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!


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.