J.A.W.

Ellington 1930s big-band Mosaic

420 posts in this topic

Didn't seem to be a different box to me, but there was plenty of bubble wrap; everyhting looked really okay when it got here.

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No change

Could the people who have received their Ellington set tell us if Mosaic have changed the boxes they use for shipping? JAW mentioned a few months ago that they were considering using sturdier boxes. As I have received quite a few battered sets in the past, I would welcome the change.

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I received my order on Tuesday and the back of the booklet had a few white scuff marks and one of the cd cases was cracked. So something was dropped or set on top of my box during shipping. Thinking of sending Mosaic an email.... My shipment was bubble wrapped and the Mobley set that came with the Ellington 30s big band set was unharmed. The only problem I have had in the past was loose cd's. I think the shipping quality has gone downhill since they outsourced it to a 3rd party.

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I received my order on Tuesday and the back of the booklet had a few white scuff marks and one of the cd cases was cracked. So something was dropped or set on top of my box during shipping. Thinking of sending Mosaic an email.... My shipment was bubble wrapped and the Mobley set that came with the Ellington 30s big band set was unharmed. The only problem I have had in the past was loose cd's. I think the shipping quality has gone downhill since they outsourced it to a 3rd party.

Please do e-mail Mosaic about this, they appreciate feedback about their current shipping process.

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I just sent them an email. I know it's not Mosaic's fault directly. Either it is insufficient packaging quality/materials or UPS really had a field day with my package. I hate to complain to a company such as Mosaic, but I value and take care of my box sets...and having one damaged like this is kind of a let down.

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The Ellington box is already on backorder!

Good for Mosaic :tup

See post #193 :)

After mocking King Ubu for missing one of my post in the 'Ella in Hollywood' tread, I find myself in the same position for missing an earlier post here.

I'll join Ubu in the Organissimo penitents corner :unsure:

bier.gif

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Could the people who have received their Ellington set tell us if Mosaic have changed the boxes they use for shipping? JAW mentioned a few months ago that they were considering using sturdier boxes. As I have received quite a few battered sets in the past, I would welcome the change.

Well, the box seems to be unchanged. My set arrived undamaged, but there was a torn seam on the box (this has happened before). They do use plenty of bubble wrap but really could use a sturdier mailer. UPS is pretty rough with packages.

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#628 has landed in perfect condition in Santa Barbara. (In this case maybe we can brag about who has the number closest to 1,000 as wel as who has the lowest number.)

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Ah, number envy. :mellow:

I am proud to have Mosaic Select #6 with #0006. Nice coincidence.

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I hope the box is not too shiny. The last one I bought was very shiny. I might have to send it back if this one is just as shiny.

Think mine is stuck in a warehouse somewhere along with most of the UK's post at present. The weather conditions seem to have turned us to two deliveries a week!

Edited by A Lark Ascending

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Think mine is stuck in a warehouse somewhere along with most of the UK's post at present. The weather conditions seem to have turned us to two deliveries a week!

I expect you'll receive it sometime in the New Year. Very little seems to be getting through.

Edited by sidewinder

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Disc 4 of this set is where the swinging really gets deep. . . .

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Disc 4 of this set is where the swinging really gets deep. . . .

Totally agree, I made it through disk 4 and 5 yesterday, and the band was really hitting it's stride.

Edited by Jazz Nut

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Ah, number envy. :mellow:

I am proud to have Mosaic Select #6 with #0006. Nice coincidence.

My Turrentine box recently came with no number - not in the booklet, not on the receipt. I asked Mosaic for the #, and got this reply from Scott:

"The booklets are pre-numbered and therefore we have no idea what each set is numbered. This is one of the downfalls of the economy as we are now just 3 people in offices, while a fulfillment house a few miles away is where the warehouse is.

Sorry for the inconvenience."

:(

Music's still great, though.

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Bummer... Cindy would have fixed this.....

Ah, number envy. :mellow:

I am proud to have Mosaic Select #6 with #0006. Nice coincidence.

My Turrentine box recently came with no number - not in the booklet, not on the receipt. I asked Mosaic for the #, and got this reply from Scott:

"The booklets are pre-numbered and therefore we have no idea what each set is numbered. This is one of the downfalls of the economy as we are now just 3 people in offices, while a fulfillment house a few miles away is where the warehouse is.

Sorry for the inconvenience."

:(

Music's still great, though.

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Bummer... Cindy would have fixed this.....

