September 2006

Richard Ehrenzeller's

The Digital Jungle

Since the June TDES newsletter, the most important things released are DVDs, some of which were played at the June meeting. All of these new DVDs are coded as region free, so that European readers can play them on a normal European DVD player. All of them can be purchased at

Duke Ellington-Montreal 1964 on Video Arts International is a black and white kinescope of the Ellington Orchestra in the Le Jazz Hot Room on April 20, 1964 for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. This is one of the rare chances to see Rolf Ericson on trumpet and flugelhorn and Major Holley on bass to perform on a video with the band. Rolf has a feature on flugelhorn, performing the “Clark Terry” version of “Perdido.” Mostly, the band plays “the usual suspects” and “period suspects,” such as “Afro-Bossa,” “Never on Sunday,” “Prowling Cat,” “Happy Reunion” and from Timon of Athens Suite, “Banquet Scene” and “Skilipop”.

Also on VAI is the DVD, Harold Arlen-An All-Star Tribute. This is a color video of a National Broadcasting Company telecast of December 5, 1965. The only Ellington Orchestra performances on this DVD are “Stormy Weather,” “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” and “Blues in the Night.” On the last number, hostess Dinah Shore sings with the band. Louie Bellson is on drums for this broadcast.

With the next two DVDs, I have no problems with the music. However, in terms of image quality, they look like they are many generations down from the original film or video tape. Both were released on VHS video tape on the Vid Jazz label and these DVDs have the appearance of being just copies of these video tapes. My suggestion to readers who own the videotapes, if you do not need them on DVD, do not buy these DVDs, since they are probably no an improvement in image quality.

Duke Ellington-London Concert 1964 Impro-Jazz has television broadcasts of February 20, 1964 in London and September 1959 in Zurich. The highlight of the London broadcast is the only filmed version of “A Tone Parallel to Harlem.” Also on this broadcast is Duke’s solo piano version of “Little African Flower(Fleurette Africaine).” On the Zurich broadcast, there is a feature for Ray Nance on “Basin Street Blues

Duke Ellington-Berlin Concert 1969, from the same label, contains broadcasts of November 8, 1969 in Berlin and November 2, 1958 in Amsterdam. The Berlin concert is in color and there is considerable running of them in the copy. That broadcast has only pieces that were played quite a bit on that tour. The Amsterdam broadcast has some rarer pieces. Jimmy Hamilton has a feature on clarinet on “My Funny ValentineJohnny Hodges has a feature on “All of MeHarold “Shorty” Baker and Ray Nance do their thing on “Mr. Gentle and Mr. Cool.” Bottom line, if you do not own these videos, you are probably going to want to purchase these two. However, their video quality leaves much to be desired.

Also on Impro-Jazz is the DVD, Ben Webster in Hanover 1973. This is the first time this video has ever been released, so the label claims. While its video quality looks like it is a second or third generation, it is considerably better than the Duke Ellington DVDs I have just mentioned. Most of the DVD is a telecast of December 14, 1972. The group consists of Ben, Oscar Peterson on piano, Niels-Henning Orsted-Pederson on bass and Tony Inzalaco on drums. Ben is playing well for that period in his life. There are three bonus audio tracks from the concert on the DVD that were not on the television broadcast.

Ben and Clark Terry both appear on the DVD, Teddy Wilson-In Europe 1969-1970 EFORFILMS. Clark plays “Stardust” as part of the telecast of March 1969 in London. Ben plays “Stardust” as part of the telecast of November 12, 1969 in Copenhagen and “Old Folks” from September 25, 1970 also in Copenhagen. These are the only tracks that these Ellingtonians appear on this DVD. The video quality of this DVD unfortunately is on par with the Duke Ellington DVDs on Impro-Jazz.

Copyright Richard Ehrenzeller, New York, 2006.