Yale University Library


OHAM: Aaron Bell on Ellington



Ellington Project
Aaron Bell
with Dan Friedheim
New York City, NY
November 25, 1977



Tape A:

Duke as bandleader--impact of Duke's artistic ability on his music-­choosing band members--shaping performances--"Monterey Jazz Festival Suite"--minimal rehearsing--potential of the band--Duke's way of not criticizing band members or changing the music--leaving the band-­Duke's way of replacing band members--loss of musicians to the New York scene in the sixties--hiring musicians--playing with Coleman Hawkins and Dizzy Gillespie--importance of the bass player--joining the band and being featured on "Jack the Bear"--Duke's directions-­closeness to Duke--financial complaints of band--music number one in Duke's life--family and music--Duke's generosity--playing with Perez and others--effects of working with Ellington on playing--capturing the great moments of performances--story about Mozart and compared to Duke--lack of rehearsal--his piece in the band.

Tape B:

"Nutcracker Suite" arrangement and recording--Ellington's changes in it as recording session progressed--band's approach to "Nutcracker Suite", "Peer Gynt" etc.--copying scores and arrangements--Duke's way of writing out scores--lasting qualities of Ellington's music--Rock--new interest in Jazz--publishing of Ellington's music and new book of his songs--Mercer's continuing with the band--Mingus--Oscar Pettiford--Jimmy Blanton--playing bass with Ellington--present employment--present musical situation--Ornette Coleman--Duke's interest in new creative music--memories of great moments with the band--taking cues from Duke--Duke's handling of problems in the band--conflict with Duke-­grudges in the band--playing in New Orleans when young--touring with Duke--difference in Duke's band and New Orleans bands--other players-­difficulties in music world for Black musicians.