Papers relating to Duke Ellington, once owned by Ellington's publicist Joe Morgen: Morgen's correspondence, much of it relating to appearances by Ellington; photographs; some financial records; some music manuscripts of Ellington's; concert and theater programs; a film of Ellington at the White House in 1969 when he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Nixon; and press releases and newspaper and magazine articles.
Scope and Contents note:
The collection consists of material compiled by Joe Morgen as an employee of Duke Ellington from 1957 to 1979. This includes correspondence, some of Morgen=s personal financial records, photographs, magazine articles, and newspaper clippings about Ellington. In addition there are public relations and biographical sketches about Ellington, a 35mm film of Ellington at the White House when he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Nixon, and an acetate reference recording of AAfro-Bossa.@ There are also materials not related to Ellington that include miscellaneous sheet music from the AJudy Garland Show,@ documents for the 1960s program AYouth Wants to Know,@ some 45 rpm commercial and test sound recordings of Mary Lou Williams performing some of her music, broadsides of various jazz musicians printed on black cloth, and other unidentified documents.
The collection is organized into eleven series:
Series 1: Joe Morgen Correspondence and Personal Papers
Series 2: Photographs, Slides, and Negatives
Series 3: Judy Garland Show Sheet Music
Series 4: Ellington Materials
Series 5: Sound Recordings
Series 6: Biographical and Press Related Materials
Series 7: Programs, Invitations, and Flyers
Series 8: Publications
Series 9: Magazine and Newspaper Clippings
Series 10: Film Reel, Duke Ellington at the White House
Series 11: Miscellaneous
Rev. John Garcia Gensel, a Lutheran minister at St. Peter's church in New York City, 1956-1993, was a close confidant and spiritual presence within the New York jazz community. Conducting evening jazz vespers from 1965 until 1993, Gensel was able to develop close ties with New York's jazz musicians and their families. He believed that jazz was the best music for worship because it spoke to the existential nature of the person playing it. Along with conducting his jazz vespers, Gensel also officiated at weddings, baptisms, and funerals for much of the jazz community, including those of Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Dizzy Gillespie. Duke Ellington, a close friend and confidant, dedicated part of his Second Sacred Concert, The Shepard (Who Watches Over the Night Flock) to Gensel.
Joe Morgen, described as a fast talking Broadway-beat publicist, was hired by Ellington in 1957 to manage his public relations. Although he was disliked by Billy Strayhorn and perceived by others as graceless and aggressive, Ellington nonetheless overlooked Morgen's weaknesses. In his memoir Music Is My Mistress Ellington wrote, "I think he does a great job. He is an extraordinary individual, and I always say he is a man who doesn't have the tiniest facet of the devious in his makeup". Regardless of his reputation, Morgen proved highly adept at regaining media attention for Duke Ellington's music through features published in publications such as Look, the New York Times, and Newsweek. Phoebe Jacobs, head of promotion for the Basin Street Nightclub, said, "Joe Morgen made all of that happen. He sold everybody on Ellington." Morgen remained loyal to Ellington long after his death by working with his foundation to produce a benefit show and tribute to Duke to help raise money for the Ellington Cancer Foundation.
Fuller Up: The Dead Musicians Directory. Rev. John Gensel, 80, Pastor of Jazz Community'
Ellington, Edward Kennedy Duke. Music is My Mistress. New York: Double Day, 1978. 435.
Hajdu, David. Lush Life, A Biography of Billy Strayhorn. New York: Farrar, Strauss,& Giroux, 1996. 166-169.
The collection was donated to the Smithsonian Institution in 1993 by John Gensel. The collection was turned over to the Archives Center in October 2000, with the Deed of Gift being signed in January 2001 by Gensel's widow. It is unknown clear how the materials came into the possession of Father Gensel from Joe Morgen.
Collection is open for research.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.