Friday, August 12, 2011

Willis Conover hosts Duke Ellington - 5

To conclude: "Flaming Sword", the final item from the last regular broadcast in August 1996 of Willis Conover's "Music USA", in which Conover and Duke Ellington discuss, in a program first broadcast in 1965, an historic and previously unreleased live recording of a concert by the Ellington Orchestra in Fargo, North Dakota, on 7 November 1940:

Ellington: "And now we go into another one of our performances which has more or less become a collector's item. We have great demands for it, but no arrangement, and [trombonist] Lawrence Brown [1907-1988] finds that he's performing with great reluctance when every time it's announced, but, however, he tries for a sterling performance. It's our conception of 'Rose of the Rio Grande.'" [The song was by Harry Warren, 1893-1981.]:

Conover: "And incidentally, on the occasion that this was performed, Duke, in 1940, Ivy Anderson sang. She was a little off microphone at the time. I don't believe you've heard this take of it since that time, and it gives a rather ghostly quality at the beginning of her singing."

Ellington: "Oh, really?:

Conover: "Yes."

Ellington: "I'll have to listen to that. . . .":

Conover: "Mr. Ellington at the piano, and on microphone in the Voice of America Studios. Thank you for the pleasure and the honor every time, Duke."

Ellington: "Well thank you very much, Willis. It's always a great pleasure to be here with you on mike, speaking to and playing for your wonderful audience, who know . . . that we do love them madly!" [the last phrase a reference to the title of one of Ellington's hit songs.]

* * * * * * *

In his final outro, recorded sometime in the 1980's, Conover repeats in his elegantly slow and measured tones: "That was Duke Ellington on the fourth of June 1965, discussing with me unreleased recordings made of the Ellington Orchestra performing in Fargo, North Dakota on the seventh of November, 1940--Recordings that, since our conversation, have been released to win the 1980 Grammy Award of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences as "'The Jazz Record of the Year.'

"Willis Conover speaking. This is the Voice of America Jazz Hour."

The program concludes with the following announcement by David Bodington, who was Willis Conover's last Studio Engineer at VOA, and who produced this final treasure--and to whom we are indebted for the recording you have been listening to here:

"The Voice of America hopes you've enjoyed today's broadcast from the archives of Willis Conover. This program is the last regularly scheduled daily broadcast of Willis Conover's "Music USA Jazz"--

The sudden, hanging silence following that announcement is deafening. . . .

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