program notes by composition > S > The Symphonic Duke

The Symphonic Duke

Duke Ellington/arr. Tommy Newsom

The Symphonic Duke This medley of songs made popular by the Duke Ellington orchestra during the early twentieth century includes:

Caravan Initially performed by Ellington in 1937, this is variously seen as the first Latin jazz song or as a Mideastern-influenced jazz song.

In a Sentimental Mood Composed by Ellington in 1935

Satin Doll Written in 1953 by Ellington and Billy Strayhorn with lyrics by Johnny Mercer; usually used as as the closing number at concerts.

Mood Indigo Co-written by Ellington for a radio broadcast in 1930.

Take the 'A' Train The title refers to the A subway line that ran from eastern Brooklyn up into Harlem and northern Manhattan, using the express tracks in Manhattan; composed in 1938, after Ellington offered Strayhorn a job in his organization and gave him money to travel from Pittsburgh to New York. Ellington’s written directions for Strayhorn to get to his house by subway began, "Take the A train ..."

Don’t Get Around Much Anymore Music written by Ellington (1942).

Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington (1899-1974) was a bandleader, pianist and composer who became one of the most influential figures in jazz. Raised by musical parents, he was playing for dances at the age of nineteen. In 1927 he brought a twelve-piece band to the Cotton Club in New York and the world of jazz was never the same. Widely honored, Ellington remained a modest man, a tireless composer and popular performer until his death.

Arranger Tommy Newsom (1929-2007) was a saxophone player and substitute musical director in the NBC Orchestra on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson . Nicknamed “Mr. Excitement" for his drab persona behind flamboyant Doc Severinsen, Newsom was often a foil for Carson's humor. He was as well- known within the music industry as an arranger as he was as a performer.

Last updated on March 6, 2020 by Palatine Concert Band