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Drummer Alex Riel with Duke Ellington and Sam Woodyard

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Published on Oct 17, 2007

Duke Ellington and drummer Sam Woodyard present Danish drummer Alex Riel with the "Danish Jazz Musician Of The Year" award. Copenhagen, Denmark 1965.

From http://www.myspace.com/alexriel

With Alex Riel's own words:
"It was in 1965 and I was 25 years old at that time. I remember how bassist Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen had recieved the award the year before - because we'd been making bets about who'd get it first!
Anyway, this was taking place at the Falconer Concert Hall in Copenhagen where the Ellington band was playing that night. I had a late gig at the Jazzhus Montmartre so I had to hurry over there right after the award ceremony. Actually the owner of the jazzclub got mad at me for showing up late! He softened up the next day though, when it was national top news. It was a big thing back then in Denmark.
It's very obvious in the clip how surprised Sam Woodyard was to be called down from the drums. I met Sam many years later and we talked about it. He recalled the night very clearly, as Duke had never asked him to come to the front before. He'd gotten very bewildered!
After the two of them present me the cheque something happens, which isn't shown very clearly on the video. But Ellington says to me "let's have some fun!" The tenor player Paul Gonsalves was sound asleep behind us (he had this disease that made him fall asleep all the time, even on the band stand). Duke wanted to play a little joke on him, so he turns me around to introduce me to Gonsalves. What Duke DIDN'T know was that Gonsalves and I knew each other very well from playing together at the Jazzhus Montmartre, where I was the house drummer. In fact he'd just been jamming there 3 nights in a row.
So, Duke wakes up Gonsalves and expects him to get all confused by seeing a stranger standing there in front of him. But instead Gonsalves just looks up at me as the most natural thing in the world and says "Oh, hi Alex, how are you?" That's the reason everybody is laughing. Even Johnny Hodges!"

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