Duke Ellington with Ella Fitzgerald: Imagine My Frustration


Imagine My Frustration


Duke Ellington & His Orchestra, featuring Ella Fitzgerald


Ella Fitzgerald Duke Ellington: The Stockholm Concert, 1966

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Duke Ellington (piano), Ella Fitzgerald (vocals), Cootie Williams (trumpet), Herbie Jones (trumpet), Cat Anderson (trumpet), Mercer Ellington (trumpet), Lawrence Brown (trombone), Buster Cooper (trombone), Chuck Connors (trombone), Johnny Hodges (alto sax), Russell Procope (clarinet), Jimmy Hamilton (clarinet), Paul Gonsalves (tenor sax), Harry Carney (baritone sax), Sam Woodyard (drums),

John Lamb (bass)


Composed by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn


Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

The appearances together in 1966-67 of Ella with the Duke Ellington Orchestra quickly assumed almost legendary proportions. What was remarkable about her performances with Ellington’s band is the way she commanded the complete respect of Ellington’s often laid-back sidemen. Even on CD, you can sense the electricity in the air as Ella comes onstage, and they respond with a superb performance. “Imagine My Frustration” was the opening song of this Stockholm concert, and from the start Ella truly wails in this passionate and powerful performance. It’s another example of how she responded to the live situation: with Duke’s driving ostinato in the background and the band taking flight, Ella’s adrenaline level soars, and with it the listener’s. Singing at a volume to compete with the band – something like that would never happen in the controlled environment of the studios – this is a shouting, roaring performance as she takes on, and becomes part of, the Ellington instrument. As Norman Granz somewhat understatedly points out in the liner notes, “I especially call your attention to how hard Ella could swing when she puts her mind to it.”

Reviewer: Stuart Nicholson

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Related Links

The Legacy of Ella Fitzgerald by Ted Gioia
The Dozens: Twelve Essential Ella Fitzgerald Performances by Stuart Nicholson
”Ella Fitzgerald” by Stuart Nicholson (from The Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians)


  • 1 Todd S. Jenkins // Jul 30, 2008 at 06:18 PM
    This is a marvelous performance indeed. I had the privilege of talking with Gerald Wilson about "Imagine My Frustration" last week. Gerald said that Duke had approached him in 1965 for some new material for a tour he would be doing with Ella. All Gerald had on hand at the time was a little rock-and-roll tune he had been experimenting with. Duke said he liked it, but asked if he could have Billy Strayhorn write some new lyrics for it. Gerald gave his blessing and forgot about it. Several months later Gerald was listening to the radio and recognized his tune, which Strayhorn had transmogrified into the wallflower tale "Imagine My Frustration". At least Gerald finally got co-writer credit for the song, unlike several other things he had contributed to the Ellington songbook over the years.
  • 2 Paul P. Pinklebottom // Feb 24, 2009 at 11:27 PM
    I had the privlege of actually attending this concert when I was touring Europe one year. I believe the description above is quite accurate in saying that Ms. Fitzgerald wailed. I mean, it was like a competition between Fitzgerald, Ellington, and the band to see who could go the highest. It was a truly amazing experience that I will never forget. If you ask anyone else who attended that night, I'll bet that you'll get answers similar to that.