This is your Cranky on Ellington.

Another Cranky inspiration.

Long time member of Cranky’s playlist is Everybody Stomp by the Cotton Club Orchestra (Duke Ellington).

Cranky likes songs that offer much more than appears on the surface. Sort of a, the whole is more than the sum of its parts, but inverted. The parts are more than the whole. So many sections of this tune lend themselves to improvisation that is just ridiculous. Plus, the song is in Cranky’s key of frenetic.

It’s kind of stupid that there is a very strong demarkation for jazz historians of “early Ellington” and the “real Ellington.” Most jazz writers dismiss Ellington’s early career (1920s-30s) because for them the real meat and potatoes are his big band swing era tunes. After all the Duke was indeed critical to the birth of swing.

But in Cranky’s world this is where he started to suck.

In general the small band jazz of the 20s and 30s were proving grounds for musicians inventing and evolving the genre of jazz. Once Swing hit big and became the pop music of its time all the kinetic underground energy of the music had been strangled out of it. (Small experimenting groups actually hung around under the surface, later to emerge as bebop.) Ellington became sadly hackneyed.

1920’s hot jazz is punk where the swing era is pop arena rock.

Cranky the music history critic has spoken.


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