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. 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