Saturday, August 6, 2016

101. Duke Ellington & His Orchestra - A Drum Is a Woman

Flickr Download DeviantArt

The whole original square image had to be stretched sideways in order to produce a 18x10 wallpaper.
This was accomplished by repositioning the album title and the name of the artist. 

This was all that was needed to be done.  The resulting image was already symmetrically perfect and
moreso when the album label banner was removed. If anything at all, the congas on both sides had to
be made to  look heavy  and the woman  at centre to look light,  almost like  floating in the air. This
was accomplished  with the  processing  of the percussion  instruments  with the Cutout  filter and by
replacing the conga on which the woman sat with her own  diminishing reflection. She also had to be
Posterized in order to brighten up her colours.

This is the original album cover art design.

Information wanted for original album cover art design and photography  and production of the album.
Columbia 1956. 

Duke Ellington's A Drum Is a Woman,  a jazz allegory  with songs by the  Duke and Billy Strayhorn and a
narrative in the Duke's ironic and  sometimes florid prose,  was composed and recorded in 1956. A year
later,  it was adapted for a  television  production.  In the more than three  decades since then,  it had
never been performed. 

Ellington's fantasy involves the seductive Madam Zajj, who seeks fame and sophistication, and Carabea
Joe, who is drawn  to the jungle  and its drums.  Madam Zajj's  attempts to lure  Carabea Joe from the
jungle takes them through  a quick history  of jazz from  New Orleans  to New York and be-bop, which
was the ultimate extension of jazz in 1956. John S. Wilson for The New York Times, June 28, 1988, abridged.

Duke Ellington  was always an enigma - a very  private  person who  revealed little of himself to anyone.  And A Drum is a Woman  is one of his most
enigmatic works:  theoretically  an account  of the  development  of jazz but actually a sprawling,  often eccentric,  product of Ellington's  stream of
consciousness, although it was actually composed by Ellington with his faithful collaborator, Billy Strayhorn.

Ellington called it "a tone parallel to the history of jazz". It was originally recorded in 1956 for a record album but was then presented as a television
special in May 1957 on the US Steel Hour. The TV version (an early experiment with colour) included dances featuring Carmen de Lavallade. It uses a
variety of musical styles: New Orleans jazz, calypso,  Ellingtonian swing, bebop, etc. and it takes the listener from Africa to the Caribbean via Congo
Square and 52nd Street to the moon!

If this sounds strange, it is.  Duke's narration is often puzzling and may be marred for modern listeners  by the old-fashioned attitude towards women
in the title-track  ("It isn't civilised to beat women,  No matter what they do or say,  But will somebody tell me  What else can you do with a drum?").
Despite being a confirmed devotee of Ellington's music, I find it hard to regard this as one of his major works.  It's bitty incomprehensibility militates
against its success,  and the mysterious  words might have been better replaced by more music from the wonderful band.  At times,  Ellington's words
sound more like a private meditation than a narration. Tony Augarde for Jazz CD Reviews, abridged.

(A) A Drum is a Woman -  Rhythm Pum Te Dum - What Else Can You Do With a Drum -  New Orleans - Hey, Buddy Bolden - Carribee Joe - Bongo Square

(B) Zajj: A Drum is a Woman - You Better Know It - Madam Zajj -  Ballet of the Flying Saucers - Zajj's Dream -  Rhumbop - Carribee Joe Part 2 - Finale

"What Else Can You Do With a Drum?" (audio) from buenasuerterecord on YouTube. 


Previous: Andrew Lloyd Webber - The Phantom of the Opera
Back to Gallery 4