Ellington Interpretations by Other Artists in the 1920s and 1930s

Bjarne Busk

At a dance date Duke Ellington was asked to play a well-known number from the repertoire of another famous big band. "No," said Duke, "we don’t play that. [You’ve come to the] Wrong band!"

And so it was in the twenties and thirties, as well as later on: the known or ambitious bands strived for their own repertoire, thus defining the band, and keeping a loyal group of followers. Still quite many Duke Ellington compositions and adapted arrangements were played and recorded by other artists in these years. The main reason for that would be that these were just good songs for either dancing or listening. Other reasons could be that bands had to be able to play the hit tunes of the day, in order to keep their audience, there was money to be made if people would buy a band’s recording of a hit tune, and sometimes the band manager or a publishing company would dictate what was to be recorded. And there could be the artistic challenge in playing Ellington’s kind of music.

In the following are listed Duke Ellington compositions recorded by other artists in the 1920s and 1930s. Furthermore there is a list of Ellington compositions played by some other bands, though not recorded by them. Finally there is a list of recorded tributes to Duke Ellington.

This is a work in progress, started in 2004 with the purpose of contributing to the documentation of the music of Duke Ellington, as it was recorded from the beginning of his career until the end of 1939. The work is not complete, nor flawless, and probably never will be. But I think it is getting better all the time, not the least thanks to contributions from experts and collectors from many countries.

This work is can be viewed or downloaded as a webpage, a PDF file , an RTF word processing document.

I hope readers will take the time and effort to write to me about additions and corrections.

Bjarne Busk,
Rønnebærvej 76
DK-2840 Holte

bjarne. busk@privat. dk

2012. 02. 09