From the Record Shelves #139

Creole Rhapsody

LP RCA Camden CAL-459

This classic LP is from an Ellington period 1929-1931 when the trumpet player Bubber Miley, one of the most important members of the band during the Cotton Club era, had left. His replacement Cootie Williams picked up his style of growling and became likewise important from then on. But in this, the prelude of a long line of orchestral suites from the Duke, it’s another trumpet players contribution that moves me. Ellingtons boyhood friend Arthur Whetsol plays a muted solo with a beautiful melody at the end of the first part. Everything in the execution of this difficult piece with many shifts in tempo is in top class. They did also a shorter version for another record company but I prefer this one and think that it’s better recorded. It’s from June 11, 1931.

Duke Ellington tells us:
Irving Mills came to me one day with an original idea. He was always reaching a higher plateau for our music.
– ’Tomorrow is a big day’ he said. We premiere a new long work — a rhapsody.’

– ’Really?’ I replied. ’Okay’.’
So I went out and wrote Creole Rhapsody, and I did so much music for it that we had to cut it up and do two versions.

I listened at dusk time and became fascinated by the piece when I was in my teens.