Bringing alive the music of Duke Ellington

Transcriptions by Michael Kilpatrick

Johnny Hodges returned to the fold in the autum of 1955. This began the period in which he and Procope, Carney, Hamilton and Gonsalves played together as a section for a more or less unbroken 13 years until the exit of Jimmy Hamilton. After the fortunes of the orchestra were miraculously revived by an outstanding performance at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1956, Ellington and Strayhorn worked on a number of the orchestra's well-known suites such as Such Sweet Thunder and The Nutcracker Suite.

Duke Ellington recorded prolifically throughout this period, adding to the vast stockpile of material, much of which was not released until after his death. In the mid 1960s Ellington signed up with Sinatra's label Reprise and recorded some wonderful material based predominantly on others' compositions as well as his own Afro-Bossa and a collection of tunes from the musical Mary Poppins. Ellington even paid homage to The Beatles by recording arrangements of two of their works!