Notes On the Compositions
Elingtonia is a tribute to the music of the great Duke Ellington Orchestra of the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. Strangely enough the final ensemble passage of the Ellington Stomp was written first. The idea of a large composition honouring not only Duke Ellington but the wonderful musicians who realized his music grew out of the effort to find a proper setting for this original section. Bubber, Cootie and Tricky Sam celebrates the development of the plunger mute by the Ellington brass players. Harry and the Rabbit honours Harry Carney and Johnny Hodges. Barney Bigard is a tribute to one of the great Ellingtonian clarinetists. The Ellington Stomp salutes the Duke Ellington Orchestra as a whole.
The Caracas Suite was written following a visit by the band to Caracas in September of 1992 to perform at the Venezuela Jazz Festival. Las Mercedes was named after the busy Avenue Las Mercedes outside our hotel. El Libertador is in honour of Simon Bolivar, whose name and visage are everywhere in Caracas. Chacaito commemorates a great afternoon spent in a busy area of downtown Caracas.
In the mid-1980’s, Barry Elmes and I had the good fortune to play with Eddie ‘Cleanhead’ Vinson during several of his Toronto appearances. I wrote A Portrait of Eddie Vinson as a tribute to the memory of a great musician. – Al Henderson