This week on Afterglow we’ll feature selections from a new collection of Duke Ellington’s late-1930s small-group recordings.
Ellington had started out as a small-group leader in the 1920s, and had done such recordings on an occasional basis before beginning this series in 1936, partly in an effort to reach out to the jukebox trade. For these sessions he drew on orchestra members such as trumpeters Cootie Williams and Rex Stewart, Barney Bigard, and alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges. Sometimes the sessions were used as a way of testing numbers before being introduced into the larger Ellington band.
We’ll hear some Ducal classics such as “Echoes of Harlem” and “I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart” as well as lesser-known songs like “Lost in Meditation,” “Clouds in My Heart,” and “Night Song.”
Other artists featured on the program include alto saxophonist Jackie McLean, vocalist Betty Carter, pianist Oscar Peterson, and composer David Baker.