It seems this blog has a tendency to post honoria ( honoria, as the the plural of honorium, is something like a harmonica, but with a lot more honor and tribute intended) to personal heroes and favorite artists. So let’s cut right to the chase and tip our hats to Edward M. (Duke) Ellington.

Ellington was undoubtedly the great American composer/musician of the 20th century – perhaps the greatest world-wide. His recordings are readily available, and the reader can Google or UTube Duke Ellington easily enough on his or her own (Bumbastories has stayed away from links and hijinxing copyrights thus far). But Ellington and his wonderful orchestra recorded very extensively.

What a sound! Johnny Hodges bending his notes so dreamily into sweetness itself. The horns “tootin’ through the roof”. The poise, the cool of Ellington. It was unmatched.

I played one of my very favorites today: Mood Indigo. So here it is.

Written in 1920 or so by Ellington together with collaborators Barney Bigard, the famous trumpet player, and Irving Miles, Mood Indigo is one of the earlier Ellington standards. I believe Ellington and the band played it every night (and they typically played 50 weeks a year – and that’s over the course of 50 years!). Probably they never grew tired of it, such a wonderful song to play it is.

Generally they opened the song with the melody played by just two horns and a reed – in an exquisite and very rich harmony. Russell Procope always stepped to the microphone on this one. Often the great Harry Carney, the great Jimmy Hamilton stood at the mike. Shorty Baker has some amazing solos on it too …. Check it out.

Hats off to Ellington and the Ellington Orchestra!

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