Yale University Library


OHAM: Jimmy McPhail on Ellington


Jimmy McPhail

with Mark Tucker

Washington, D.C.

September 29, 1983


Side A:                                                                                                           p. 2-23

Early History, growing up in Washington, D.C.--being in the “Armstrong Four”--working at the Howard Theater with Ellington--Jackson Low, manager--1963--Sacred Concerts with Ellington--people from Armstrong, Rick Henderson, Charlie Rouse--teachers, Mr. Amos and Mrs. Webster--Billy Eckstine--Dizzy Gillespie, John Malachi--singing in church choirs--working with Ella Fitzgerald at the Howard Theater--rehearsals, four shows a day--Billy Strayhorn--recording “My People,” Sacred Concert with Ellington--doing Sacred Concerts and maintaining teaching--Bunny Briggs--Alice Babs--McCormack’s Place--rehearsing with Billy Strayhorn--Herman McCoy--audience response to My People--doing regular concerts with Ellington--Cress Courtney--Ruth Ellington--Tony Watkins--musical aspirations--Johnny Hartman--waiting for a chance to sing--Jimmy Grissolm--Sacred Concert in San Francisco--Bishop Pike, Grace Cathedral--St. John’s Cathedral.

Side B:                                                                                                            p. 23-40

Monterey Jazz Festival--traveling on the band bus--finances, sending money home to his wife--Johnny Hodges, Cootie Williams--their seats on the bus--Paul Gonsalves--Herbie Jones--working with Ellington, Duke being the only star--Second Sacred Concert, 1968--Esther Morrow--rehearsals for the Second Sacred Concert--Roscoe Gill--Joya Sherrill--performances at St.  John the Divine in New York--Buster Brown, Honi Coles--comparison of tunes from 1950 to those after Second Sacred Concert--difference between Sacred concerts and Dances--typical programming for one-nighters--being on call to sing--Ellington’s preference for traveling by car--McPhail’s club, teaching--Paul Gonsalves--Willy Cook--Booty Wood, trombone--Mercer encouraging McPhail to be in Ellington’s band--recording for Mercer’s Gaye Records Company in New York--the Ellington Sound--performing in Canada--working with Mercer--Al Hibbler--admiration for Billy Eckstine, Bill Kenney, Frank Sinatra--the special attitude at Armstrong towards Ellington--memories of Ellington--relationship with Ellington--Sacred Concerts--today’s views of Ellington--the values of working under Ellington.