Just Above Sunset
December 5, 2004 - Duke Ellington at Schoenberg Hall

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As I said in June of 2003 in these pages, I grew up on Duke Ellington music, and still have all the vinyl LP albums that were released in North America, and somewhere or other have a whole bunch of 78's from long ago. 


And I have been listening to some modern versions of Ellington classics and recommend the late Ellis Marsalis' 1999 album Duke in Blue (Columbia 63631) as the best of the lot.  It's all solo piano.  His extended version of Sophisticated Lady is amazing.  And from experience I know those are hard changes.  This is quiet music for the evening. 


Now and then Turner Classic Movies shows a movie with an Ellington score, Paris Blues.  And HBO sometimes screens Anatomy of Murder, an Otto Preminger film with a great Ellington score.  Too bad each film is so dated.


Of the two you might want to catch Paris Blues (1961).  In Paris Blues, Ram Bowen (Paul Newman) and Eddie Cook (Sidney Poitier) are two expatriate jazz musicians living in Paris.  Yeah, yeah.  Newman pretends to play trombone (you hear Juan Tizol) and Poitier pretends to play tenor (you hear Paul Gonsalves).  Of course they meet and fall in love with two young American girls, Lillian and Connie, who are vacationing in France.  This is Joanne Woodward and Diahann Carroll.  The conflict?  The guys must decide whether they should move back to America with them, or stay in Paris for the freedom it allows them. 


Martin Ritt directed this mess.  But the music is good.  And it was filmed on location in Paris, with the club scenes at Le Bilboquet.  I've been there a few times.


And heck, Louis Armstrong is in the film too.  And Paul Newman learned to play the trombone well enough that he could play in public a bit, in preparation for the role.


I saw the film when it came out.  I was fourteen.  I bought the LP of course.  This perhaps is why I like Paris and Ellington so much. 


But locally on the campus of UCLA in Westwood next to Schoenberg Hall you will find this Statue of Ellington.  Yep, Schoenberg ended up in Los Angeles, and Ellington didn’t.  Or he sort of did.

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Photo Copyright 2004 Robert Patterson

Below is how Le Biloboquet looked in June, 2000 -

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Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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Paris readers add nine hours....