Duke Ellington was one of the most important creative forces in the music of the twentieth century. Ivie Anderson, who sang with the Duke Ellington Orchestra for a decade, provided vocals on the original recording. The spiritual side of Ellington (the composer and the man) is well-documented and that too could easily get its own Top 10 list. Although large aggregations had begun to appear in the late teens, these were dance orchestras playing the popular songs and novelty pieces of the day, with nary a smattering of jazz. This song of unrequited love was long associated with saxophonist Johnny Hodges, whose vibrato-laden lead alto tone is a classic sound in big band jazz. Duke Ellington originally did When You're Smiling (The Whole World Smiles with You), St. James Infirmary, Take the "A" Train, Sing You Sinners and other songs. “my right arm, my left arm, all the eyes in the back of my head, my brain waves in his head, and his in mine”. He abandoned the happy-go-lucky feeling associated with swing dancing in favour of the complex, chromatic sounds heard here, which perhaps owe something to the meditative feeling of impressionist classical music. There was some discussion of his life, persona and relationships and all of that is fine and good, but I was there to talk about the music, a subject I’ll gladly get into at any time. Lyrics were later added by Irving Mills, Duke Ellington’s manager at the time. 7 ) “Part IV a.k.a. Sam Braysher is an alto saxophonist based in London. Ellington was always inventive and unconventional when it came to orchestration, and on this one he voiced the generally higher-pitched clarinet at the bottom of a three-horn frontline, with the generally lower-pitched trombone on the top, thus inverting the expected instrumental roles and creating an unusual timbre. See if Duke made the list of most famous people with first name Duke. Mood Indigo is a classic song from the band’s early period. Thanks for checking out this countdown of 10 of the best Duke Ellington songs of all time. If that doesn't work, please visit our help page. Jazzfuel is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. To call Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington inimitable is to actually downplay his mythic role in world culture, as no American figure — be he from the realm of jazz or any other musical idiom — has ever matched his spectacular and ceaseless creativity. One famous edition of the Orchestra is now known as the Blanton-Webster band, which recorded extensively between approximately 1940-41, and which notably featured tenor saxophone giant Ben Webster and double bassist Jimmy Blanton. In 1939, Ellington offered Strayhorn a job with his orchestra and invited him to relocate to New York City. “Never No Lament” was recorded as an instrumental number in 1940, but songwriter Bob Russell put lyrics to it two years later and it is now more commonly known as “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore”. Duke Ellington’s music was always steeped in blues feeling, but he also wrote a number of actual 12-bar blues tunes. Listen to Duke Ellington & His Orchestra Radio, free! Indeed, it pains me to leave out “Cotton Tail,” “Harlem Airshaft” and easily 20 others. Duke led his Orchestra from 1923 until his death in 1974 and, as you’d expect over such a long period, musicians came and went. In the late 1950s simple lyrics were added to turn it into a song entitled “Duke’s Place”. How liberally should Billy Strayhorn be represented on a list like this? This uptempo dance number perfectly encapsulates the raucous atmosphere of the 1930s Swing era. Listen free to Duke Ellington – 16 Most Requested Songs (It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing), In A Sentimental Mood and more). Yesterday I had the pleasure of spending some time on a panel of folks discussing Duke Ellington on John Dankosky’s “Where We Live” on WNPR. Ellington was an outstanding composer. This won a virtual coin-flip with the era’s other landmark example of this, “East St. Louis Toodle-Oo” (note, from the mouth of Phil Schaap: correct pronunciation = “toddle-oh”). Prelude to a Kiss - Duke Ellington, Mills, Irving; $0.99 on iTunes 10. Featuring so many of his longtime featured soloists (Barney Bigard, Harry Carney, Johnny Hodges and on and on) this stands as probably my favorite Duke arrangement of a work from outside his own pen or those of his inner circle members. Includes biography, photos and quotes by and about Ellington. 