Ah, number envy. :mellow:

I am proud to have Mosaic Select #6 with #0006. Nice coincidence.

My Turrentine box recently came with no number - not in the booklet, not on the receipt. I asked Mosaic for the #, and got this reply from Scott:

"The booklets are pre-numbered and therefore we have no idea what each set is numbered. This is one of the downfalls of the economy as we are now just 3 people in offices, while a fulfillment house a few miles away is where the warehouse is.

Sorry for the inconvenience."

:(

Music's still great, though.

Just write in your own number. 0001 might be nice. :D

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Decided to sample my set by going to the final disc because it includes one of my favorite Ellington recordings "The Sergeant Was Shy." Sound is great, but Steve Lasker's liner notes are a big disappointment IMO -- not for what Lasker does say (a good deal of nuts-and-bolts info, albeit much of it sifted from other sources, all carefully cited) but for what he doesn't deal with. So many opportunities for insightful responses to this incredibly subtle, endlessly fascinating music, and from what I can see so far, there's very little if anything of that sort here.

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Decided to sample my set by going to the final disc because it includes one of my favorite Ellington recordings "The Sergeant Was Shy." Sound is great, but Steve Lasker's liner notes are a big disappointment IMO -- not for what Lasker does say (a good deal of nuts-and-bolts info, albeit much of it sifted from other sources, all carefully cited) but for what he doesn't deal with. So many opportunities for insightful responses to this incredibly subtle, endlessly fascinating music, and from what I can see so far, there's very little if anything of that sort here.

I think I know what you are saying, his notes are factual and historical. Were you wanting more of a track by track analysis on musical value? aka Loren Schoenberg? Schoenberg is an experienced musician/historian whereas Lasker (not that I know for sure) appears to be a historian/collector. I think Lasker's liner notes are certainly a change from what we are all used to, however this allows the listener/reader to judge the music for themselves. With that said, of any artist/composer, Ellington gives SO many opportunities for insightful commentaries to his "beyond category" music. I think if there could be a balance between a subjective Schoenberg and the objective Lasker that would be the best. BTW, Schoenberg, in the Lionel Hampton Mosaic set misidentifies Marshal Royal for another altoist Ray Perry. The song is "Bouncing at the Beacon" it's clearly early 40s Marshal Royal. I haven't come across any mistakes like that in the Ellington 30s big band set.

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Decided to sample my set by going to the final disc because it includes one of my favorite Ellington recordings "The Sergeant Was Shy." Sound is great, but Steve Lasker's liner notes are a big disappointment IMO -- not for what Lasker does say (a good deal of nuts-and-bolts info, albeit much of it sifted from other sources, all carefully cited) but for what he doesn't deal with. So many opportunities for insightful responses to this incredibly subtle, endlessly fascinating music, and from what I can see so far, there's very little if anything of that sort here.

I think I know what you are saying, his notes are factual and historical. Were you wanting more of a track by track analysis on musical value? aka Loren Schoenberg? Schoenberg is an experienced musician/historian whereas Lasker (not that I know for sure) appears to be a historian/collector. I think Lasker's liner notes are certainly a change from what we are all used to, however this allows the listener/reader to judge the music for themselves. With that said, of any artist/composer, Ellington gives SO many opportunities for insightful commentaries to his "beyond category" music. I think if there could be a balance between a subjective Schoenberg and the objective Lasker that would be the best. BTW, Schoenberg, in the Lionel Hampton Mosaic set misidentifies Marshal Royal for another altoist Ray Perry. The song is "Bouncing at the Beacon" it's clearly early 40s Marshal Royal. I haven't come across any mistakes like that in the Ellington 30s big band set.

Yes, Schoenberg's notes to the Woody Herman set were particularly excellent and enlightening. I don't think of his work there as subjective so much, though his responses are of course his own; they typically discuss those specific musical details that make a difference. His account of Dave Tough's drum work is a splendid example.

I'm not blaming Tasker for being who he is; rather, I wish that he had been asked to do his thing to some extent, and someone else had been asked to do the other. When I think of what Larry Gushee did for those two Smithonsian Ellington sets....! To me such commentary doesn't at all get in the way of my judging for myself; it hones and stimulates my responses.

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Loren Schoenberg's notes for the Herman set were revelatory. He's also done an excellent job on several other Mosaics, including the recent Goodman; he, Dan Morgenstern, and Larry are my favorite Mosaic writers (Larry, I still hold out hope that one day we'll see your byline on some sort of Mosaic Lee Konitz Verve set. :excited: ) Speaking of Mr. Kart, see pg. 57-62 of his book Jazz in Search of Itself for a wonderfully detailed assessment of "The Sergeant Was Shy."

