Duke Ellington's orchestra in 1959 in Germany with Shakespearean Sonnet excerpts:
That was tweeted in honor of the anniversary of Duke Ellington's birth, 4/29/12. Thanks to a reminder from my first cousin once removed or something like that Rick, who added these great notes and recommended two more videos.
"Selections from Such Sweet Thunder" – from German television: concert on 2/7/1959 in Germany.
Such Sweet Thunder was a 12-part suite that Ellington wrote based on the work of Shakespeare (released in 1957). Here the band plays the first part ("Such Sweet Thunder" – referencing Othello; solo by Ray Nance trumpet) and the third part ("Sonnet to Hank Cinq" — referencing Henry V; this is a blues in a boogie-woogie pattern with solo by Britt Woodman trombone; by the way, it has been said that the number of syllables in a Shakespearean sonnet are equal to the number of notes in an Ellington sonnet). The band plays the first piece faster than on the album.
"Isfahan" from The Far East Suite – from American TV show in 1965; featuring Johnny Hodges on alto saxophone (and the entire wonderful sax section).
The Far East Suite is a 9-composition suite recorded in 1966 (so it was recorded after this live TV event). Johnny Hodges was one of the greatest sax players ever — deeply influenced by Sidney Bechet and Coleman Hawkins but he turned their emotionalism into a pure bell-like tone on the alto sax.
"Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue":
Originally these were two pieces composed in 1937 — "Diminuendo in Blue" and "Crescendo in Blue" — then brought together as one work: "Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue." The tenor sax player who solos — Paul Gonsalves (yes, that's the correct spelling) — began playing the solo in 1951. The solo actually occurs BETWEEN the two pieces. In 1956 at the Newport Jazz Festival Gonsalves stunned the jazz world with his legendary 26-chorus solo on this piece, revealing him to be a major player of the instrument. It was said he almost caused a riot because of the frenzy of the audience. He continued doing this solo for years with the band. I don't know when this version was filmed — probably in the 1960s.
Hooray for relatives who send you things like this with which to start your day!