far better! The Romantics realised that in rich chromati­cism lay a deeper emotional contact with I heir audiences than just the formal elegance of Bach or Hayden. Debussy went one further, and employed the pentatonic and modal scales in place of the diatonic, for harmonic purposes. Now we have Ellington, armed with the tool of jazz, developed without the academic stranglehold' of European music since the seventeenth century, and offer­ing all the possibilities of a "vocal" instrumental style--microtonal passages which come llS an inevitable corollary to the use of explosive stop and flutter­tongueing in natural musical expression. The word "natural" is important-jazz seldom consciously innovates. If nothing else, jazz has giv.en to a long suffering world a I/alllral rhythm .
It does not take a genius to see that natural phenomena such as the move­ments of the boc(y do not take place with the infallible periodicity of the .. classic" accents within bars. No. Thcre i always a movcment to and from positions of rest, a 'factor realised in aJl primitive complex rhythms, and, of cour e, imported into jazz by the negro. Unlike the popular belief, I find nothing unnatural in incessant syncopa­tion and " unorthodox " harmonic an­ticipation and suspension. Both percus­sive and melodic stress accents are present in all jazz, but it seems that Ellington is the most skilful jazzman in his use of the harmonic basis of
" swing."
I could suggest that those who find WHAT GOOD WOULD IT DO? rather barren, listen again to tbe in­geniolls anticipation of harmony, veneer­ing modulation with a Elelicious hint of polytonality. This brilliant record ow.es a great deal also to Jefuies' subtle sense of pitch-his intonation probably tends to be more just than tempered on oecasions.
Given all t1,cse peculiarities of ja,zz with its amodel (blue) h~lI1P.ny, With the genius of Duke dlrectmg ltS scored polyrhythm, and we have a music-as Lambart says of HOT AND BOTHERED -" more dynamic than Stravinsky, more dexterous than Ravel."
It is some 'fourteen years since HOT
AND BOTHERED, and the three
trumpets, three saxes, tr~bone and
rhythm line up of that time. Gone

MUSIC
alas are the trumpet men who did so much to make Ellington's music in tho,e early days-gone is the inventive Miley, first in the intelligent use of "wa-wa" as an integral part of his solos. His style was at one and the same time both savage and sensitive. Jenkins, with his ease in high register, Whetsel's unsur­passed musicianship and delicacy, which lent an atrnospheu: never since recap­tured-these now live only on the phonograph.
It is in the trumpet section that most of Ellington's losses have taken place. The departure of Cootie WilIiams, Miley's . successor, holding supreme mastery of flutter-tongue growl effects, and the most driving improviser is, 1 feel, a loss from which the Ellington outfit has not recovered . The capable and pleasing work of Nance can never possess the same " guts."
To return again to earlier days, we find Duke slowly building up his organisation. The beautiful saxophone trio of MYSTERY SONG (Hodges, Carney, Bigard) was , increased to a quartet by the addition of that .. original" Ellingtonian, Hardwick­whenever he could be found I Often underrated, his work is responsible for <l deal of that purity o'f tone of ElIington's reeds : his rare solos are refreshing. Then too, to the hard-hitting expressive Tricky Sam, the most characteristic of Duke's men, was added the valve trom­bonist, Tizol-a grelit technical asset.
In 1932. the most important step was taken-the addition of Lawrence Brown now making possible the uSe of the trombones as an independent section, providing the never-to-be-forgotten thrills of SLIPPERY HORN and MERRY GO ROUND to mention but two records. How weli balanced is this trio of Duke's with its very different musical personali­
ties. In this form the band was more or less stabilised, but occasionaf changes have bcen made, notably the importation of a tenor soloist in the shape of Ben Webster, and more recently the introduction of violinist Nance. As ever, though, Duke made no -mistake--the time was ripe to
add other colours to his palette. And Nance has justified himself amply in the delica\f, ex'!tic. atmosphere of BAKIFF ;
in the ravIshing phrasmg of MOON MIST; in the intriguing microtonality 0'[ C JAM BLUES.
Such, briefly, has been EUinglon's

7

JAIl MUSIC
domain. And as Hodges sings his riding cantilena, weaving skilfully course. For all the new delicacy, his
music can be as vital and stimulating amongst driving brass, as Greer's urgentas ever. I have here the recent JUMP cymbal drives on into the last ensemble, FOR JOY. The turntable revolves;
over I realise that nothing-least.of all t.he Carney's deep, rich pedal rises the passing of years--{;an destroy that geru!,s
exuberant voice of Tricky Sam, and off which is E1lington's-Duke ElImgton s, we go on another adventure into Duke's and bis famous orchestra's.
REX STEWARl AS KNEW HIM
By CHARLES WILFORD

SINCE THURBER Showed the no hat or overcoat, was quietly and
way wtlh D. H. Lawrence, it is' neatly dressed in a dark brown sui~,
u~ual tor anyone who gets near and was talking animatedl;, to his
enough to an American musician companion. I thought to .myself;
to aSK for hiS autograph to publish " That fellow certainly le .tks lIke
a tuli and careful account of the Rex Stewart." I stepped pulitely
said mUSician's ltfe and opInions; aside, with the traditional ,()w tesy
as a supplement there is always a of the Englishman to~ .uds a
detat1ed survey ot ills recorded stranger, in order that they m;g~t
work, often reacillng .such depths pass without · interruptlng theu
of crItIcal understanding as to conversation.
arnve at the conclusion; .. I think By a strange coincidencx,. I ~as
ne s just too perfectly bloody carrying under my arm at t:..l1e t~e
marvellous for words." of the encounter a record by MIJI
Mole I had just bought. It'\vas notSo 1 think it only fair to future until the following Friday that Igenerauons oC jazz-lovers that 'learned from the " Melody Maker" mere should be Illscnbed on the how the Ellington band, which 1 tablets some ot my personal recol­had thought to be in Holland,lections ot Rex Stewart.
had passed unexpectedly throughIt was III 1939, or maybe 1938 or London on its hasty way back to!<J4U-anyhow, the year Elllllgton the U.S. .
lOured tne Conlwent but COUldn't I never met Rex Stewa,rt agaw.
get permIts to play 1fi England. It But I often like to think of him,all nappened III .tiolborn, just by and how deep an impression he left tveraro's pipe shop. It was a hot with me, after such a brief summer oay, .the sun was at the acquaintance, of his character; his mendian, my lunch hour was fluent powers of self-expression, his ended and 1 was regretfully wan­unostentatious tastes, his preference dering away from J-ienekey's and for a few chosen companions, his down towards Holborn Circus and love of exercise and of the open my place of work. I suddenl)i saw air his unconventional scorn of thewaLKing towards me, out ot the us~al hours for meals, his complete blue as one might say, two negroes.
lack of fear of the elements, even
The one that took my attention in inclement England, and ~ his
more particularly was rather short, powers of concentration' in adverse
;perhaps Sft. 4in., with extremely circumstances.
broad shoulders, skin very dark Of Rex's trumpet playing I will
brown but not quite black, gleam-codfine myself to saying that 1
ing t~eth and a wide smile; he wore (continued on page 9)