Duke Ellington: Tootin' Through the Roof (1939)


Tootin' Through the Roof (1939)


Duke Ellington (piano)


The Duke: The Columbia Years 1927-1962 (Columbia/Legacy)

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Duke Ellington (piano), Rex Stewart (cornet), Cootie Williams (trumpet), Lawrence Brown (trombone), Johnny Hodges (alto sax),

Wallace Jones, Harold Baker (trumpets), Joe Nanton, Juan Tizol (trombones), Barney Bigard (clarinet, tenor sax), Otto Hardwick (alto sax), Harry Carney (baritone sax), Freddie Guy (guitar), Jimmy Blanton (bass), Sonny Greer (drums)


Composed by Duke Ellington


Recorded: New York, October 14, 1939


Rating: 92/100 (learn more)

For Duke Ellington and His Famous Orchestra, 1939 was a transitional year. Billy Strayhorn and Jimmy Blanton came on board, setting the stage for the classic recordings that began in 1940 when Ben Webster also joined the band selections that included "Jack the Bear," "Ko-Ko," and "Concerto for Cootie." In 1939, Ellington was still largely focused on capitalizing on the flourishing swing craze, with varying degrees of originality or artistry. Then again, Duke always mixed the commercial numbers with his more ambitious works; after all, he and his band members needed to make a living.

"Tootin' Through the Roof" is an exciting example of Duke giving the listening public what they most wanted to hear. The catchy riff theme is enhanced by the interweaving of brash trumpet outbursts and velvety saxophone lines. Johnny Hodges and Lawrence Brown play brief but attention-grabbing solos before Rex Stewart and Cootie Williams take center stage. Their intricate melodic exchanges, with Stewart primarily in the lead, culminate in a bracing high-note coda. "Concerto for Cootie" it's not, but "Tootin' Through the Roof" entertains from start to finish.

Reviewer: Scott Albin

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