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Duke Ellington and His Orchestra

Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington is one of the most influential figures in jazz. He composed over 3000 songs over his lifetime, some of which would go on to define the swing era. The “Duke Ellington Sound” is unmistakable, and that can largely be attributed to the diverse talents of his bandmates. In Episode 5 of “Listening with Leckrone,” we put a spotlight on some of those players. These folks, such as Bubber Miley, Tricky Sam Nanton, and Johnny Hodges, not only helped Duke find success, but their unique playing also cemented themselves as jazz legends.

In this episode, we hear an excerpt of “Braggin’ in Brass,” an Ellington composition that showcased his band’s virtuosity. If you want to see what these intricate passages look like, check out this video of Jazz at Lincoln Center performing “Braggin’ in Brass.” Keep an eye out on the trombone section to catch the intricate 16th-note trading passage. I also quite enjoy watching the other folks on stage listen in awe.

Mike also discusses the iconic performance at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1958, often described as “the greatest performance of Ellington’s career.” While there’s no video footage of this performance that I could find, here is a performance of the same tunes, with another feature by Paul Gonsalves. 

A transcript of this episode can be found here.

Check out the companion playlist for this episode on Spotify.

Song List:

“A Spoonful of Sugar;” Performed by Duke Ellington Orchestra; Written by Robert B. Sherman & Richard M. Sherman;  Atlantic Records, 1976

“Black and Tan Fantasy;” Performed by Duke Ellington and His Orchestra; Written by Duke Ellington & Bubber Miley; RCA Victor, 1927

“East St. Louis Toodle-Oo;” Performed by Duke Ellington & His Washingtonians; Written by Duke Ellington; Columbia Records, 1927

“Creole Love Call;” Performed by Duke Ellington Orchestra & Adelaide Hall; Written by Duke Ellington; 1927

“Creole Love Call;” Performed by Duke Ellington and His Orchestra; Written by Duke Ellington; 1932

“It Don’t Mean a Thing (If it Ain’t Got That Swing);” Performed by Duke Ellington and His Famous Orchestra; Written by Duke Ellington and Irving Mills; 1932

“The New Black and Tan Fantasy;” Performed by Duke Ellington and His Orchestra; Written by Duke Ellington and Bubber Miley; 1938

“Caravan;” Performed by Duke Ellington and His Orchestra; Written by Duke Ellington & Juan Tizol; 1937

“Never No Lament;” Performed by Duke Ellington and His Famous Orchestra; Written by Duke Ellington; BMG Music, 1940

“Rose of the Rio Grande;” Performed by Duke Ellington and His Famous Orchestra with Ivie Anderson; Written by E. Leslie, R. Gorman, & H. Warren; 1938

“Braggin’ in Brass;” Performed by Duke Ellington and His Famous Orchestra; Written by Duke Ellington; 1938

“Come Sunday;” Performed by Duke Ellington and His Orchestra; Written by Duke Ellington; RCA Victor 1946

“Diminuedo and Crescendo in Blue;” Performed by the Duke Ellington Orchestra; Written by Duke Ellington; 1937 

“Take the A Train;” Performed by the Duke Ellington Orchestra; Written by Billy Strayhorn; Victor Records, 1941

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