I couldn't be happier. This concert was a true highlight of 2015 and a spectacular benchmark of years of friendship between Marshall, Ralph, and me. Each time I listen to this disc, I find myself smiling broadly, snapping along, and having a wonderfully fun experience. This recording really captures the excitement, honesty, and electricity of that memorable summer concert in Southwest Harbor. I sincerely hope that as you listen, you'll be inspired to smile and snap along, too!
Buy the new Ellington CD for the incredibly reasonable price of $15. If you add $5, I'll send you a copy of "Some Other Time."
Buy two or more of the new Ellington CD for the reduced price of $12.50/CD and I'll send you two copies of "Some Other Time" FOR FREE!
Buy 10 or more of the new Ellington CD for the incredible price of $10.00/CD and get free shipping I'll send you two copies of "Some Other Time" and two copies of "Friends" FOR FREE!
“Duke’s Diamonds: An Ellington Celebration,” is a wonderful remembrance of a most magical live concert given at the Claremont Hotel in Southwest Harbor, ME. This concert is really more than only one swinging night in August, 2015~ it exists because of relationships and friendships that were forged years before. Back in the mid-1980’s, as a teenager, I first met saxophonist Ralph Norris at a weekly jazz jam officiated by the great trombonist and educator, Don Doane. Since that time, Ralph and I have played countless gigs together and have become fast friends. In the 1990’s, I held a post at the Portland Conservatory of Music, where I met Bill McCue; the McCue family has owned the Claremont Hotel for decades. One evening, after I had presented a concert for the Conservatory, Bill asked if I might consider playing a summer concert in Southwest Harbor. I agreed, brought Ralph along and, beginning with that first event in the year 2000, we have played a concert there each consecutive year ~ it became a tradition that we continue to look forward to.
After about six or seven years into this tradition, Bill invited Ralph and me to “round out” our trio by inviting a third member to our chamber ensemble. So, for the past number of years, we have luckily performed as a trio consisting of piano, bass, and saxophone. Our dear friend, Marshall Wood, has been a part of this tradition and both Ralph and I are extremely grateful that he made the time to travel such a great distance in order to share in this musical experience.
In 2003, I was lucky to be hired as a teacher at Bates College. In this new environment and at a new job, I fortuitously discovered that I already had one familiar face on campus: Tom Hayward. You see, while Tom was a career librarian and lecturer at the college, he also has the distinction of being host to countless lectures and concerts at the Claremont Hotel. In actuality, Tom had introduced Ralph & me during our jazz concerts in the previous years.
What I did not know about Tom is that he is an absolute and consummate aficionado when it comes to jazz, its canon, and practitioners. Notably, amidst the enviable quantity and seemingly encyclopedic knowledge he has for jazz in general, he has a real specialty when it comes to all things related to Duke Ellington. After our 2014 performance at the Claremont, Tom, Ralph, and I conversed about the possibility of presenting a concert and lecture in 2015. This brainstorm took root and developed through discussions over the winter months and we decided that a concert of Ellington would be a fantastic idea. To narrow an otherwise leviathan tome of literature, Tom Hayward noted that those special “Webster/Blanton” years of 1940-1942 might be a great place to focus, especially since it would be the seventy-fifth anniversary of that configuration of Duke’s band. In so doing, not only were we able to present a concert of some of our favorite Ellington songs, but a title was also born: “Duke’s Diamonds”.
Although these wonderful narrations and vignettes are not on the CD, I am posting them here for all to enjoy. They are engaging, edifying, and entertaining! I hope that, at least once, you’ll re-create our concert experience by playing these clips at the beginning and then in between each of the tracks on the CD. Thank you, Tom Hayward, for this fantastic idea of lecture/concert and for being an inspiring part of our 2015 concert at the Claremont.