Last month, CMCI cultural historian Harvey G. Cohen delivered the opening keynote lecture, entitled “Duke Ellington in American History,” for the 2014 international Duke Ellington conference, held at the Amsterdam Conservatory of Music in the Netherlands. Much new and impressive research was premiered by scholars such as David Schiff and Walter van de Leur, and the live music at the event was particularly good, featuring a rare David Berger-conducted performance of Ellington’s 45-minute masterpiece “Black, Brown and Beige,” Ellington’s musical tribute to black history, which has only been performed in its entirely a half dozen times since its controversial premiere in 1943.
During the conference, Cohen was also honored to be asked to interview Ellington’s granddaughter Mercedes Ellington onstage, where they spoke about her stellar dance and choreography career, and her own personal efforts during the 1960s to integrate American television shows as a performer on the Jackie Gleason show. A picture from that interview illustrates this post.
For more details on the conference, consult: http://www.ellington-2014.nl/