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Mine arrived yesterday! Pretty quick (USPS to Finland) this time.

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I received the shipping notification last Monday! :excited:

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Mine #921 arrived today. Isn't the booklet slightly downsized?

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I forgot, but I wrote two different pieces about "The Sergeant Was Shy. Both are in my book; here they are:

[1984]

Jazz used to be, and in many ways still is, a form of popular entertainment--a music so linked to the expectations of its audience it may seem unlikely that any performance would deserve the close attention given to masterworks of the classical repertoire. But quite a few jazz artists have managed to have it both ways, entertaining the public while satisfying their own imaginations and meeting the highest standards of musical creativity. Chief among them was the late Duke Ellington, “the most masterful of all blues idiom arranger-composers,” in the words of critic Albert Murray, who went on to say that “a literary equivalent [of Ellington] would be beyond Melville, Henry James and Faulkner.” If that claim sounds extreme, it is backed up by any number of Ellington performances; for within his best pieces the sheer density of events and the emotional richness of the whole are a never-ending joy to contemplate--even though, until the advent of the long-playing record, most Ellington recordings lasted less than three minutes.

One of those Ellington masterworks, recorded on August 28, 1939, is “The Sergeant Was Shy,” a portrait, according to the composer, of a “tough fighting man” who is “real shy in private life.” “The Sergeant Was Shy” is a variation on “Bugle Call Rag,” which Elmer Schoebel com¬posed in 1923 for the New Orleans Rhythm Kings. Not a genuine rag, “Bugle Call” is a series of twelve-bar blues choruses, each of which begins with a four-bar, bugle-call “break,” a passage during which the rest of the ensemble remains silent while the soloist soars on his own. “Reveille,” the bugle call that originally began the piece, soon was replaced by “Assembly,” an equally familiar but more musically attractive bugle call; and a strain from W.C. Handy’s “Ole Miss” (sixteen bars in length and without breaks) is added to most performances of “Bugle Call Rag” for the sake of variety.

With those materials to work with, Ellington could have given his audience a straightforward version of the piece, which is what he did when he recorded “Bugle Call Rag” in 1932, and which is what Benny Goodman did when he made a very popular recording of “Bugle Call” in 1937. “The Sergeant Was Shy,” however, is a remarkably oblique, subtle work--a fantasy-variation on “Bugle Call Rag” that is so full of fascinating musical detail and so rich in dramatic wit that one hardly can believe it lasts only two minutes, thirty-six seconds.

Ellington begins not with the familiar bugle-call break but with a sixteen-bar introduction, dividing the orchestra into four separate instrumental units (five if we count the rhythm section) that enter at four-bar intervals, with one layer of sound placed atop another until one feels that the entire rhythmic-tonal canvas has been charged with meaning. First, we hear either two or three woodsy-toned, lower-register clarinets playing a figure whose rhythmic shape, rendered onomatopoeically, is “Dee-doodle-doo …dee-doodle-doo.”After four bars pass, three trombones (one of them Juan Tizol’s valve trombone ) enter with “Bop…boo-bop, boo-bop-boo-bop,” fol¬lowed four bars later by three cup muted trumpets play “Boop-bee-doodly-boop-boop, boop-bee-doodly-boop- boop.” And in the next four bars, clarinetist Barney Bigard adds to all this an upper-register trill that sounds like a continuous “Wheeeeee!” Perfectly lucid to the ear, this passage is remarkable from a rhythmic point of view, for as “Dee-doodle-doo” and the rest should indicate, the figures played by each of the four layers of instruments emphasizes a different beat (or subdivision of the beat) within the four-beats-to-the-bar pulse--perhaps, as one critic has suggested, to evoke the sounds of four different military drill teams passing in review.

The instrumentation itself is a typically Ellingtonian tapestry of tone colors, although the sensuous appeal of each layer of sound is inseparable from the rest of its musical meaning. The tango-like glide of the trombone figures, for instance, would have a very different impact if played on a different group of instruments. Clearly this is not a brass-saxophone-and-rhythm dance band, although the Ellington orchestra could function in that way, but a flexible, fourteen-man “instrument” from which Ellington was able to summon up just about any combination of sounds that came to mind.

