The Unknown Works of Duke Ellington

Transcriptions by Michael Kilpatrick
Image of Ellington

Introduction

Welcome to my website dedicated to the discovery of previously unknown and untitled compositions and arrangements by Duke Ellington, the most prolific and influential composer in the history of jazz.

During my many visits to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC I have copied and studied many of the untitled or incomplete scores that are scattered throughout the collection of Duke Ellington's manuscripts archived there. Some manuscripts I have been able to put a title to by comparing to the recordings of the Duke Ellington orchestra, but others remain a mystery. Even though many scholars have studied this vast repository of manuscripts since the Smithsonian acquired the collection, there remain many fragments of score and band parts that may yet be identified with Ellington's known works whereas others, complete or not, may never be identified.

Some of the miscellaneous band parts can be grouped together to form a reasonably complete set, some not. Some of the scores are missing pages of, brief sketches of or preliminary versions of well-known works and are yet to be identified as such. Others are aborted compositions that never made it to rehearsals. Others are complete, unknown pieces, with or without a title, which may or may not have been rehearsed or even performed yet never recorded. Some may be items that were part of Cotton Club shows and were only ever heard within the walls of that famous New York venue. All in all, there is a vast collection of 'new' Ellington compositions and arrangements just begging to be collated and identified!

The aim of this website is to present to the public a 'performance' of much of this new Ellington. Using music notation software and synthesised or sampled instruments of the orchestra the music can be rendered as an MP3 sound file that can easily be downloaded and played on most home computers.

For each music sample I have detailed the instrumentation on the score, as this can help date the music. For example, anything with only two trombones may be dated to before the arrival of Lawrence Brown. Likewise the change from a reed section of three, four or five musicians. Conversely, however, a musician may be resting after or before a solo. A fragment of score showing an ensemble passage with two trombones may not necessarily suggest that Lawrence Brown wasn't yet in the band! The words "Brown rest" may not appear on the score.

Please read on and explore the sound files. The most recent samples are placed the top of the page. This page will be added to constantly!


06/03/2005

MTK-301-467-15-1 - Giddybug Gallop?

As I entered the music on this two page score I began to realise it was very much the same in structure as Giddybug Gallop and even in the same key of Eb-major! The score has at least three sections. The first is labelled A and has three altos providing an organ background for vocal chorus. The next section B is a few bars for the brass ensemble with the indication Slow. There are then 8 bars of a trombone passage which is clearly almost the same as one found in the recording of Giddybug Gallop, although it doesn't seem to follow on directly from B as the harmonies are from the middle of the chorus. On the second page of the score is a section C marked Saxes - slow.

If you study the different sections of this score it is clear that the structure is identical in each if you play those marked slow at half the speed of the others! Not only that, they work perfectly at the recorded tempo of Giddybug Gallop. I have strung the various sections of the score together as one MP3 sample with a few small gaps to separate the different sections. In each case the bass plays a 2-beat rhythm, so you can easily tell which sections are played at half tempo. I have then provided a sample chorus from the score to Giddybug Gallop which I studied and transcribed some time ago.

I don't know much about Jump For Joy, so if you know that Giddybug Gallop was also performed as a vocal number, please let me know. There are some scores and parts in the Smithsonian which suggest there was also an arrangement in G-major, but unfortunately I never looked at those. I do not know if there are other sections of scores in Eb-major that I did not look at either, but if there are, this two-page manuscript may belong with them.

Have a listen to the samples!


05/03/2005

MTK-301-467-22-1

This score is an incomplete work probably from the mid-1930s. It may be a vocal number, since the second half, after the change from Eb-major to Ab-major, is just a saxophone organ background. The first half has some indications for Cooty Williams to solo over the ensemble work. I don't know if this is anything recognisable. I don't think the score was completed. Do you recognise it?

Have a listen to the samples!


