C Jam Blues

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Jam session

C Jam Blues is a jazz standard published by Duke Ellington in 1942 . As the title suggests, this is a (twelve-measure) blues that is held in C major and over which a jam of the band soloists takes place. In the last years of his life, Ellington always opened his concerts with this piece, which also warmed up the band.

Structure of the piece

The basic motif of the composition actually consists only of a simple rhythm figure on the note G, which is completed by a fourth jump up to C and probably developed from a riff by Barney Bigard . Due to the underlying blues scheme , this G has a different meaning at each level. Billy Strayhorn built a kind of “barb” into the arrangement : “Each solo begins with an [additional] 4-bar break that does not count towards the chorus ,” so that each solo begins with 16 bars and then any further choruses of the soloist, each with twelve bars.

First recording

The first recording was made by a small piece of information from the Duke Ellington Orchestra under the name of Barney Bigard in 1941 (at that time the piece was still called "C Blues"). Ellington's first big band recording followed in January 1942 for RCA Victor . According to Hans-Jürgen Schaal , Ellington has recorded at least three versions of the title that are “extremely worth listening to”: A piano duo (plus bass) with Billy Strayhorn, a big band version from 1962 in which Paul Gonsalves was featured as the sole soloist, and a recording with one singing Louis Armstrong from 1961.

Impact history

Bigard left the Ellington Orchestra in 1942 and tried the piece in other bands in which he played; in particular, Louis Armstrong's All-Stars, to whom he belonged since 1947, played the piece regularly. Other members of the Elligton Orchestra such as Johnny Hodges , Cat Anderson , Clark Terry and Harold Ashby played the C Jam Blues on their own records. “The loose swing number” was continued by numerous pianists such as Meade Lux Lewis , Earl Hines , Nat King Cole , Oscar Peterson , Kenny Barron and Michel Petrucciani . Also, Slam Stewart , Django Reinhardt , Dave McKenna and Dave Grusin helped that the C Jam Blues became a jazz standard. In 1997, Matthew Shipp even wrote a thirteen - minute " free jazz fantasy" on the subject.

Version with text

Ellington later wrote, supported by Bob Thiele, a text for the composition which, with the words "Baby, take me down to Duke's Place", translated the basic motif melodically and rhythmically into language and was recorded as Duke's Place first with Louis Armstrong, but then also interpreted by Jackie Paris , Ella Fitzgerald and Leon Thomas .


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c Schaal Jazz-Standards , pp. 85f.
  2. A short music film entitled "Jam Session" was also made in the same year , in which Ellington used the theme to introduce his soloists Ray Nance , Ben Webster , Rex Stewart , Tricky Sam Nanton , Sonny Greer and Bigard.