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


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.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Harlem World Magazine, 2521 1/2 west 42nd street, Los Angeles, CA, 90008, https://www.harlemworldmagazine.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Here’s the recording:

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



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Articles


AARP Local