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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. (more…)
With the passing away of Toots Thielemans on August 22, it seems appropriate to start our series “Interpreting Ellington” with Thieleman’s interpretations of Sophisticated Lady given together with Jaco Pastorius.
The first occasion they played together was apparently the Berliner Jazztage in November 1979. At a a press conference, Pastorius was asked who of the musicians at the festival he foremost would like to play with. And his answer was Toots Thielemans.
So they performed “Sophisticated Lady” together. It is not the most common interpretation of the song but it shows how creative musicians can find new angles into Ellington’s music.
Three years later they played “Sophisticated Lady” together again – this time. It is interesting to compare the two versions. Pastorius seems to take a more dominant role in the second one.