Before: [chuckles] Sounds like Ellington a little bit, the calmness of the piano playing. It’s done with necessary precision and calmness. That is old Ellington I think. Sounds good. Those people can do probably anything they would like to do. That lady I have heard in the Concertgebouw. Maybe in 1947 or 48. She sings ok. She’s not going into astonishing voice gymnastics. She does what he does.
Did you ever get to meet him?
Ellington? Oh yes. It was really more or less impersonal. I was introduced to him in the Concertgebouw by a singer named Ann Burton, who was of Dutch off-spring living here in Holland. He was there and shaking hands with everyone. He didn’t say much: “go on and do good work,” or something. I saw in his voice and appearance some cynicism. He was not an outspoken cynic, but he had his moments of doubt veiled in politeness.
If he were here right now, what would you talk about?
I would say to him I have done something which maybe should not be done with any composer’s music, but I wanted to make a replay of a piece you did in the 1940s. It’s called “Happy Go Lucky Local.” The blues I threw out, but I like the long introduction with the train whistle. [sings it] That’s it. That’s the nucleus of the piece, I think. The rest, the blues, is for the people. He wanted the piece to be a success, so he put the blues there. This piece [we just heard] was well played and well done. Good stuff.