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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Jazz > Duke Ellington - Memories Of Duke

Duke Ellington Ė Memories Of Duke (Concert/Documentary)


Picture: C†††† Sound: C+†††† Extras: D†††† Film: B



In the later part of his career, Duke Ellington took part in a feature film about his music and Memories Of Duke (1980) remains a fine concert film.As directed by producer Gary Keys long before, on a Mexican tour in 1968, the film takes a page out of the Rockumentary book and adds interviews throughout.They are great, as are the following music performances:


1)     Satin Doll

2)     Black & Tan Fantasy

3)     Creole Love Call

4)     The Mooch

5)     Happy-Go-Lucky Local

6)     Mexican Suite

7)     It Donít Mean A Thing (If It Ainít Got That Swing)

8)     I Got It Bad (And That Ainít Good)

9)     Things Ainít What They Used To Be

10) Mood Indigo (a classic monochrome film clip)

11) Take The ĎAí Train

12) Sophisticated Lady

13) Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me



I love the opening titles, the classic portrait of Duke and the use of Art Deco lettering all over the place from optical printing on the film to identify all these great artists.I also like some of the other fancy optical printing I wish the film had more of.This turns out to be a remarkable record of Duke in his latter years, still in terrific form.


The full frame image was shot on film and holds up better as a result, but it is a print with damage here and there, plus the video master is muddy enough to suggest this was from a professional analog NTSC source.At least it still exists, but this deserves restoration, which MVD should do when a copy is needed for digital High Definition.Whether this is 35mm or really good 16mm shooting is hard to tell, but I liked it despite the performance limits here and major credit goes to the three cameramen who lensed it:Urs Furrer, Bill Hudson and Ed Lachman.Either way, the sound is here in 2.0 Stereo and a 5.1 mix that are both weak, only because the mix is a generation or so down.Phil Pearl and Fred Bouch recorded the sound and I wonder if the original stereo master is held by the Ellington estate or not.The 5.1 is still better, though it spreads the sound around a bit, but it is superior to the lame 2.0 mix.


There are no extras, except for a small section on other titles from MVD in the Jazz genre you can see by two frames of cover images.Hopefully, having a DVD of the film out will cause new interest in Duke.An Ellington compilation called Swinging At His Best is reviewed elsewhere on this site and was issued at the same time by Passport/Koch.



-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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