For the fourth time in the last six years, CMCI cultural historian Dr Harvey G Cohen participated in the London Jazz Festival. On Saturday evening 23 November 2013 he spoke on a panel as part of a series of all-day events entitled “Essentially Ellington” at the Southbank Centre on the South Bank.
Dr Cohen was joined by author and BBC radio commentator Kevin LeGendre, as well as music historian and Billy Strayhorn expert Dr Walter Van de Leur from the University and Conservatory of Amsterdam. Walter and Harvey had not seen each other since they were both researching their respective books on Ellington and Strayhorn (Ellington’s close friend and writing companion) at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. during the late 20th-century, and they had a fun reunion in front of a crowd of more than a hundred spectators.
The entire Ellington programme that day was impressive and lasted more than seven hours, but Cohen was most impressed with a unnamed DJ duo that imaginatively remixed Ellington musical and verbal sound snippets until the late night hours, proving that Ellington’s creative relevance is enduring far into the 21st century, if not beyond.