04/03/2005

MTK-301-467-5-1

Here we have three pages of a score in Eb-major that to me sounds more recent than it really is. The score appears to be written for the 1930s orchestra containing Arthur Whetsel. The orchestration is rich and in a few places a little curious (my choice of bass notes may be a little wayward), and the chorus seems to have an unusual structure. It appears to an AABA form with a 10-bar A section and 8 bars for the B section. Another example of this is Miss Lucy from 1956. There are a few additional bars at the end of this chorus with indications that it leads to a brass chorus. Perhaps I may find a manuscript to match that?

Have a listen to the samples!


04/03/2005

MTK-415-45-8

This is rather interesting. Anthony Coleman rightly pointed out that this is an orchestrated version of the piano introduction to Delta Serenade. It's pretty much exact in every detail in as much as can be translated from piano to orchestra. What's the story? Did Ellington originally write this for another purpose before taking to the piano as an introduction? Which came first?

Have a listen to the samples!


04/03/2005

MTK-415-45-8

This is a short fragment of score that I'm sure I recognise but just can't place it! It sounds so familiar. Can you identify it for me?

Have a listen to the samples!


03/03/2005

MTK-704-6-21-1

I'm interested in this short section of unfinished score which I found on the back of another fragment of untitled score I have just identified. This other piece, in G-major, probably from 1930 to 1932 or even earlier, seems familiar but I just can't place it! Do you recognise it? It's bugging me...

Have a listen to the samples!


03/03/2005

MTK-415-44-9-1

This fragment of score dates from the early or mid 1940s, being scored for five saxophones. It indicates Johnny Hodges on the melody with backing from the other saxes. Is it something anybody recognises?

Have a listen to the samples!


03/03/2005

MTK-704-16-6-1

This is one of two short fragments of score in the same folder, both on Eb-major. This first short fragment may be the ending of the piece. It appears to be score for only two trombones so presumably is from the early 1930s before Lawrence Brown. It is not familiar to me, but it may well be something I have failed to recognise owing to the lack of any of the melody in this fragment. Do you recognise it?

Have a listen to the samples!


03/03/2005

MTK-704-16-6-2

This is the second of two short fragments of score in the same folder, both on Eb-major, from the early 1930s. I have set both of these fragments at a fast tempo but that may well not be appropriate. There is very little to go on here, so it may be nothing recognisable.

Have a listen to the samples!


03/03/2005

MTK-301-467-3-4

This is a short fragment of an early Ellington score in Eb-major with 8 bars of 4-part harmony for three saxophones and one trumpet. I have guessed it is at a fast tempo. There are so many little fragments of scores in more popular keys such as Eb-major that I'm not going to suggest it is or isn't connected to any of the other items I've put on this page. I don't recognise it. Do you?

Have a listen to the samples!


30/01/2005

Pyramid-1

Here we have the first of two new orchestrations of Pyramid which may not have been studied much, partly because the incomplete set of parts are under a different title - Oriental. Some of the material was used in the 1938 recording, as the listener will clearly be able to tell. However, there is a fair amount of material which I think Ellington never recorded. Having looked further at these parts and the accompanying parts for Pyramid-2, I suspect that this music was written in 1937, not 1938, however, I am not sure whether there should be four trumpets, not three. Only two of the trumpet parts have been located so far. One is for Rex, the other name is illegible. If this set of parts post-dates Pyramid-2, it may well be from when Ellington reverted to using only three trumpets.

The parts for Hodges and Hardwick are missing also, so I have guessed their notes. Unfortunately I have not yet seen a matching score, and I think there is nothing under the title Pyramid other than the score for the later version.

Have a listen to the samples! There may be a few changes from straight to swing-time and back which the computer doesn't handle very well, but I won't spend too much time trying to make the sound perfect.


