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 Posted:   Oct 7, 2019 - 5:45 PM   
 By:   villagardens553   (Member)

I just read FSM's announcement about Quartet's new releases touting "the legendary Nelson Riddle" and "the equally legendary Duke Ellington."

Let that sink in.

Now, Nelson Riddle deserves plenty of praise for his arrangements for Sinatra, Linda Ronstadt, Nat King Cole, and many others, plus his film/tv music for Route 66, Batman, and The Untouchables, but Ellington stands on top of the 20th Century Music Mountain (no, it's not at Disney World) with very few others and no one named Riddle.

Somebody had to say it.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 7, 2019 - 8:12 PM   
 By:   ZardozSpeaks   (Member)


Now, Nelson Riddle deserves plenty of praise for his arrangements for Sinatra, Linda Ronstadt, Nat King Cole, and many others, plus his film/tv music for Route 66, Batman, and The Untouchables, but Ellington stands on top of the 20th Century Music Mountain (no, it's not at Disney World) with very few others and no one named Riddle.


... and no one named Monty Norman either, I guess.



 
 
 Posted:   Oct 8, 2019 - 1:17 AM   
 By:   Graham Watt   (Member)

Well, I'm not Onya, and I can't "help" in any way - although I'm not sure why it's needed on this subject.

I agree with Garden Villa that Nelson Riddle was pretty damn fine in many ways. Ellington was "The Duke" though, and even "better" than John Wayne when playing chopsticks on the keyboard.

"Legendary" may refer to the way most of us perceive the output of the gentlemen in question. Nelson Riddle was absolutely amazing, outstanding and wonderful for his arrangements, but mostly because he did more films and telly than Ellington, especially "Batman". Pow! Wow! Legend.

Ellington on the other hand wrote comparatively few film and telly scores, and the ones he did just sounded like those old jazz concerts he used to do. So I guess that in some snobbish "books" about jazz, where films and tellies aren't mentioned, Duke Ellington would be considered "legendary".

Each one is legendary in the eyes of the specific sub-groups above mentioned. And one's view of the other from the other side of the fence would be that the other one is a legend in his own lunchtime.

Or perhaps "legendary" means that neither of them actually existed, like Santa Claus (sorry kids) or the Loch Ness Monster (sorry drunken Scots nationalists, and Japanese tourists). Simply legends. It's a bit like the word "mythical". I often read about "mythical actor Christopher Lee" in articles. However, in this case I'm sure he really did exist. I met him when I was on holiday in New Zealand for "The Lord of the Rings", the Tolkien story, and he was doing some "blue screen" work (actually green, nutmegs) in England, and he charged me 45 quid for his autograph via Skype.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 8, 2019 - 3:42 AM   
 By:   Tall Guy   (Member)

I often read about "mythical actor Christopher Lee" in articles. However, in this case I'm sure he really did exist. I met him when I was on holiday in New Zealand for "The Lord of the Rings", the Tolkien story, and he was doing some "blue screen" work (actually green, nutmegs) in England, and he charged me 45 quid for his autograph via Skype.

Wow. You can have mine for a tenner.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 8, 2019 - 3:57 AM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

Well, If Nelson Riddle is indeed "legendary" - and he may very well be - then we need a different adjective for Ellington.

Duke is IMO one of the towering figures of 20th Century music, along with Stravinsky, Sun Ra, Charlie Parker, Morricone, Monk, and Jobim.

On the other hand, I'm a little bit surprised that the insular film score community would describe either Duke or Riddle as "legendary," as neither ever scored a Star Wars film (to my knowledge).

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 8, 2019 - 4:09 AM   
 By:   Graham Watt   (Member)



Duke is IMO one of the towering figures of 20th Century music, along with Stravinsky, Sun Ra, Charlie Parker, Morricone, Monk, and Jobim.


