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Duke Ellington Masters: 1971 DVD. Shambolic!

Mon Sep 12, 2011 5:36 pm

I love Duke Ellington. I "love him madly", in fact. And I also love late Duke Ellington, the final live recordings, released as "Eastbourne Concert" are an absolutely joyful 40 minutes or so. And so, I finally got around to buying Quantum Leap's DVD of his 1971 concerts at the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen which brought Ben Webster back into the fold for a guest appearance.

I have to say, other than perhaps the late Amy Winehouse, I have never seen such a shambolic mess! I was so looking forward to watching this. band members wander on to the stage to take their places once the concert had actually started and one number had already been played. Soloist fail to reach the microphones at the front of the stage in time to do their solos, so some of it is missed. When the band plays together as a group, rather than small group numbers with soloists, they are about as much together as a poorly-rehearsed high school big band. On one occasion, a band member actually asks the one next to him "have we rehearsed this?" The trio and small group numbers fare better, but Ellington himself if really not on top form at the piano either, sometimes playing as if wearing boxing gloves (although, to be fair to him, he doesn't look best pleased that his hands aren't working up to par).

Something rather drastic must have happened between this show and the eastbourne one too years later, but that this mess is on DVD is really quite sad. Ellington and his band were still more than capable of bringing the house down, but here they barely manage to get even in the house! I'm assuming the one and only reviewer on amazon (who has given it five stars!) was either watching the wrong dvd or was affiliated with Quantum Leap themselves!

So, for those jazz fans among us, consider this a warning!

Re: Duke Ellington Masters: 1971 DVD. Shambolic!

Mon Sep 12, 2011 5:46 pm

A shambles, indeed -- it actually seemed to me as though the mics were off at the start of the show, then turned on, and off again, due to the sound being poorly balanced on stage. During a part of the show when Ellington begins to speak, similar problems are evident . . .

Re: Duke Ellington Masters: 1971 DVD. Shambolic!

Mon Sep 12, 2011 5:56 pm

Yes, I thought at first the mic problem was because one of the mics fell over when the curtains opened, but it seemed all the mics were off. but the technical issues can be overlooked, I guess, if the band itself was good. I wonder if the night before was a late one!

Have you got the other discs in the series? I've seen bits of them, but not bought any until now - and I chose this one because of Webster's involvement. Are the other discs better? (they couldn't be worse!)

Re: Duke Ellington Masters: 1971 DVD. Shambolic!

Mon Sep 12, 2011 6:22 pm

Not from that particular label, more US imports such as The Intimate Duke Ellington, which was also filmed in Copenhagen. That's a better show, with Ellington solo and with his orchestra.