Duke Ellington: Things Ain't What They Used To Be (1941)
Things Ain't What They Used To Be (1941)
Duke Ellington (piano)
Beyond Category: The Musical Genius of Duke Ellington (Buddha)
Lawrence Brown (trombone), Harry Carney (baritone sax), Jimmy Blanton (bass), Sonny Greer (drums).
Composed by Mercer Ellington.
Recorded: Hollywood, July 3, 1941
Rating: 93/100 (learn more)
This song was written by Duke's son, Mercer, and features the great Johnny Hodges as the lead guy for a small group offshoot from the full Ellington band. The tune eventually became quite popular. The track opens with the distinctive, memorable theme played ravishingly by the full (small group) band. Hodges then does a beautiful bluesy thematic takeoff that deepens the tune's soulful feel, and follows up with additional excellent, deep-felt alto. Duke plays a stylish piano interlude, adding interesting harmonic dimensions and emphases, after which Ray Nance offers sultry trumpet variations and embellishments with superb blues slurs and accents. Soon the full band richly fills out the theme. This is an excellent addition to the Ducal music library, with the genius, gorgeous tone, and style of Johnny Hodges at the forefront.
Reviewer: Dean Alger