[JPL] Caravan

Doug Crane dcrane at comcast.net
Sun Apr 30 20:34:08 EDT 2006

At 05:21 PM 4/30/2006, you wrote:

>Arturo, my friend...
>First, please stand corrected.  Caravan was composed in 1937 by
>Juan Tizol AND Duke Ellington.  The lyrics, ostensibly written
>by Irving Mills, Duke's booking agent, were added in 1940.
>The song produced two big hit records; the first by the incredible
>vocalist, Billy Eckstine on MGM in 1949, and the second, an
>instrumental version by the Ralph Marterie band on Mercury
>in 1953.
>Warm regards,  Dick LaPalm


The first big hit was by Billy Eckstine?  I think not.  The Ellington 
orchestra version of Caravan charted as high as #4 in 1937, the 
Barney Bigard-led small group session described below charted as high 
as #20.  Were they million sellers like Eckstine's recording in 
1949?  Probably not. But they were hit records nonetheless.

Helen Oakley Dance, the producer of the Elllington small group 
recordings on Irving Mills' Variety label in the late 1930's, wrote 
some wonderful liner notes for the 1991 and 1992 re-issues entitled 
respectively "The Duke's Men: Small Groups Vol. 1" and  "The Duke's 
Men: Small Groups Vol. 2".  Besides discussing how Irving Mills 
managed to justify his inclusion in the songwriting credits for 
Ellington compositions of the time, she talks about how the success 
of "Caravan" as recorded by Barney Bigard and his Syncopators in 
December 1936 ensured the continuation of the small group 
sessions.  She goes on to say that "Caravan" managed to outsell 
Raymond Scott's "Twilight in Turkey" which was recorded for Mills' 
other label known as Master.  And further, she didn't much care for 
the exotic motif of "Caravan".

As to the songwriting credits, John Edward Hasse, in his book "Beyond 
Category: the Life and Genius of Duke Ellington" credits both 
Ellington and Tizol in his discussion of "Caravan".  There's no 
discussion of lyrics thus no mention of Irving Mills.  And I'm not 
about to enter into any further debate about that issue.  But, 
Arturo, if it means I have to agree with you to keep my airshift, 
then you are absolutely 100% correct!

Thus endeth my petty corrections for April 30, 2006.  Let the further 
petty corrections begin...

Doug Crane
dcrane at comcast.net
Volunteer Jazz DJ
KUVO Denver 89.3 FM
Wednesdays 7-9 PM MDT 

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