Jig Walk was written by Duke Ellington and Jo Trent for the 1925 Chocolate Kiddies revue and the song became sort of a hit.
There are several recordings of the song from the 1920’s. For a long time it was thought that one of them – on a piano roll – was by Ellington himself, and Paramount 14027 (misnumbered 14024), which was said to have been dubbed from the piano roll, became a collectors’ item.
In the mid-90s, the authenticity of the piano roll was questioned and it disappeared from Ellington discographies.
In the DESS Bulletin 2011-1, the discography expert Björn Englund sorted out the whole story behind the supposed Ellington recording of Jig Walk. The full article is available in the Ellington Archive/Artiklar /Jig Walk.
According to him, the piano roll – issued on the QRS label – was recorded by a certain ”Lawrence Cook (1899-1976), the QRS house arranger” in August 1926.
The Chicago jazz historian John Steiner, who owned the roll (and many other Paramount and QRS recordings) and did the dubbing, ”just added drums to the transfer and even a cry of “oops” in the middle of the performance.”
Also according to Björn Englund, there is only one genuine piano recording of the song. It is one by two French pianists, Jean Wiener and Clement Doucet recorded October 25, 1926, and issued on the French Columbia (F) D 13018.
Ipana Troubadours was one of the American bands, which recorded the song. It did so on December 10, 1925.
Others, which also did it, are Okeh Syncopators, Ben Bernie and His Roosevelt Orchestra and Van’s Collegians (with Red Nicolas and Miff Mole). It has been claimed that Ellington played piano on the Okeh Syncopators recording but this is no longer accepted to have been the case. They all recorded the song in 1926..
In Europe, Jig Walk was recorded both by English and German orchestras, among them the Savoy Orphans.
Later in life Ellington actually performed the song on some occasions.
According to NDESOR and other discographies, he did so at Cotton Club on May 22, 1938 and at Hotel Sherman on September 21, 1940. On both occasions, it sounds as if a song very different from the original Jig Walk is played.
In an lengthy article about Jig Walk in the DEMS Bulletin in 2005, the English Ellington expert, Roger Boyes, dug into the issue and explained why this is so.
He says: “This perhaps has to do with the fact that the song is melodically undistinguished and that its defining feature, the Charleston rhythm, is precisely the one which had to be smoothed out to suite late 1930s taste.”
In his analysis, Boyes also points out that 1938 and 1940 versions omit the Verse and says that he agrees “with those who think that these two performances are of a score based …… on bars 26-57, the 32-bar AABA Chorus, of the sheet music printed in Mark Tucker’s book Early Ellington (page128-130)
In his article, Boyes also discuss Ellington’s three performances of the original Jig Walk melody late in life – November 15, 1969, (concert in Geneva), June 18, 1971 (dance date in Paramus) and Oct 20, 1971 (concert in Bournemouth)
In Geneva, it was part of the Medley but ”uniquely, Duke played a single A section of the 32-bar Chorus of the Jig Walk as the audience applauded Harold Ashby’s solo on Just Squeeze Me”, he says.
The performance of ”Jig Walk” at Steak Pit in Paramus, New Jersey is a complete one. Boyes discusses it at length and particularly that ”the first 64 bars turn out to be the first surviving performance we have of A Blue Mural From Two Perspectives.
Roger Boyes’ s full article is available at http://depanorama.net/dems/051f.htm and in the Ellington Archive/Artiklar/Jig Walk.