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From the Wall Street Journal: Nat Hentoff on Duke Ellington

This is copyright protected, so just a hint or two.

By Nat Hentoff


“I first had the opportunity of being mentored by Duke Ellington in the 1940s when I was part of the Boston jazz scene. In those days I had a radio show that combined music and interviews, and as a part-time reporter for Down Beat, I got to know Duke. Off the air, he once told me: “I don’t want listeners to analyze my music. I want them open to it as a whole.”

The Duke

And I was there when he played dances, just to get as close to the bandstand as I could. One night, the band played a number entirely new to me. During one of their quick breaks I whispered to a sideman, baritone saxophonist Harry Carney, “What’s the name of that?”

“I don’t know,” he said. “He just wrote it.”

Another sideman, Rex Stewart, who played trumpet and cornet and with whom I used to hang out, told me—and later mentioned in his book, “Jazz Masters of the 30s”—”He snatches ideas out of the air. . . . On the Ellington orchestra’s Pullman, he’d suddenly jump as if a bee had stung him . . . and scribble madly for hours—or sometimes only for a minute.”

Please do not miss this article


2 responses

  1. Bo Haufman

    I am the vice chairman of the Duke Ellington Society of Sweden. We have some 200 members and for them we issue a quarterly news letter. In our next letter we would like to include Nat Hentoff’s article called Duke, Before My Time. WE are unable to pay anything for it but would like to have your permission to reprint and circulate it amongst our members only. Pls confirm. Best wishes, Bo Haufman

    March 11, 2011 at 7:45 AM

  2. Mr. Hoffman- Thanks for your comment.

    I have a link to the article in my blog post, so you and your members can easily access the original article. US copyright law allows for the use of small bits of original text as long as that use is not for profit. So, first, you could look at the article and find for yourself what bits might entice your members to visit the original article. And, you can give them the link.

    So, while I doubt that you should re-print the whole thing, you can certainly access the article in the same way as I did.

    You can also make the link to my blog post available.

    Thanks again for your interest.

    March 11, 2011 at 10:28 AM

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