From Calloway to Mulligan
Charlie Barnet Boyd Raeburn Gerry Mulligan
Count Basie Cab Calloway Jimmie Lunceford
Nobody really knows how many songs Duke Ellington wrote during his long career as a song writer, and many of them were only performed by himself or his orchestra. Quite a few, however, became ever-greens and many others were appreciated as jazz standards which were favoured by other orchestras.
Charlie Barnet was probably the one band-leader that had the largest number of Ellington’s compositions in his book and he also was a good friend of Duke’s. He didn’t try to copy Duke’s arrangements, instead he made his own typical interpretation of his songs. Above, you can click to listen to his recording of Black Beauty, an early Ellington composition, played by one of Charlie Barnet’s last bands from 1967. In the Goodies Room you’ll find more music by other bands.One of the earliest recordings of Mood Indigo was made by Cab Calloway in 1931, only a year after Duke had introduced it on record himself. Duke and Cab were both connected with the famous Cotton Club and according to information, Duke had a stake in the Calloway band, which now was starting on its way towards great popularity, succedeed him at the Cotton Club in 1931.
Next, we play two numbers by Jimmie Lunceford orchestra from 1934, Sophisticated Lady and Black And Tan Fantasy. The Lunceford band had already been established as a ”swinging” band for some time. Willie Smith, who was the arranger of both tunes, is heard as soloist on clarinet on Sophisticated Lady together with Eddie Wilcox on piano, while the the solos on Black And Tan Fantasy are by Sy Oliver (tp), Willie Smith (cl), Eddie Tompkins (tp), Joe Thomas (ts) and Tommy Stevenson (tp).
Charlie Barnet and his orchestra play Lament For A Lost Love, (AKA Solace), which was co-composed and recorded by Duke and Barney Bigard back in 1937.This is the 1939 version of the Barnet band, whereas Black Beauty is from 1967.
In 1959, Ellington wrote the music for the film ”Anatomy Of A Murder” starring a. o. Lee Remick and James Stewart. One theme from the main title Anatomy Of A Murder, was later equipped with lyrics by singer Peggy Lee and named I’m Gonna Go Fishin’. She recorded it, but the best-known recording was the one made by Gerry Mulligan’s Concert Jazz Band in 1960 which you’ll be able to listen to here.
I Didn’t Know About You (AKA Sentimental Lady) is next, this time played by Boyd Rayburn and his orchestra. This band was at the time counted among the so called ”progressive” orchestras, like Stan Kenton’s and Claude Thornhill’s . Rayburn’s band had an outstanding alto player named Johnny Bothwell who unfortunately had a very short career. He was sometimes referred to as ”the white Johnny Hodges” and when you have heard this recording you’ll understand why.
Count Basie and his orchestra from 1958 get the last word with In A Mellotone and neither the orchestra nor the tune should need any further comments.