Read Lanier's essay, "Jazzing Up Shakespeare," on our Shakespeare & Beyond blog.
On the one hand, he’s popularizing Shakespeare by putting it into a popular jazz idiom, but on the other hand, he’s also claiming a kind of classical status for his own art. It’s like ‘keys, wallet, phone,’ but for working from home. I really love talking to you about it and love the opportunity to listen to this music. Become a member of the Folger Shakespeare Library and receive access to special member events. See a performance in our Elizabethan theater and come face-to-face with one of our First Folios—the first printed edition of Shakespeare's plays. You can easily learn it. Mornings can be rough, but Folgers can make them better! We talked with University of New Hampshire Professor of English Douglas Lanier about the suite, the second chapter of Ellington’s career, and how they reflect shifting cultural perceptions of jazz.
We asked in University of New Hampshire English Professor Douglas Lanier to talk about Such Sweet Thunder because he can do it from a unique perspective. BOGAEV: Let’s switch gears now and talk about the cultural significance of Such Sweet Thunder. Since its first performance, jazz historians have hailed Such Sweet Thunder as a monumental work that inspired the idea that jazz is America’s classical music. BOGAEV: Did you hear that? Folgers introduced the Morning Harmonizers on Nov. 25 in a 15-second spot on the brand’s Facebook page.
© Folger Shakespeare Library.
Oh, Dezzie dear, now you’re my wife,I mean to pass a happy life!Away, away, away, Dixieland. So there’s Midsummer—from the comedies there’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. Othello is a major influence there.
He’s saying, My art is like Shakespeare’s and it is up to being compared with Shakespeare; it is a kind of artistic vocabulary that is worthy of Shakespearean content. But it definitely isn’t your father’s Folgers coffee commercial.
His combination of Shakespeare and jazz is in some ways easier for the person who isn’t a jazz aficionado to understand than some of the later versions that are a bit more thorny.
LANIER: I think so. You’ve written that Duke Ellington’s music used to be called “jungle music.” Flesh out for us the connection—what that connection is between this highbrow transposing of Shakespeare into a jazz composition and Shakespeare and minstrel shows. The Folger is looking for exceptionally qualified individuals who are committed to the mission, vision, and values of our organization. You can find more about the Folger at our website, folger.edu. BOGAEV: What of Othello do you hear in the Othello section? What does that mean? It’s Geico meets “Glee” meets Folgers, something we’d expect to see on “SNL.” But the real stars in the ad — other than the half-naked, soaped … BOGAEV: Yeah. It had Louis Armstrong in it as Bottom. LANIER: That’s a fascinating one as well. LANIER: Oh, that I can’t tell you.
LANIER: Well, this is a case where we are fairly secure we know where it’s from. Seizes her. Because they created these musical sonnets in this piece as well, and I’m not sure I know what that means either. Garland Scott is the associate producer.
Thanks for listening. He wrote about Ellington’s Such Sweet Thunder for our 2007 exhibition, Shakespeare in American Life.
LANIER: At times, it’s almost musically experimental.
Folgers in your cup.
The Best Part Of Wakin’ Up® is Folgers in your cup. Original content available for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons license, except where noted. The Best Part Of Wakin’ Up® is Folgers in your cup. LANIER: Yeah.
It’s varied, it’s musically interesting, it has all of the wonderful qualities of Duke Ellington’s music and it’s a really good example of his art. In other words, what he did was he wrote 14 small melodies that were of 10 notes each. But if you do know your Shakespeare it brings an extra dimension to the enjoyment of it.
BOGAEV: It’s interesting, the suite opens with the Othello theme. But that said, I do think this is a special passion project because it allowed him essentially to lay claim to a kinship with an artist who was regarded by everyone as one of the greatest artists who had ever lived. And Puck is doing his impish intervening in their fates. A Midsummer Night's DreamThe TempestNathan the Wise, Streaming for freeFull performance + special features. The title tune: “Swingin’ the Dream.”. Mornings can be rough, but Folgers can make them better! I also read somewhere that he used soloists in his band like characters in a play, and that he sometimes called himself and amateur playwright. ", It’s Geico meets "Glee" meets Folgers, something we’d expect to see on "SNL.
His essay, “Jazzing Up Shakespeare,” about Duke Ellington’s Such Sweet Thunder, was originally written for the exhibition catalogue for Shakespeare in American Life, the Folger’s 75th anniversary exhibition in 2007. Thanks you. Sometimes that allows him to have elements of self-parody.
I’m thinking, like, Paul McCartney’s, Ocean’s Kingdom album back in 2011.
Garland Scott is the associate producer. We call this podcast I Never Heard So Musical A Discord. [CLIP: an actor sings a tune from late 19th-century minstrel show, Dar’s de Money (Burlesque on “Othello”). But thanks to a new holiday commercial from the nearly 170-year-old coffee roaster, the wholesome, catchy jingle is reaching a new audience with some laugh-out-loud — and cringeworthy — moments.
LANIER: Yes, you’re quite right.
Which performances and which plays were they so inspired by? He went to Stratford in 1956 as part of a concert series that they were doing. BOGAEV: You know, it’s so wild to think that Ellington and Strayhorn were working on this incredibly complicated, sophisticated music, often all night after a band date in the ballrooms of obscure hotels, right, where they were playing. [CLIP: actors read a scene from late 19th-century minstrel show, Dar’s de Money (Burlesque on “Othello”)]. To my ear, I hear a kind of quasi-tango rhythm. After hugs, coffee and presents, we’re left feeling warm and fuzzy. It all starts with a young woman who decides to surprise her showering husband while the couple are visiting his parents for the holidays. That’s to be seen. The plot is, Othello, a jealous Moor, runs off with Dars-de-money. 201 East Capitol Street, SE Washington, DC 20003, Main (202) 544-4600Box Office (202) 544-7077. What is he saying? You see pictures of him on trains, in coffee shops, and he’s always got a score sitting out in front of him.
I’m Michael Witmore, the Folger’s director. LOL alert: A new holiday commercial from Folgers is a big departure from the coffee roaster’s traditional holiday ads. LANIER: Yeah, this is part of a very long relationship between African-American music and Shakespeare that stretches back to the 19th century. I think that’s Ellington’s statement, of saying, I can do musically what I think Shakespeare did in terms of the portrayal of characters and genres. BOGAEV: But do you think would it have been hailed as such a masterpiece if it hadn’t been by Duke Ellington? We had technical help from Jennifer Swiatek and Phil Richards at KCRW public radio in Santa Monica, California.
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