Duke Ellington (featuring Joe "Tricky Sam" Nanton): It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing


It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing


Duke Ellington & His Orchestra


The Duke Ellington Carnegie Hall Concerts, December 1944 (Prestige 24073)

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Duke Ellington (piano, composer), Shelton Hemphill (trumpet), Rex Stewart (cornet), Taft Jordan (trumpet), Cat Anderson (trumpet), Ray Nance (trumpet, violin, vocal), Joe "Tricky Sam" Nanton (trombone), Claude Jones (trombone), Lawrence Brown (trombone), Johnny Hodges (alto sax), Otto Hardwick (alto sax), Jimmy Hamilton (clarinet, tenor sax), Al Sears (tenor sax), Harry Carney (baritone sax), Fred Guy (guitar), Junior Raglin (bass), Hillard Brown (drums).

Composed by Duke Ellington & Irving Mills


Recorded: Carnegie Hall, New York, December 19, 1944


Rating: 96/100 (learn more)

This rendition of "It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing" from the band's 1944 Carnegie Hall concert, is an updated version of the original 1932 recording. Despite the differences--Ray Nance taking the vocal chorus out front, the high-energy tenor solo from Al Sears and subsequent shout chorus-- the plunger mute work of trombonist Tricky Sam Nanton is what makes this track soar. His signature sound is the "ya ya" effect, but here he shows his musical growth beyond that plunger trick. He alternates between high-pitched, closed-plunger riffs and "ya ya" phrases as if having a musical conversation with himself. He also demonstrates a prodigious command of his upper register, which he uses for melodic contrast. Few musicians have been able to achieve the range of timbre in a single solo that Nanton does here. Sears starts his solo with a sense of understatement that provides excellent contrast before building it up into the climactic final shout section.

Reviewer: Alex W. Rodriguez

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