Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Happy Birthday, Duke Ellington

Today, we raise our half-filled glasses to Duke's six decades in music. Then we drain them listening to his music. There are so many great clips of Duke and his orchestra, I couldn't even begin to post all of them. Here's a rare one: the incomparable composer/arranger Billy Strayhorn plays with the band and solos on "Take The A Train".


We follow this with "The Hawk Talks" from 1955. Louis Bellson kicks serious derriere with a cool drum solo, giving Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich a run for their money.


The showman on the trumpet is the marvelous multi-instrumentalist Ray Nance. . . yes, the same Ray Nance who turns up playing swinging jazz violin alongside Stefane Grappelli and others.

Next up, a slice of living history: Duke and his orchestra in Symphony In Black, one of a series of artfully photographed one-reelers produced by Paramount Pictures in 1935. It features a very young Billie Holiday, singing beautifully in the role of a woman brutally scorned by an ex-lover mean enough to give Pollyanna the mood indigo blues.



And here's Sophisticated Lady featuring the great Harry Carney on baritone sax:



And now I must listen to that Ellington Uptown CD. . . Thanks for all that amazing music, Duke!

2 comments:

Carol L. Skolnick said...

What, no Duke Ellington backing Mae West in Belle of the 90s?!?!!! (Hint, it's on YouTube.)

paul etcheverry said...

Think I'll save that for a Mae West blog entry.

The mere thought of Mae West, Duke Ellington and His Orchestra and Leo McCarey collaborating boggles the mind.