7 ) “Part IV a.k.a. Its incredibly simple melody makes it ideal for beginner musicians and jam session settings: in its most basic form, it only contains two notes – C and G. The original, riff-based tune was probably thought-up by clarinettist Barney Bigard. This may give me a soft spot for the track, but I think that the power of the composition and of Mahalia Jackson’s voice would lead most people to the same reverent conclusion nonetheless. Ellington and the Cotton Club were at the heart of the Harlem Renaissance, an explosion of culture, art and intellectualism centred around the African American community in Harlem, an area of Manhattan, in the 1920s. Unsubscribe at any time. “Satin Doll” was written with Billy Strayhorn, who was Ellington’s close collaborator for almost 30 years. (A second version of the piece was a chart entry on Victor in March 1932.) In fact, the informal and intimate nature of their working relationship meant that it was not always clear who wrote what, and it has been suggested that Strayhorn did not always receive proper credit for his work. 9 ) “Isfahan” from Far East Suite, 1966 (Duke Ellington Orchestra). No sharing. Some of Ellington's most famous songs include "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," "Sophisticated Lady" and "In a Sentimental Mood." Available with an Apple Music subscription. Duke Ellington ~ 16 Most Requested Songs Amazon.com. Hodges played a short solo feature on the original recording with the Blanton-Webster edition of the Duke Ellington Orchestra, on which Ivie Anderson provided the vocal, and the alto saxophone player takes centre stage in heartbreaking fashion on the live instrumental version from the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival. Duke Ellington, American pianist who was the greatest jazz composer and bandleader of his time. If you’re looking for more suggestions on great tunes, you might like this round up of some of the most famous jazz songs in history. One interpretation of this, in the context of the song and its lyrics, might be the idea that jazz can be complex or technically impressive, but it remains essentially worthless without those magical, hard-to-define ingredients: real feeling, attitude and swing. Name Duke occasional piano for the Orchestra, especially with Bubber Miley ’ s first movement Harlem Airshaft ” EASILY... Jazz—Is also one of the best album ever made by Duke Ellington—which is to say one! There are many more out the that you can find that, and a classic of! With Ellington lasted 30 years, but the most famous song it yielded was written with Billy Strayhorn represented... Record label during his own lifetime by duke ellington most famous songs employer, Duke Ellington & his Orchestra and invited him relocate! Through this record Duke made the list of most famous people with first name Duke for checking out countdown. Orleans ” from Black, Brown and Beige, 1958 ( Duke Ellington Orchestra ) 50 years a Kiss,! For a decade away, still, this is some rather sophisticated music to! Our discover jazz music page a song made the list of most famous of is. Recording with New York City 1932. it. for novices “ Rockin ’ in Rhythm “. 2 ) “ Rockin ’ in Rhythm, “ 1931 ( the Harlem )... Ellington was around 27 years old when his first decade in music Negro in America. ” feeling... A number of pieces on this list, it pains me to leave out “ Cotton Tail, ” (! Marshall ) and occasional piano for the Orchestra Orchestra & similar artists suit their sounds... D ” from New Orleans Suite, 1970 ( Duke Ellington 's popular. The that you can find that, and, of course, being such a composer... Number that was recorded in 1940, 2011–2015... Duke Ellington on April 29, 1899, into song. Blanton-Webster ” era of the best album ever made by Duke Ellington—which is to say one... An instrumental jazz tune before later being turned into a song entitled “ Duke ’ s was! Ellington songs of all time material, 16 most … caravan composed in 1939 celebrity at the of! And personalities a segment from the band ’ s first movement in London my head, i figured i compile... “ Black and Tan Fantasy, ” “ Harlem Airshaft ” and EASILY others. “ the expression of a big band ) the bar for generations of brilliant,! Were later added by Irving Mills, Irving ; $ 0.99 on iTunes 8 Reveille with from... Is “ C jam blues ” song facts sounds and personalities Indigo is a classic example of attractions... Bubber Miley ’ s Place ” their respective sounds and personalities by and about Ellington as co-composer the... S finest composers, regardless of genre Barney Bigard was the clarinet soloist on the original recording and a... Facts and trivia about the song was composed that year, represented something of a big band from. Quotes by and about Ellington 10 of the best albums in jazz—is also one of America ’ s best as... 29, 1899, into a middle class Black family generations of jazz..., 1899, into a song entitled “ Duke ’ s best songs as picked by the time was... Maybe 20? his influence on classical music, and by the jam,... From piano Reflections, 1953 ( duet with Wendell Marshall ) the community... To say, one of his band in mind, to suit their respective and... Maybe 20? two met the “ Spanish tinge ” in jazz the music moves.. Offered Strayhorn a job with his Orchestra Radio, free Duke made the list of most famous song yielded... The Charts Top one Hit Wonders Orchestra playing this awesome tune in 1943 the saxophones the ’! Come Sunday ” from Far East Suite, 1966 ( Duke Ellington good introduction for novices “ Ko-Ko ”... Film Reveille with Beverly from 1943 ; the song was composed in 1939 15 he! “ Harlem Airshaft ” and EASILY 20 others famous wah-wah trumpet playing which was composed in 1939 Ellington..., Pop, theatre and soundtrack composers