30/01/2005

Pyramid-2

Here is the second of two new orchestrations of Pyramid going under the title Oriental. In the process of looking at this set of parts and entering the music into the computer I came to the realisation that this was likely written in 1937, not 1938. One of the three surviving trumpet parts is written for Freddy Jenkins, and the way the parts are arranged seems to suggest that there should be four trumpets! That is quite interesting. Looking again at Pyramid-1, I am not so sure whether that particular arrangement should have four trumpets also, or not. I suspect not.

As with the other set of parts, both Hodges and Hardwick are missing, but here both Nanton and Tizol are missing also. I have had to guess the notes for two trombones, two saxophones and the putative extra trumpet. That is most likely to beArthur Whetsel taking the lead part. The other parts are for Cooty, Rex and Freddy.

Again, I think there is no surviving score for this set of parts. Juan Tizol has initialled each of the parts in this set perhaps to indicate his role as the composer of the theme - although undoubtedly having little hand in the orchestration. Perhaps this indicates that this set of parts predates the set of parts for Pyramid-1, which are not initialled?

I don't think any of this material was ever recorded. Have a listen to the samples! I have not satisfied myself with the parts I have filled in myself, but I will not spend more time trying to analyse the voicings to extrapolate the missing notes.


29/01/2005

Sequedilla

There is an almost-full set of parts, some of which are titled Sequedilla or Seque, the rest of which are untitled but which I was able to identify and match to the other parts. We have a composition which is practically complete bar some indications of solos and the lack of a definite ending. A Sequedilla is a Latin-Americal dance rhythm, and this music certainly fits the bill,although I'm not entirely sure about the tempo. Rather like Moon Over Cuba there are some section which I imagine are in swing-time.

The set of parts probably date from the early 1940s. There are six brass and five saxophones, with Bigard mostly on clarinet. The bass part is written out in some detail, as you will hear from the sound samples. I created a fade ending which I think fits with what is written. The computer-generated samples don't have all of the latin/swing changes I would like, because I can't change from straight to swing in the middle of a bar. Some of the rhythms may not sound quite right.

Have a listen to the samples!


21/11/2004

MTK-SUN - Where is the Sun?

Through a stroke of luck I have managed to identify this item as Where is the Sun?. The music comprises only (so far) three saxophone parts for Barney, Carney and Otto, two of which are titled simply Sun, the other being untitled but which I was able to match with the other two. I haven't seen any other matching parts or scores yet.

The stroke of luck was my becoming aware of this title when I followed a web link picturing a flier for a 1937 Cotton Club Review with that very title. I had previously not found any matching Ellington titles with the word Sun in them. I enquired futher and was informed that I should find recordings of Billie Holiday singing Where is the Sun? I found one and listened - and lo and behold it is indeed the same piece. We cannot definitely conclude that the Ellington arrangement dates from 1937, but it would seem very likely.

The Elington arrangement is in two sections: one in Eb-major appearing to the feature the saxophone section but with many gaps, the other in Bb-major presumably featuring voice or solo brass instrument, looking at the nature of the saxophone parts. I am presenting the two sections separately. The Bb-major section apparently runs into the Eb-section, as indicated on the parts. From Billie Holiday's vocal I created a sketch of the melody and put it on trumpet for the Bb section. I also generated a bass line and roughly guessed the notes for Johnny Hodges' saxophone part to fill in the 4-part harmonies.

Have a listen to the samples!


13/11/2004

MTK-704-14-8-1

This score in Eb-major is in three parts, two of the choruses coherently linked together. I have little doubt that the third section is also the same composition, but as there is no linking music I have kept that chorus as a separate soundfile. The third section also appears to be unfinished. As well as not linking to the third chorus, the second chorus is missing its last two bars. This score is written for three reeds, three trumpets and two trombones and can be found in the same folder as the score to It's Glory from 1931.

Can you identify this music?


12/11/2004

MTK-704-12-16A-1

This score in Db-major is part of an arrangement of I Let a Song Go Out of my Heart. There is a set of band parts that match the score, along with the other score fragment MTK-704-15-18-1 . However, I can't recall if there is a recording of this arrangement. This score is written for four reeds, three trumpets and three trombones, with Tricky Sam indicated as resting. The words "last chorus" are scribbled on the score but the chorus is not complete - there are a few bars missing that would link the two scores. On the reverse of the score is one line of music identified as the introduction to You Gave Me the Gate.

