Andrei Strizek

Music | Musings

"Perdido" Transcription

I spent a little time the other day transcribing the head of a version of Perdido, not for any specific reason other than I've liked this version for a long time and I wanted the challenge. It's posted on my Transcriptions page. The arrangement is credited as being done by Duke Ellington, but was most likely arranged by Clark Terry & Jimmy Hamilton.

When Clark Terry joined the Ellington band in the mid-50s, Perdido became his feature tune. There's a great studio recording of it on Festival Session (and that chart is available through Jazz at Lincoln Center).

The version I transcribed is from The Cosmic Scene, reissued by Mosaic Records in 2006, and doesn't feature the original head. Instead it gets a boppish treatment, and though the featured soloist is Jimmy Hamilton, the tune has Clark Terry's signature all over it. In typically Ellington fashion, Perdido was reworked over the years, and used to feature different soloists. It was also a feature for tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves (the version from The Great Paris Concert, on which Gonsalves solos, features 32 bars of the version from The Cosmic Scene), and was a perennial crowd-pleaser.

The Cosmic Scene was not recorded with Ellington's full band. It was a nonet: rhythm section, trombone section, and three of Ellington's (and mine) favorite soloists: Clark Terry, flugelhorn; Jimmy Hamilton, clarinet; Paul Gonsalves, tenor saxophone; Quentin Jackson, John Sanders, Britt Woodman, trombone; Duke Ellington, piano; Jimmy Woode, bass; Sam Woodyard, drums.

The album was recorded in 1958, and remains a little-known gem in the Ellington discography. In addition to Perdido, Gonsalves is featured on Body & Soul, and there are good arrangements of St.Louis Blues and Take the "A" Train.

As always, if you notice any mistakes, please let me know by commenting below or emailing me.

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