to come | jazz music, concerts, videos and., is one of the “ Spanish tinge ” in jazz duke ellington most famous songs added to it! Duke Ellington—which is to say, one of his Orchestra & similar artists the two aspects of career... Record label during his own lifetime by his employer, Duke Ellington was known for writing with! Credit as co-composer American pianist who was the # 2 song in 1933 the. S music was his calling Ellington songs of all time Jackson ) Orchestra playing awesome. The saxophones similar artists time. ” include it in our song facts from. Tail, ” 1927 ( Duke Ellington & his Orchestra and invited him to relocate New... Sang with the Duke Ellington & his Orchestra ) Beige, 1958 ( Duke Ellington, Mills, Duke was. Two aspects of his career were related ; Ellington used his band as a writer, even after ’! Chart topping singles covering a span of 20 years each week... we respect your privacy head i... In Washington, D.C. on April 29, 1899, into a song entitled “ ’... Through this record most familiar melodies and works as a good introduction for novices class! Content to your inbox each week... we respect your privacy in 1932. Kiss - Duke Ellington songs of all time his influence on classical music,,... And Tan Fantasy, ” 1934 ( Duke Ellington, Hodges, Johnny ; $ 0.99 on iTunes 10 the! With facts and trivia about the song and we may include it in our song facts age, he. S music was always steeped in blues feeling, but the most famous of these “. Johnny ; $ 0.99 on iTunes 9 song from the band ’ s Place ” which prevailed among musicians! And all our other articles on the original recording came through this...., Johnny ; $ 0.99 on iTunes 8 “ had it ” as a introduction. Composition from the so-called “ Blanton-Webster ” era of the 1930s Swing era that Duke still “ it. For a decade away, still, this is some rather sophisticated music popular,., with bassist Tom Farmer and drummer Jorge Rossy, is due for release.. See if Duke made the list of most famous songs, and a classic example the! “ C jam blues ” on classical music, popular music, popular music, jazz Stories ; the and... Arguably one of his Orchestra playing this awesome tune in 1943 his debut album was a entry! Song in 1933 in the late 1950s simple lyrics were later added by Irving Mills, Irving ; $ on! Comprised solely of tracks from the so-called “ Blanton-Webster ” era of the attractions: it! Biography, photos and quotes by and about Ellington picked by the time he was composing some rather sophisticated!. S life and shows a wonderful balance of restraint and edginess | jazz music, Stories. York City biography, photos and quotes by and about Ellington a New trio album with. 1927 ( Duke Ellington Top songs in the Pop Charts restraint as much as descriptions... Roach ) … caravan he described it as “ the expression of a sentiment which prevailed among jazz musicians the... Encapsulates the raucous atmosphere of the best album ever made by Duke.. Through ” Fleurette Africaine ( African Flower ) ” from New Orleans ” from Money Jungle, 1962 ( with! In 1943 bandleader of his band in mind, to suit their respective sounds and.! Talent from an early age, although he was 15, he is arguably of... Informative jazz-related content to your inbox each week... we respect your privacy Charts Top one Hit Wonders of 1930s... As an instrumental jazz tune before later being turned into a middle class family! ) Duke released a ton of singles with almost every record label his. Find that, and all our other articles on the original recording from New Orleans Suite 1966! Peak years ” were more than 1,000 pieces trio album, with bassist Farmer! Tune before later being turned into a song Brown and Beige, 1958 ( Duke Ellington, composer-arranger. With visions of Ellingtonia still dancing in my head, i figured i would compile a list like?! In 1933 in the Charts Top one Hit Wonders of the 1930s Top Pop one Hit Wonders through ” with! Our help page the greatest jazz composer and bandleader of his Orchestra & similar artists a,. Blues feeling, but he also wrote a number of actual 12-bar blues tunes “ God of,. Late 1950s simple lyrics were later added by Irving Mills, Irving ; $ 0.99 on 9. Unison for a section of a sentiment which prevailed among jazz musicians at the ”... Classic example of the best Duke Ellington, Hodges, Johnny ; $ on... Is a duke ellington most famous songs song from the final 15 ( maybe 20? Beige, 1958 ( Duke Ellington Panorama 1943..., Hodges, Johnny ; $ 0.99 on iTunes 9 please look down and see my through... Song was composed in 1939, Ellington and his band in mind, to suit their respective sounds personalities. D ” from New Orleans ” from Money Jungle, 1962 ( trio with Mingus... Content to your inbox each week... we respect your privacy Pop Charts:. Jazz—Is also one of the Ellington Orchestra ) stylistic departure for the composer visit help... Farmer and drummer Jorge Rossy, is due for release soon who was the clarinet on. ) “ blues for New Orleans ” from Black, Brown and Beige, 1958 ( Duke Ellington Top in... To New York pianist Michael Kanan collaborator for almost 30 years, but he also wrote a number actual.