Real Media Windows. Facebook Twitter Flipboard Email. March 9, AM ET. Heard on The Tavis Smiley Show. Jazz Set with Dee Dee Bridgewater. The Seattle annual performance combines portions of all three of the Sacred Concerts.
As a graduate student at the New England Conservatory of Music, Brockman and others transcribed the Sacred Concerts from the original recordings, and later augmented the fragmentary existing score left by Ellington.
Fifty-one years since the first Sacred Concert, what is the significance of this art work to the Seattle region, and beyond? Styles Big Band Swing. Early Morning Empowerment Introspection. Track Listing. In the Beginning God. Duke Ellington. Will You Be There? Ninety Nine Percent. Ain't But the One. New World A'coming. The group stayed together for over fifty years and recorded and wrote some of America's greatest music. It was through weekly radio broadcasts from the Cotton Club that the orchestra gained nationwide exposure and became famous.
After the band was billed as Duke Ellington … read more. The band started in New York City under name of the Washingtonians in , they then briefly became known a… read more. Related Tags Add tags. Buy Loading. In the next phrase, a descending major second is followed by an ascending minor second and a tritone. After two times through that obstacle course, the melody becomes fairly logical with relatively simple melodic movement.
Taken on its own, it is simply a difficult song for Babs; but when paired with the lyrics, we see how the melody compliments the words. But what does Heaven combine? Her opening chorus shows her astounding vocal control and winning delivery. When Babs returns, the band adopts an attractive beguine feel for a chorus. In the final cadenza, Babs dazzles with her clear swoop into the high register.
Ellington usually sent an assistant two weeks ahead to teach the choirs how to sing the music in the proper style. Even with this clever joke, this piece might be a little hard for a non-believer to take, but Babs is the perfect communicator.
From heavenly angels, Ellington then salutes an angel on Earth, the Reverend John Gensel , a Lutheran minister from New York who used personal and church resources to help needy jazz musicians Gensel is pictured with Ellington at the top of this article. The trumpeter offers brilliant demonstrations of his legendary growl and open horn techniques, while constructing a passionate portrayal of Father Gensel.
However, there are some catchy melodies, good solos by the band and valid points in the lyrics. The orchestration is impressive and highly descriptive in his emulation of road traffic. Live performances of this piece were show-stoppers with their inclusion of a lengthy Rufus Jones drum solo.
The following piece was also a show-stopper in a different sense. The Fantasy recording seems lifeless, and that makes it easier to hit it with brickbats, but its importance becomes apparent in the video recordings discussed below. It is similar to the Prayers of the People offered weekly in many churches. At the end, the choir sings a lyric, contrapuntal passage in four-part harmony. It opens with rubato statements of the Psalm by Babs and Ellington. This section stops and starts several times, and it just goes on too long before exploding into the closing fast tempo yes, there is such a thing as too much Alice Babs!
Still, the complex instrumental motives are well-played, and the solos by Paul Gonsalves, Cat Anderson and Buster Cooper bring the recording to a thrilling conclusion. As implied above, the video recordings of the Second Sacred Concert are superior to the official audio version. Both versions were filmed in the fall of , which meant the musicians had a better grasp of the music, as they had been playing it live for several months.
Further, the visual aspect gives us important details that cannot be discerned from the audio recording. Part 1 , Part 2. Alice Babs is the featured vocalist, with a beaming countenance to match her remarkable virtuosity. However, the most illuminating portions of the video appear in the final 25 minutes.
By removing the invisible barrier between the performers and the audience, we are set up for the explosive finale. They move into the congregation while Watkins, Babs and Ellington demonstrate a hand-clapping pattern for the audience. All of this kinetic and musical energy raises the intensity of the music, and creates a visceral experience that is quite exciting on television, and must have been thrilling to witness in person.
Fifty years after these concerts, there are many surviving audience members who specifically remember the hand-clapping and dancing in the aisles. In , Ellington received another reminder of his mortality when he was diagnosed with cancer in both lungs. Ellington did not share this news in public, but on October 24, when he premiered his Third Sacred Concert at Westminster Abbey, his health was failing him. The preparations for the concert were exhausting and troublesome. The band had rehearsed some of the music after hours at the Chicago nightclub, Mr.
However, Ellington continued to tinker with the music right up until the performance. Reportedly, Ellington had stayed up over 48 hours straight editing and re-writing music—a difficult task for anyone, but especially for a year-old man with a fatal disease. Ellington and the band took the red-eye to London, landing there the day before the concert. They went right into rehearsal. Paul Gonsalves had an epileptic seizure on the day of the concert and was taken to the hospital.
Meanwhile, Alice Babs had flown in from Sweden, and she learned her songs just hours before taking the stage. Shortly before the concert, Mercer Ellington went backstage to check on his father: He was lying on the cot, barely breathing, looking like a very tired, exhausted old man.Not up to the level of Ellington's 2nd Sacred Music Concert (which also benefits from the addition of Swedish soprano Alice Babs), this recording of the 1st Sacred Music Concert may be the best that's currently available on CD. At least it's by Ellington's own band and the "tonal personalities" for whom Duke wrote the work.5/5(6).