Wednesday, November 1

Secret Music: On Duke Ellington’s The Queen’s Suite.


Ella, by Max Ferguson, 1989
"The first time I heard The Queen’s Suite, I was at work, listening to a collection of piano music to drown out the sounds of the office. I hadn’t been paying particular attention to the music until a solo piano—Duke Ellington—began to play a phrase, a single figure of just a few lilting notes, repeated slowly at first, then more quickly, finally building into a kind of berceuse. The song, 'The Single Petal of a Rose,' was among the most beautiful and personal melodies Ellington ever wrote. It was the centerpiece of The Queen’s Suite, six songs he and his collaborator Billy Strayhorn composed for Queen Elizabeth II in 1958. Five of the six songs represent different musical landscapes—a grove full of fireflies, or a mockingbird singing at sunset—seen by Ellington in his travels around the world. ..."
Laphams Quarterly (Audio)
W - The Ellington Suites
YouTube: Duke Ellington: Queen's Suite Sunset and the Mocking Bird; Lightening Bugs and Frogs; Le Sucrier Velours; Northern Lights; The Single Petal of a Rose; Apes and Peacocks. Recorded April 4, 1959

2011 November: Duke Ellington - "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)", 1943, 2011 September: "Take the A Train" - Duke Ellington, 2013 May: Duke Ellington’s Symphony in Black, Starring a 19-Year-old Billie Holiday, 2015 January: Home Movies of Duke Ellington Playing Baseball (And How Baseball Coined the Word “Jazz”)