Sun Ra? The guy who claimed he was an alien from Saturn or something? If we're going to accept nutters, vote David Icke. He's literally 'out of this world' on the comb and toilet paper.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 8, 2019 - 4:16 AM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)



Duke is IMO one of the towering figures of 20th Century music, along with Stravinsky, Sun Ra, Charlie Parker, Morricone, Monk, and Jobim.


Sun Ra? The guy who claimed he was an alien from Saturn or something? If we're going to accept nutters, vote David Icke. He's literally 'out of this world' on the comb and toilet paper.


Sun Ra's catalog is absolutely astounding: He is the Morricone of Jazz in terms of output. It took decades for this importance to be fully absorbed, as most of his albums were impossibly scarce DIY releases. But thanks to CD releases on Evidence in the 1990s, and, more recently, the heroic efforts of Irwin Chusid to finally release everything from the master tapes (That's a long story), Sun Ra's position as a jazz visionary is very secure. The number of scholarly articles on Sun Ra has gone through the roof over the past few decades.

I probably have more Sun Ra and Morricone than any other artist, incidentally.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 8, 2019 - 4:22 AM   
 By:   TerraEpon   (Member)

What you're complaining about is marketing.

Marketing is dumb.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 8, 2019 - 4:27 AM   
 By:   Graham Watt   (Member)

Sun Ra was amazing indeed. There's an "Association Spider" (sick) on The Internet, and Sun Ra is only one web-tendril away from Gil Mellé and Basil Kirchin. Astounding visionaries worthy of abundant scholarly study, but their close relationship with poor films and TV will put a stop to that.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 8, 2019 - 4:49 AM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

Sun Ra was amazing indeed. There's an "Association Spider" (sick) on The Internet, and Sun Ra is only one web-tendril away from Gil Mellé and Basil Kirchin. Astounding visionaries worthy of abundant scholarly study, but their close relationship with poor films and TV will put a stop to that.

A big part of the contemporary "jazz establishment" - i.e., white male university music professors who look like golfers - really hates Sun Ra, which is of course one more reason to love him.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 8, 2019 - 5:22 AM   
 By:   villagardens553   (Member)

I was fortunate to see Sun Ra live once--late 80s--probably towards the end of his life. His music is adventurous, imaginative, but far more accessible than most people think it would be. I went back stage and Ra was holding forth in a throne-like chair talking in cosmic riddles while eating Jack-in-the-Box tacos with hot sauce dripping down his face. I never got to see Ellington.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 8, 2019 - 5:26 AM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

From the book SPACE IS THE PLACE : The Life and Times of Sun Ra ...

"The big postwar jazz bands held little interest for Sonny , as most were either recycling past successes or shoving singers to the front , or else attempting to paste the innovations of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie onto older formulas . Sonny was now listening to the Hollywood-inspired music being made by people like David Rose , whose lush massed string writing could be heard as theme songs on several popular radio programs ; or Walter Schumann , who brought classical choral methods to pop songs ; OR to the exotica of people like Martin Denny , who recorded in Honolulu under Henry Kaiser's Aluminum Dome accompanied by animal noises , natural accoustic delay , and reverberation ; and ESPECIALLY to the arrangements of LES BAXTER , the premier figure in what was being called mood music."

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 8, 2019 - 10:27 AM   
 By:   Octoberman   (Member)

Cool coincidence that Sun Ra is mentioned.
Just a couple of months ago I started dipping my toe in his pool.
All I bought so far is "Jazz In Silhouette"--the Evidence reissue.
I don't listen to it a Hell of a lot, but as soon as my wallet allows I want to see if I can order in the "Definitive 45's Collection".
I figured those would be the best places to start--unless someone here has a better idea.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 8, 2019 - 2:14 PM   
 By:   ZardozSpeaks   (Member)

"jazz establishment" - i.e., white male university music professors

You talkin' about albino marsupials again, Onya?