Can you identify this music?


12/11/2004

MTK-704-15-18-1

This fragment of score in Db-major is the finale of the arrangement of I Let a Song Go Out of my Heart. Listen to the unison saxophones for a reference to the theme. The score is related to the item MTK-704-12-16A-1. There are two bars of other Db-major music on the reverse, but more interestingly, also an Ab-major version of the introduction to I Let a Song..., followed by the words "to Brown solo". There are a few bars of music missing to link the two scores, but there is a set of matching band parts.

Can you identify this music?


9/11/2004

MTK-704-15-21-1

Well, not long after posting this sample on the page I lsitened to the 1928/29 recordings and realised this score is an arrangement of Japanese Dream. However, it bears little resemblance to the recorded version of Feb 1929. I wouldn't be surprised if this score was written not long after Juan Tizol joined the orchestra, giving a 5-piece brass section. Perhaps indeed a number of the early untitled manuscripts I am presenting date from this period, being revisions to earlier compositions to suit the augmented orchestra?

This score in C-major shows three reeds, three trumpets and two trombones. I have guessed that the tempo should not be too fast. The climax towards the end suggests a finale, but the last bar is somewhat of a wind-down, so there may be a following solo chorus and then a grander finale? I have found a lone 1st cornet part which matches this score plus four additional bars which may be an introduction. This suggests that the score was at least rehearsed if not performed. What's more, the cornet part has a few bars of Rockin' in Rhythm in C-major on the back of it, plus 8 bars of music in Ab-major.

Can you identify this music?


8/11/2004

MTK-704-16-7-1 - Say It Isn't So

I have just recognised this fragment of score as being an arrangement of Say It Isn't So. I listened to it and heard Billie Holliday singing it in my head, so eventually I was able to track it down and identify it.

Interestingly there are possibly parts for this title in the Smithsonian, at least one on the back of a part for Sheik of Araby. What I don't know yey is whether that is the 1932 or 1940 version. I thought this untitled score was early, but in fact there is little to say that it could not be from 1940. The only clue seems to be presence of a bass saxophone in the other score fragment MTK-704-16-5-1.

This score in Eb-major has a chorus featuring mainly the trombone section before a modulation to C-major. There is, however, nothing written after the key signature change. There is, however, some C-major music on one page of another score, presented as item MTK-704-16-5-1, which seems very much the same composition as this one. What do you think? The Eb-major choruses are very similar although the other is stretched out, this one shorter. The chord progressions and some motifs are otherwise identical. My chosen tempo may be appropriate, or not. There are three trumpets, three trombones and an indeterminate number of reeds.

Can you identify this music?


8/11/2004

MTK-704-16-5-1 - Say It Isn't So

This is another part of Say It Isnt' So. See MTK-704-16-7-1.

This Eb-major seems very much the same as the item MTK-704-16-7-1. There are four pages of music but it is not entirely clear whether the sections are contiguous or not. I have pasted them directly together in the sound sample. There are three trumpets, three trombones and four reed instruments with a bass saxophone indicated. This score might be the finale of the composition. The fourth page has a passage for saxophones in C major but with a note "change to Eb" written above it. That may or may not be an entirely different composition, as it can't really follow directly from the key signature change found in item MTK-704-16-7-1. Other C-major scores may be found!

Can you identify this music?


8/11/2004

MTK-301-467-1-3

This score in G-major has one page showing three reed instruments, three trumpets and two trombones. The score appears unfinished, so it may not be a recognisable Ellington composition. I have added a 2-beat bass line and a moderate tempo.

Can you identify this music?


6/11/2004

A March ?

