Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Too Pretty To Be Blue

"Of his many European tours, the most successful ever undertaken by Duke Ellington began early in 1963 during the worst winter in a hundred years. Foot-stamping queues, packed, enthusiastic houses and newspaper superlatives were the rule, and a crowded itinerary was somehow fulfilled as Duke and his men flew in and out of frozen airfields. Duke also found time to realise a long-standing ambition; to record those of his extended works which had been orchestrated for his own band and symphony orchestra"

"Duke Ellington arrived in Milan early one February morning to discover that the musicians of the La Scala Orchestra would be available to him for only two hours at 5pm. He had to write something that would not need much rehearsal and would take as little time as possible to record. He picked up his pencil at 10am and wrote this piece"

[from the LP sleeve notes by Stanley Dance]

In the unlikely event that there is a Heaven, and in the even unlikelier event that they will let me in it, this will be playing there.

Duke Ellington & His Orchestra - 'La Scala, She Too Pretty To Be Blue' (1963)


  1. Stairway To Heaven was playing on my radio when I downloaded this and pressed 'play'. I turned the radio off and floated up to the pearly gates to peer inside for 5 minutes.

  2. Ah, the Duke -- born in 2129 Ward Place, NW in Washington, D.C.

    (...thanks Wiki!)

  3. Dickie, I only ever float up there for short visits too. Most times I hang out at the little bar opposite. You could say it's full of losers; me, I count them as my optimistic friends.

    I'm wondering Jon if 2129 Ward Place is still there? And if anything is 'commemorative'??

  4. I shall have to pass by and report back...

    But that said, there are any number of commemorations for the Duke in and about my neighborhood. I live rather close to the U Street corridor--which, in its cultural heyday, was known as the "Black Broadway."


    Note the image top right...

  5. Do you know, this is so reminiscent of late period Duke's grandiose soundtrack to Anatomy Of A Murder. Blues and grime lurking beneath the silky veneer, and, as ever, peerless playing to match immortal melodies.
    Class act.


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