[JPL] Ellington and The Road of the Phoebe Snow
jsimna at wclv.com
Wed Apr 27 08:19:14 EDT 2011
Regarding the name Phoebe Snow: The name was attached to the Delaware,
Lackawanna and Western Railroad. She was a character created to emphasize
the fact that the railroad used clean-burning anthracite coal - less soot
from the locomotives pulling the passenger trains, cleaner clothes - hence,
as white as snow. As I recall offhand, the railroad even named its top
passenger train after her, and described the Railraod itself as "The Route
of the Phoebe Snow."
It would seem a workable assumption that that led to the ballet...
jsimna at wclv.com
>From Tom Reney:
I was always intrigued by the origin of her name, and attributed it to a
Duke Ellington-Billy Strayhorn piece entitled "The Road of the Phoebe
Snow," which is listed in the appendix of Duke's memoir,/ Music Is My
Mistress/. Its publication year is 1971, a posthumous copyright in the
case of Strayhorn, who died in 1967. On the one or two occasions when I
thought to look for it, I couldn't find any recordings of the piece.
But yesterday, in reply to a query I made to David Berger, Mark Harvey,
and other Ellington specialists, I learned that "The Road of the Phoebe
Snow" was actually a dance piece by Alvin Ailey comprised of different
parts of Ellington works like /Such Sweet Thunder/, /A Drum Is A Woman,/
and /Anatomy Of A Murder/. Mark Harvey recalls that the late Bostonian
Herb Pomeroy, an expert in Ellingtonia who occasionally spelled Cootie
Williams in the band, scored a performance of "The Road of the Phoebe
Snow" for a production by the Boston Ballet.
Speaking of Ellington and Ailey, in 1970 they collaborated on/ The
River/, which was choreographed and composed for the American Ballet
Theatre. It was Ellington's first symphonic score written specifically
for dance. A recorded version is available on DUKE ELLINGTON: THE
PRIVATE COLLECTION Volume V.
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