This is a curious item. I collected together a set of brass parts distributed amongst the untitled manuscripts and put them on the computer to see what the result was. The music is in 6/8 time in F-major, and it looked like some sort of military band music. There is no score so I can't say for sure who arranged it, but the parts are, as usual, written out by Juan Tizol. There are parts for Cooty, Wallace, Brown, Tizol, Tricky. The other trumpet is missing. There is more music (it modulates to Bb-major) which I haven't put in. This isn't the only piece in 6/8 in the collection, and of course there are also a few national anthems (The Stars and Stripes, God Save the King/Queen) to be found. Maybe it is something by Sousa or another composer?

Can you identify this music?


6/11/2004

MTK-301-467-3-3

A three-page score showing a composition in G-major. The instrumentation show three reeds, three trumpets and two trombones, suggesting an early date. The second and third pages shows sketches of the basic melody with three-part reed harmonies whilst the first page is a more detailed arrangement for the full ensemble, as presented in two different sound samples below. The last bar of the full ensemble arrangement has not been completed. There is also a brief sketch of the first 8 bars of the melody and harmony to this composition on a separate sheet of paper elsewhere in the Smithsonian.

Can you identify this music?


6/11/2004

MTK-704-16-8-1

We have here a section of an unknown score showing the whole orchestra in a final chorus of a work in G-major. There are three trumpets, three trombones and four reeds with a soprano sax lead and Bigard playing both tenor and clarinet. Cooty Williams ad libs over the last few bars. I e-mailed this music to a few people a year ago but it has not been identified. Since then I discovered Johnny Hodges' part to this piece in the Smithsonian, written on the back of a piece in Eb-major called Humming. Unfortunately this doesn't help and the part showed no more music than what is on this one sheet of score.

Can you identify this music?


6/11/2004

MTK-704-15-14-1

We have here a section of score showing the whole orchestra in a final chorus of an unknown work in Eb-major. I e-mailed this music to a few people a year ago but it has not been identified. There are three trumpets, two trombones and three reeds with the clarinet indicated as soloing over the last few bars. I rather like this fragment of music - I wouldn't mind having the complete piece!

Can you identify this music?


6/11/2004

MTK-415-44-2-1

Another score fragment in F-major with an incomplete last bar but clearly following on from another page of score, presumably lost. The score begins with the last three bars of a chorus in the reeds, before a brass chorus. I haven't yet matched this music to any of the other F-major score fragments. The instrumentation shows three reeds, three trumpet and two trombones.

Can you identify this music?


6/11/2004

MTK-301-467-1-1

Here is yet another fragment of score in F-major on the back of a fragment of unidentified score in Eb major, item MTK-301-467-1-2. This F-major score fragment has 16 bars of the full orchestra: three reads, three trumpets and two trombones. It is not possible to determine if there is a third trombone or a fourth reed instrument resting, but the sound of it suggests that it is a fairly early composition. It doesn't sound familiar to me. The score would appear to be unfinished - it may not be anything that was ever recorded.

Can you identify this music?


6/11/2004

MTK-301-467-1-2

This apparently unfinished fragment of score in Eb-major is on the back of a fragment in F-major, which is item MTK-301-467-1-1. This score shows two trumpets and two trombones as the background for a single unidentified melody line, presumably one of the reed instruments. The melody line appears not to have been completed for the bridge, so we have just brass chords. The final chorus (a repeat of the first) is not completed at the last bar either.

Can you identify this music?


5/11/2004

MTK-301-467-3-1

This score seems to be an early work in F-major and is undoubtedly the same composition as item MTK-415-45-10, but the two manuscripts are found in completely different places in the Smithsonian collections! The scores appears to show four-part brass harmonies- two trumpet and two trombones - with three reeds. It presumably predates August 1931. There may be other related fragments of score in the bundle of F-major untitled manuscripts. I have guessed an upbeat tempo and a typical staccato feel, although I could be mistaken.

Can you identify this music?


