Tag Archives: Willie Cook

DAN MORGENSTERN RECALLS DUKE ELLINGTON, LOUIS, BASIE, AL HIRSCHFELD, BENNY, and ARTIE (March 9, 2018)

I invite JAZZ LIVES’ readers and viewers to join Dan Morgenstern and myself for an afternoon conversation about Duke Ellington which took place a few months ago in early March 2018.  I don’t ordinarily post ninety-five minutes of video in one heaping serving, but Dan’s narrative is so comfortably wide-ranging and expansive that I couldn’t cut it into sections.

Part One, where Dan begins by remembering himself as a young Danish record collector, comments on various Ellingtonians and admirers, and loops around to the 1938 Randall’s Island Carnival of Swing:

Here’s DUSK — for your spiritual edification, from a HMV 78, too:

Part Two is focused on Duke in the recording studio, with quick asides about Willie Cook, Norris Turney, Harry Carney, Paul Gonsalves, Cat Anderson, and Mercer Ellington:

Part Three begins with Johnny Hodges, Sonny Greer, detours to ripe tomatoes, and returns to Billy Strayhorn, Bob Wilber, and Barney Bigard:

Part Four starts with one of my heroes, Ray Nance, then Cootie Williams, Toney Williams, and offers the famous story about disciplining a wayward Paul Gonsalves:

Part Five again recalls Duke in the recording studio, next to Basie, next to Louis.  I wish there were some documentation of Louis sitting in with Duke’s octet!

Finally, Dan’s tale, very amusing, of three bandleaders in one night, which ends with Johnny Hodges on the AT THE BAL MASQUE Columbia lp:

and here is the very pretty ALICE BLUE GOWN:

Blessings and gratitude to the very generous Dan Morgenstern.

May your happiness increase!

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THE QUEST, THE HUNT, THE SEARCH (August 2011)

The Beloved and I have been savoring in our extended California holiday, and when we arrived near Berkeley, I said, quietly, “There’s a famous record store I want to go to.  It’s called Amoeba Records.”  She agreed; she encouraged me to do it early in the day.  That’s what she’s like!

I’d learned about Amoeba from that world-traveler and generous soul David Weiner, who had told me of its wonders and even brought back a rare Condon disc for me.  So I had visions of bins full of oddities and heart’s-desire-discs . . . you know, “Oh, my goodness, I’ve been searching for this for years!”

It wasn’t the Arabian Nights, but I didn’t go away empty-handed.

While I was rapt, silent, fascinated, the photographer Lorna Sass caught me unaware, a pilgrim on the jazz quest.

Photograph by Lorna Sass

The photograph shows how impressive Amoeba is — reminiscent of The Real Thing many of us knew so well in the pre-compact disc / download / online purchasing days.  I am amused by the accurate likeness: my left hand is ready to move along the browser to the next possible purchase, while my right hand holds the Latest Object of Desire for consideration.  The stance of the experienced record buyer, I think.

What I am holding in my right hand indeed turned out to be A Prize: CHRISTL MOOD, a 1985 Phontastic Records session I’d never heard of featuring the Ellington trumpeter Willie Cook with “the young Swedes,” among them the magnificently swinging pianist Ulf Johannsson.  $2.99 plus California sales tax, which is exactly what the new Hawaiian shirt (decorated with Japanese-style sketches of turtles and pineapples) cost a few days ago at Goodwill.

And should you see me deep in contemplation at a record store, do come over and say Hello, although I might jump, startled, being so intensely involved in The Quest.