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 8, 2019 - 3:06 PM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

I was fortunate to see Sun Ra live once--late 80s--probably towards the end of his life. His music is adventurous, imaginative, but far more accessible than most people think it would be. I went back stage and Ra was holding forth in a throne-like chair talking in cosmic riddles while eating Jack-in-the-Box tacos with hot sauce dripping down his face. I never got to see Ellington.

That is awesome! I saw him live summer of '87, but there were no tacos involved. It was amazing, though!

Sorry to hijack your thread!

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 8, 2019 - 3:07 PM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

"jazz establishment" - i.e., white male university music professors

You talkin' about albino marsupials again, Onya?


Since university music professors are inherently lazy, it would be a good gig for an animal who sleeps 20 hours a day!

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 8, 2019 - 3:15 PM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

Cool coincidence that Sun Ra is mentioned.
Just a couple of months ago I started dipping my toe in his pool.
All I bought so far is "Jazz In Silhouette"--the Evidence reissue.
I don't listen to it a Hell of a lot, but as soon as my wallet allows I want to see if I can order in the "Definitive 45's Collection".
I figured those would be the best places to start--unless someone here has a better idea.


As someone with a ton of Sun Ra, I would suggest that the 45s collection is really not a good next step. It is really for completists only. The 45s were reserved for all kinds of bizarro one-off projects, and while there is some really great stuff therein, it is a real mixed bag.

Sonny's career can generally be divided between his Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia periods. "Jazz in Silhouette" is from his Chicago (earliest) period, and is excellent. As a next step, I might suggest "Futuristic Sounds" on Savoy, which is his first New York album, but stylistically in his Chicago bag overall.

I would say his Chicago period is most accessible, and a good place to start. His New York period is next, and it is very experimental, although some of it is accessible. His final Philly period mixes avant-garde experimentation with some decidedly big band approaches, so it is almost like a career encapsulation.

The Savoy album I suggested is from the master tapes and is well worth getting.

As far as the Evidence albums, many of these have been replaced by superior masterings by Irwin Chusid (Esquivel, Raymond Scott, Jim Flora, et. al.), and these are from the master tapes, as opposed to vinyl.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 8, 2019 - 3:31 PM   
 By:   Octoberman   (Member)

Sounds reasonable.
"Futuristic Sounds" it is, then.
Thanks, Onya.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 9, 2019 - 3:52 AM   
 By:   Graham Watt   (Member)

One of the amazing things about Sun Ra is that it's sometimes almost impossible to identify when the music was written and performed. It's not a bad thing at all to say that something sounds "Golden Age" (if we're talking about film scores) or "'60s-ish" to talk about a certain trend then common, but with Sun Ra you might be thinking, "That's SO post-1970!", only to find that you're listening to something from 1957.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 9, 2019 - 4:35 AM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

One of the amazing things about Sun Ra is that it's sometimes almost impossible to identify when the music was written and performed. It's not a bad thing at all to say that something sounds "Golden Age" (if we're talking about film scores) or "'60s-ish" to talk about a certain trend then common, but with Sun Ra you might be thinking, "That's SO post-1970!", only to find that you're listening to something from 1957.

Well, I think there are some characteristics that help to narrow down the time period.

The Chicago period, circa 1950s to very early early 60s, is more firmly rooted in big band jazz, though in an idiosyncratic manner. There are elements of exotica on several tracks, as Ra was heavily influenced by Martin Denny and Les Baxter. Sonny typically plays acoustic piano and occasionally Wurlitzer electric piano.

The New York period, early 60s to 1968, is marked by experimentation, free-form playing and extended improvisations, but sometimes within the framework of the jazz and exotica from the Chicago period.

The 70s saw lots of electronic keyboards and a continued use of outside playing and lengthy improvisations.

By the 1980s, he had returned to primarily acoustic piano - allegedly because his keyboards were stolen - and he seemed to embrace all the phases of his career. There was somewhat of a return to the jazz/big band tradition, but you could hear virtually everything associated with him, depending on the night.

This is a generalization, but I think it helps to provide context.

 
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