Duke Ellington: Flamingo




Duke Ellington


Ebony Rhapsody: The Great Ellington Vocalists (RCA 63863)

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Herb Jeffries (vocals), Rex Stewart (cornet), Wallace Jones (cornet), Ray Nance (cornet), Joe "Tricky Sam" Nanton (trombone), Lawrence Brown (trombone), Juan Tizol (trombone), Otto Hardwick (clarinet, alto sax), Johnny Hodges (alto sax), Barney Bigard (clarinet), Ben Webster (tenor sax), Harry Carney (baritone sax), Billy Strayhorn (piano), Jimmy Blanton (bass), Sonny Greer (drums).

Arranged by Billy Strayhorn. Composed by Edmund Anderson & Ted Grouya


Recorded: December 28, 1940


Rating: 94/100 (learn more)

In 1940, the star of such Westerns with a black hero as Bronze Buckaroo (1938) and Harlem Rides the Range (1939) became the hippest singing cowboy ever by joining Duke Ellington and charting with "Flamingo." Herb Jeffries was a far yodel from Gene Autry. For rounding up lonesome dogies, Autry's hayseed tenor was fine. But Herb's manly baritone rounded up more doggone ladies than would fit in the O.K. Corral. (Not that ladies should be kept in a corral, mind you. It's just a figure of speech.) Apart from short solos by trombonist Brown and altoist Hodges, this track belongs to Jeffries—and to Billy Strayhorn, whose vibrant orchestration befits one of the world's most colorful birds.

Reviewer: Alan Kurtz

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