Duke Ellington: Happy-Go-Lucky Local


Happy-Go-Lucky Local


Duke Ellington (piano, composer)


Complete Musicraft Recordings (Fresh Sounds 11215)

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Duke Ellington (piano, composer), Cat Anderson (trumpet), Taft Jordan (trumpet), Harold 'Shorty' Baker (trumpet), Shelton Hemphill (trumpet), Ray Nance (trumpet), Lawrence Brown (trombone), Claude Jones (trombone), Wilbur DeParis (trombone), Johnny Hodges (alto sax), Russell Procope (clarinet, alto sax), Jimmy Hamilton (clarinet, tenor sax), Harry Carney (baritone sax), Oscar Pettiford (bass), Sonny Greer (drums).

Composed by Duke Ellington


Recorded: New York City, November 25, 1946


Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

Duke Ellington’s “Happy-Go-Lucky Local” was originally the final movement of his Deep South Suite premiered at his 1946 Carnegie Hall concert. A completely different concept than “Daybreak Express,” “Happy-Go-Lucky Local” runs twice as long and has about a third of the writing as its predecessor. Yet this composition stayed in the Ellington book for years and there are several live recordings available. The present version was recorded shortly after the premiere and issued on a 2-part 78. Unlike “Daybreak Express,” which seemed in a hurry to get to its destination, “Happy-Go-Lucky Local” soulfully lopes along. The principal soloists are Russell Procope on alto sax, Ray Nance (I think) on trumpet and Oscar Pettiford on bass, with shorter spots for Harry Carney on baritone sax and Jimmy Hamilton on clarinet. Pettiford is the real solo star with several spots sounding similar to the Ellington/Jimmie Blanton duets from a few years earlier. The written parts fit together exceptionally well, and Ellington artfully combines the themes, mixing new material with music we heard 2½ minutes before. When the “Night Train” theme shows up in part 2, it seems the most natural development of what we’ve already heard. For the finale, Ellington brings out the newest addition to his band, high-note trumpet specialist Cat Anderson. While Anderson’s playing is part of the Ellington sound as we now know it, imagine how it must have been to hear it for the first time in 1946!

Reviewer: Thomas Cunniffe

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