Ellington seems an appropriate subject for a post on the eve of International Jazz Day. Such Sweet Thunder is a 12-part suite written in 1957 as a tribute to Shakespeare. Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn (composer/ arranger) wrote the music in three weeks, each piece inspired by a character or idea from Shakespeare’s works. I have listened to this album so many times in the last two decades and it still amazes me – it’s complex, beautiful, tragic, full of love and hate, darkness and light, with humour and sadness. The arrangements are exquisitely crafted and the band is impossibly tight. If I could only listen to one album for the rest of my life, this is the one I would choose.
Is Elmer’s Tune one of the happiest tune of the last century? Especially when sung by the Andrew’s Sisters with their crisp diction and perfectly blended three-part harmony. Written in 1941 by a man called Elmer and a couple of his musical friends.