Swingin' Crash: The Ellington project

May 2009 Swingin' Crash celebrated its 25th anniversary. A respectable age for an amateur Big Band. Through the years the band has always focussed on keeping alive the tradition of the classic dance- and swingbands from the thirties and forties - the zenith of the swing era -. To accomplish that, the band has nearly all well known songs of almost every big band, white or colored - for segregation was the rule in that period in the US, especially in the southern states - on its repertoire, beside many own compositions.
Despite the segregation and discrimination there was, alongside the interest of whites in their own dance- and swing bands - accompaniment of dance-evenings, theatre-acts and musicals was their main reason of being, their they earned their money - , by a specific group of whites also true interest in the black bands of for instance Jimmy Lunceford, Cab Calloway, Fletcher Henderson, Count Basie, Erskine Hawkins and Chick Webb, but that meant solely playing records or listening to the radio. As a white you didn't mix with negro's at live performances.

One of the few exceptions in some way was the Cotton Club in Harlem: There were black orchestra's playing for an all-white audience. We don't look at Chicago till the start of the thirties, where under patronage of the mafia - including Mayor and Police - anything was possible, forbidden but free flowing alcoholics and mixed visiting of jazz- and dance joints. And of course New Orleans, where before the closure of the Navy port and the segregation-laws of Louisiana in the twenties, the lines between races were not very clear.

But, in New York, the white 'beau monde' could listen to exciting black music in the Cotton Club. Cause for many years Duke Ellington and his band played there, primary accompanying the floorshows and the dancing, but yet.

With thanks to the sly manager Irving Mills, the regular radio broadcasts from the Cotton Club and not in the least his outstanding musicians and a huge bunch of own compositions he became famous. In the early years his songs were often written in cooperation with his soloists (Bubber Miley, Barney Bigard, Juan Tizol, Johnny Hodges), later on with his alter ego Billy Strayhorn. So they developed what was called the "jungle"-style. Special sound effects by the brass players, using all kinds of mutes and "growl". Take in account the Duke's interest in classical European music - especially the French impressionists, you can hear it in his arrangements - and you have the amalgam that created the Ellington-style.

One truly can say that, where Benny Goodman was the focus of white jazzy big band music - in spite of such fantastic bands and/or lasting careers like those of Arti Shaw, Charley Barnet or Woody Herman -, Duke Ellington has become the embodied black big band leader and composer. How fascinating band like Basie, Lunceford, Webb and others were.


As homage to this great of the greatests in his 35th year of death and 110th birth year, Swingin' Crash has decided to offer to themselves, as a 25th birthday present, an Ellington project. A selection of 60 Ellington/Strayhorn compositions, nearly all in a new, but Ellingtonian way arranged by its leader Wik Horn, except "Do nothing till you hear from me" (co-arranged with Frank Wouters), "Rent party blues" (co-arranged with Fred Horn) and  "Cotton tail" (arrangement by Willem van Manen). All the selected songs you find below.

1925
1926
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1957
1961
1964

Jig walk*
Birmingham breakdown
Black and tan fantasy
East St. Louis Toodle-O
Creole love call*
Jubilee stomp
The Mooche
Saratoga swing
Awful sad
Harlem flat blues
Misty mornin'
Old man blues*
Rent party blues
Saterday night function
I'm so in love with you*
Sweet mama
Mood indigo
It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing*
Your love has faded*
Drop me of at Harlem*
Sophisticated lady*
In my solitude*
Delta serenade*
Alabamy home*
Azure
Caravan
In a sentimental mood*
If you were in my place*
I let a song out of my heart
I've got to be a rug cutter*
The jeep is jumping
Lotus blossom
Oh babe, maybe someday*
Something to live for
Boy meets horn
Cottontail
Daydream*
Dusk
In a mellow tone*
Ko-ko
Morning glory
You gave me the gate*
Chelsea bridge
I got it bad and that ain't good*
Take the "A"-train*
C-jam blues
Don't get around much anymore*
Five O' clock drag
Perdido*
Raincheck
Harlem air shaft
Do nothing till you hear from me*
Main stem
I'm beginning to see the light*
Everything but you*
Lush live*
Love you madly*
Satin doll*
Such sweet thunder
Paris blues
Isfahan

Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Bubber Miley
Bubber Miley
Bubber Miley
Duke Ellington
Bubber Miley
Barney Bigard
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Arthur Whetsel & Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Johnny Hodges & Duke Ellington
Barney Bigard & Duke Ellington
Irving Mills/Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Barney Bigard
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Dave Ringle/Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Juan Tizol
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Henry Nemo/Duke Ellington
Johny Hodges & Duke Ellington
Billy Strayhorn
Duke Ellington
Billy Strayhorn
Rex Stewart & Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Billy Strayhorn
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Billy Strayhorn
Paul Webster/Duke Ellington
Billy Strayhorn
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Harold Adamson/Duke Ellington
Juan Tizol
Billy Strayhorn
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Johnny Hodges/ Harry James & Duke Ellington
Don George/Harry James & Duke Ellington
Billy Strayhorn
Luther Henderson Jr./Duke Ellington
Billy Strayhorn & Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Billy Strayhorn & Duke Ellington

* vocal Henny van Dongen / * vocal Coen Gerritse