Duke Ellington (featuring Bubber Miley): The Mooche


The Mooche


Duke Ellington & His Orchestra


The OKeh Ellington (Columbia 46177)

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Duke Ellington (piano), Bubber Miley (trumpet), Arthur Whetsol (trumpet), Joe "Tricky Sam" Nanton (trombone), Johnny Hodges (reeds), Harry Carney (reeds), Barney Bigard (reeds), Fred Guy (banjo), Lonnie Johnson (guitar), Wellman Braud (bass), Sonny Greer (drums), Baby Cox (vocals).

Composed by Duke Ellington and Irving Mills


Recorded: October 1, 1928


Rating: 96/100 (learn more)

Duke Ellington once described Bubber Miley as "the epitome of soul and a master of the plunger mute." In time, Miley's alcohol abuse and unreliability would lead to his departure from the Ellington band, and he was dead from tuberculosis before his thirtieth birthday. But no one, apart from Duke himself, did more than Miley to shape the early Ellington sound. His incomparable mute work helped transform "The Mooche," "East St. Louis Toodle-oo" and "Black and Tan Fantasy" into classic statements of the jazz idiom. In an era in which jazz was increasingly focusing on virtuoso soloists, Miley remained true to King Oliver's philosophy that emphasized the quality of sound rather than the multiplicity of notes. With his arsenal of bends, moans, whimpers and growls, Miley could turn even the simplest melody into a deeply personal statement. Ellington, who always knew how to write to his band members' strengths, contributes one of his finest compositions of the decade.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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