5/11/2004

MTK-415-45-10-1

This score is a continuation or an earlier chorus of the composition MTK-301-467-3-1. Listen to both of these related items! The downloads are a little larger as there is a reasonably quantity of music, albeit mostly repeated sections.

Can you identify this music?


5/11/2004

MTK-301-467-3-2

This score also in F-major doesn't seem to be related to MTK-301-467-3-1 even though it is found alongside it with a number of other fragments of scores of a similar age. I cannot be sure whether the lead instrument is a clarinet or a trumpet. If it's a clarinet then are four reed instruments in total, which helps to date the composition. Either way it would certainly seem like an early 1930s work. There is no music for the trombones in this fragment of score. I have guessed the moderate tempo as there is a 4-beat bass line, not a 2-beat line. Perhaps it should be even slower?

Can you identify this music?


5/11/2004

MTK-415-44-5-1

This item is just a 12-bar fragment of score in F-major indicating only what appear to be four saxophones, probably three altos and a tenor, or perhaps with a soprano lead instead. I would probably date the music to the early 1930s and I have guessed the tempo.

Can you identify this music?


5/11/2004

MTK-704-15-27-1 - Maori

I was in the middle of uploading this item to the web when I realised what it was. It's the final chorus to Maori.

This is a helpful identification but it his still leaves the middle section of the score to Maori missing. In October, at the Smithsonian, I discovered the first chorus of Maori incorrectly filed under Lightnin' simply because that word was scribbled on the manuscript! Now I've found the last chorus - perhaps the middle section will also turn up? You can still listen to the sound samples even though I now know what this music is. I'll leave the text I wrote before I recognised it...

This is yet another item in F-major from the 1930s, this time a more complete score of two pages showing 3 trumpets (Cooty, Whetsel and Jenkins) and 3 trombones, which may help date the music. The four reeds are all on clarinet at first then change to saxes. The first seven bars are intended to have a Barney Bigard solo over the brass chords. Cooty Williams solos over the last four bars.

Can you identify this music?


3/11/2004

MTK-415-45-8 - Sophisticated Lady

The sound clips below are for a few bars of an arrangement of Sophisticated Lady written in double time (i.e. 16-bar phrases, not 8-bar), so I'm not sure of the intended tempo or feel. I haven't applied a swing feel to the quavers. The fragment of score ends at the first bar of the bridge and I saw no other sheets of manuscript that appear to continue it. The score shows six brass and four reeds, so it presumably predates 1940. There are no other clues as to its age. The reeds play the theme, a fairly simple extension of the melody we know well, in unison over brass harmonies. I have added a two-beat bass-line. Is there a recorded version of Sophisticated Lady that matches this arrangement?
3/11/2004

MTK-704-16-5-2

This item has now been identified as Swing Low from 1932. Identification by Anthony Coleman.

This fragment of music has two surviving band parts for Barney and alto (Hardwick, presumably) and an incomplete score in F major. The two surviving saxophone parts show a 32-bar chorus preceding the music I am presenting in the sound samples, the score for which has got separated and perhaps lost or destroyed. The fragment of score dates from the 1930s, probably quite early, and indicates soprano sax lead with Carney playing alto and Bigard on tenor. There is s trombone solo with three trumpets backing. There are no personnel indications on the score to help date it. There is another page of score which I may add to the sound samples. This saxophone passage sounds vaguely familiar to me but I could be mistaken. Is this an identifiable Ellington composition from the 1930s? I have added a 2-to-the- bar bass beat and guessed an appropriate upbeat tempo.


5/11/2004

MTK-301-337-5 - Sherman Shuffle

I discovered an untitled fragment of a score to Sherman Shuffle which may have been a preliminary sketch of the piece. It is only one chorus long. The Sherman Shuffle score has the full brass ensemble behind the unison saxophones with the clarinet having a high-register line complementing parts of the sax melody. The bridge has Ray Nance on trumpet, over the saxes playing figures much like those we hear on the recorded version.