Updoc Friday Jan. 9 & Tuesday Jan. 13

I had the extreme good fortune to hear Duke Ellington and his fabulous Orchestra once, live at Newport in 1965, but although I was a young jazz fiend and all the authorities were unanimous on Ellington’s overwhelming greatness, I was so pig-ignorant that to me he was some old dignitary who had nothing to do with me while I trailed after Trane and Sonny and Mingus and Ornette, etc. And then the band came onstage across the seatfilled pasture and played some opener, and then began to preview a few pieces from the forthcoming Far East Suite, and somewhere in the middle of The Bluebird of Delhi I began to tingle all over and experience the distinct sensation that I was levitating. I had no name for the delight that took me over, nor any explanation of how Ellington’s astounding alchemy of instrumental combination conveyed its magic through the coarseness of the open-air sound system, but there I was, hovering a few feet above the ground with my body all lit up, so to speak. Some of this gets across on recordings, and this week’s Updoc—8PM Friday and noon next Tuesday—does what it can to reconvey as much of it as will fit. La Plus Belle Africaine—Sam Woodyard at the drums!—Ellington Jazz Party with Dizzy and Jimmy Rushing, that kind of thing, plus Mingus at his most Dukish, and more Dizzy, and Bartok, and Basie, and Kenny Barron & Dave Holland, closing with the recently departed master of the kanun, Julien Jelaluddin Weiss. The kanun is a trapezoidal zither, which with a slip of the tongue I announce as a trapezoidal zikr—possibly Freudian but definitely appropriate, since zikr (or dhikr) refers to the invocation and rememoration of the Divinity. The same could be said of the whole dang show, as far as I’m concerned. And Sam Woodyard!DizDukeLarge2

Comments are closed.