“Harlem” Duke Ellington’s Masterpiece 1989 – 1993 (Video)

January 30, 2018

We love this great post by Charles Bradley II on Youtube of a rare video from music master Duke Ellington’s beautifully complicated “Harlem,” 1989 – 1993:

From the liner notes by Maurice Peress:

“Harlem” (orchestrated by Luther Henderson and Maurice Peress) was to be part of a group commission by the celebrated conductor, who was not known as a champion of American music.Duke, a master title-giver, described the work as a concerto grosso for jazz band and symphony orchestra. In “Harlem”, we see Ellington as having learned from his “Black, Brown, & Beige” experience. It is one completely integrated movement, the first part of which is held together by the word “Har-lem” (a minor third), intoned by the growl trumpet. The second half is built out of the street funeral dirge (Duke refers to an Elks Band) which begins as an eight-bar blues for three marvelously interwoven clarinets and builds to a climax combining both thematic ideas.

Here are note from Ellington’s “Harlem”:

  1. Pronouncing the word “Harlem,” itemizing its many facets—from downtown to uptown, true and false;
  2. 110th Street, heading north through the Spanish neighborhood;
  3. Intersection further uptown–cats shucking and stiffing;
  4. Upbeat parade;
  5. Jazz spoken in a thousand languages
  6. Floor show;
  7. Girls out of step, but kicking like crazy;
  8. Fanfare for Sunday;
  9. On the way to church;
  10. Church—we’re even represented in Congress by our man of the church;
  11. The sermon;
  12. Funeral;
  13. Counterpoint of tears;
  14. Chic chick;
  15. Stopping traffic;
  16. After church promendade;
  17. Agreement a cappella;
  18. Civil Rights demandments;
  19. March onward and upward;
  20. Summary–contributions coda.

The musicians include Jon Faddis on the trumpet, Bill Easley, the clarinet, Ron Carter on the big bass and Butch Miles the drums.

Here’s the recording:

Via source. Click here to find more recordings from the album.

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