But back to “The Sergeant Was Shy,” for almost nine-tenths of the piece lies ahead, including that obligatory bugle call, which surely ought to arrive rather soon. When it comes, though, Ellington has tucked it away slyly--at the end, not at the beginning, of the next chorus. Played by four saxophones instead of by the solo trumpet one expects, and without a “break” feeling, the familiar melody sounds dogged and trudging, without the aura of exuberant release the bugle call normally evokes. Exuberance emerges at the beginning of the third chorus, however, which is launched by four bars of chattering muted trumpets -- a coy, almost rickety-tick sound that is answered four bars later by a suave saxophone-section countermelody, which continues for sixteen bars while the trumpets stick to their pattern. Here is a fine example of Ellington’s musical-dramatic counterpoint, for in addition to the perfect rhythmic fit between the trumpets’ brisk but essentially static figures and the saxophones’s sinuous glides, the trumpet line seems mocking and puckish, while the saxophone counter-melody has a stately aristocratic aura to it that, in effect, chastens the trumpets’ nose-thumbing sprightliness.

Now, from the fourth chorus through the eighth chorus, Ellington launches into the stand¬ard twelve-bar “Bugle Call Rag” pattern, with the breaks being played in succession by Bigard, cornetist Rex Stewart, the saxophones, the trombones, and unmuted trumpets. Chorus six is very intense, with Stewart insisting on repeated high notes until his relationship to the shifting saxophone harmonies beneath him becomes quite dissonant. Then at the beginning of chorus eight there is a moment of pure glory, as the golden-toned trumpets play a break that is all celebration and joyful release.

But there is one further act to this drama. (By this time, one has no doubt that Ellington is thinking in dramatic terms.) The rest of the eighth chorus finds the trumpets returning to their sassy, mocking mode, and, as before, this cannot remain unchallenged. The “elder” chosen to wag his musical finger at the trumpets in the ninth and final chorus is trombonist Tricky Sam Nanton, but in the marvelous sixteen bars that end “The Sergeant Was Shy,” no one really gets the upper hand. Darting in and out of the orchestral texture, Nanton’s “wah-wah/yah-yah” figures swing so hard that he and the irrepressible trumpets finally inhabit the same emotional world, and his final talking phrase seems to say, “Oh yeah, you were right,” just before baritone saxophonist Harry Carney seals off the performance with a virile, thudding “Whomp.”

In purely musical terms, much more could be said about ‘The Sergeant Was Shy.” There is, for example, another striking dissonance in chorus nine, as the end of Nanton’s break clashes with the trumpets’ flaring figures in a passage that brings to mind the reaction of the young Charles Mingus to his first live Ellington performance: “Someplace, something he did, I screamed.” But if the piece is so dramatic, what is it about, in addition to that “tough fighting man” who is “shy in private life”? And where, aside from “Bugle Call Rag,” did it come from? One guess would be that “The Sergeant Was Shy” is a celebration of one of the many ways in which black Americans have transformed the “givens” of American life--in this case, the military drill patterns that were taught to many black high school students of Ellington’s age by black instructors who had served in the Spanish-American War. The idea, as novelist Ralph Ellison once said, was to make those drill patterns swing, to infuse the jazz spirit into every corner of experience. But perhaps that is just another way of saying that “The Sergeant Was Shy” is a joyfully triumphant celebration of itself.

The above piece was written to coincide with a conference on Ellington’s music that was held at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I returned to “The Sergeant Was Shy” thirteen years later for a Village Voice jazz supplement--the task being to describe a favorite Ellington recording in 200 words or less. (I made it a point to write exactly 200.)

[1997]

Knowing the emotional etymology of almost every sound a man could make and what those sounds said about the men who made them, Ellington built into some of his best works (and, of course, into the orchestra that co-created them) a special sort of musical self-awareness. “The Sergeant Was Shy,” from August 1939, is lovely that way, a kind of glorious, golden jest about how many ways there might be to feel about bits and pieces of “Bugle Call Rag”--marchingly mysterioso, Frenchified tangoish, parade-ground earnest, and “Here comes the band!” gleeful (all in the first sixteen bars alone). And yes, this two-minute, thirty-six second kaleidoscope of moods is about being such a kaleidoscope, about the ways we inevitably place ourselves by the way we sound. In fact, I think that among the most central points of celebration that Ellington ever allowed himself is the blaze-of-sunlight break with which the trumpet section begins chorus eight, after which the master chastens their sassiness with the finger-wagging of Tricky Sam Nanton (this leads to fierce dissonance) and then asks Harry Carney to smack his basso seal of sobriety on a seriocomic masterpiece.

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