Sunday, April 29, 2018

On Duke Ellington’s birthday,
a random possible discovery

It may be coincidence, but a phrase that Bubber Miley plays and repeats in “Blue Bubbles” (0:36–0:40) sure sounds like the germ of “Good Queen Bess”:

“Blue Bubbles” (Duke Ellington–Bubber Miley). Duke Ellington and His Orchestra: Louis Metcalf, Bubber Miley, trumpets; Joe “Tricky Sam” Nanton, trombone; Harry Carney, Otto Hardwicke, Rudy Jackson, reeds; Ellington, piano; Fred Guy, banjo; Wellman Braud, bass; Sonny Greer, drums. Recorded in New York City, December 19, 1927.

“Good Queen Bess” (Johnny Hodges). Johnny Hodges and His Orchestra: Hodges, alto sax; Harry Carney, baritone sax; Cootie Williams, trumpet; Lawrence Brown, trombone; Duke Ellington, piano; Jimmy Blanton, bass; Sonny Greer, drums. Recorded in Chicago, November 2, 1940.

Miley was still a member of the Ellington band when Hodges joined in 1928. Perhaps the band was still playing “Blue Bubbles” (hardly a crucial part of the Ellington repertoire). Or perhaps Hodges had the record. Or perhaps Miley played this little phrase in other contexts. I would like to imagine that for some reason it stayed with Hodges, to reappear years later.

Related reading
All OCA Ellington posts (Pinboard)

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