Saturday, May 12, 2012

Duke Ellington * Paul Gonsalves * Mt. Harissa

Photo of Our Lady of Lebanon courtesy of leoslifelog : Check out more of Leo's work here.

The centerpiece of Duke Ellington's misnomered masterpiece, The Far East Suite (the locations for which are in the Near and Middle East), is a majestic tone poem entitled "Mt. Harissa."

The inspiration for this movement is the 15 ton bronze statue (painted white) of the Blessed Virgin Mary, known as Our Lady of Lebanon, standing with arms outstretched atop a mountain village some 20 km north of Beirut.

The movement features my favorite solo of Paul Gonsalves, longtime tenor man with the Ellington band. The album was released in 1966, and if you listen carefully, Gonsalves quotes Jobim's "The Girl from Ipanema", which was a smash hit two years earlier for Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto. The lyric of that tune includes a yearning sentiment that the beautiful young subject of the song notice the man singing. Because of this, and because Ellington's "Mt. Harissa" is concerned with the Blessed Virgin, I can't help but hear in Gonsalves' solo a hint of those lines from the Salve Regina: "Turn then, O gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us..."

Such is the suggestive and poetic power of jazz.

Once again, the stunning image of Our Lady of Lebanon above is used courtesy of a talented photographer's blog found here:

Thank you, Leo, for posting such a moving artwork.  


Leo said...

Hey Marlborough Man,

inspirational post and thanks for your kind words on my photo. Very happy you like it!


Marlborough Man said...

I think your photo captured exactly what Duke getting at. I must have checked out a hundred photos of Our Lady of Lebanon, but yours sang "Mt Harissa."

Thanks for sharing, man.