Andrei Strizek

Music | Musings

Filtering by Tag: Duke Ellington

My Real Book Still Works

I'm proud to report that, even though it was a little dusty, my Real Book still functions properly. I won't go so far as to say it's aged like a fine wine - the missing table of contents and back pages would say otherwise - but it's still functional. I got it at Birch Creek Jazz Camp when I was in 11th grade (and somehow I've acquired both a Bb and bass clef version over the years, in what will probably go down as one of life's great mysteries) and put it to a lot of good use, but I haven't had much reason to use it lately.

But I brought it out for I had a gig two weeks ago at Krannert Center with two fine singers. We played for a wine tasting, and centered our musical presentation around showtunes. I played some solo tunes, and one of those - clearly not a showtune - was Fleurette Africaine by Duke Ellington:

I hadn't played this piece in public in a very long time, probably since my busy gigging days of late high school and early college. I love it, and while my rendition isn't as great as Vijay Iyer's (that goes without saying), I'm still happy with it.

Thanks for watching and listening!

Single Petal of a Rose

Single Petal of a Rose, by Duke Ellington:

Single Petal of a Rose was written by Duke Ellington as part of his Queen's Suite in the late 1950s. Recorded in 1959, only one was copy was pressed, and given to Queen Elizabeth II. The recording was later released to the general public. (If I'm not mistaken, it was released after Ellington's death, but I can't find any confirmation on that.)

This was originally a duet for piano and bass, but is often played by a solo pianist. (The bass part adds to the overall piece, but is basically sustained notes during the two louder sections, with the flourishes in the right hand.)

I first played this piece as a freshman in college - November of 1999, on my first collegiate jazz concert. It was sort of a test piece my jazz band director, Robert Baca, gave to his pianists. I fell in love with it almost immediately (the great feedback from my first performance of it didn't hurt, either!). And while I love Duke, his music, his band, and his playing, my personal favorite recording of this piece is that done by Sir Roland Hanna:

I wanted to make a video of this for a long time (for both my mother, and at the request of one of my former students). I got a little time in one of the classrooms on campus tonight (and last night - hence my Shostakovich video), so voila!

Once again, thanks for listening!

Musical Advent Calendar, Day 19: Nutcracker Overture

My Mission: One holiday-themed, non-carol song every day between now & Christmas. It's my own version of an Advent calendar. I may succeed, I may fail, but there will at least be some good music posted ... music you won't hear at the mall, that hopefully won't make you end up looking like him. ----->

(via 19th: Overture to Nutcracker Suite, arr. Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhorn. (Often heard and seen this time of year, this arrangement of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite ranks among my favorite of any "crossover" [for lack of better term] albums. It's such typical Ellingtonia: a great Paul Gonsalves tenor solo, Harry Carney's great bari sound, and a deep-rooted swing. There's a good video of Jazz at Lincoln Center performing it, too.)

(You can see previous songs here. Email me or comment below if you have a tune suggestion!)

"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 Arrangements page, under the Jazz Transcriptions heading. (Or you can view the PDF here.) The arrangement is credited as being done by Duke Ellington, but was most likely arranged by Clark Terry & Jimmy Hamilton. (Read more at
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