While I have no idea how many hits I received for my first installment of this experiment in navigating the architecture of Duke Ellington's famous extended composition, Black, Brown and Beige, I do know that it received precisely zero comments.
The implication is that nobody read it or at least cared enough about what I was doing to leave a comment. Granted, this isn't exactly the usual material one would read in a jazz column: it's more like a study aid (which, indeed, it is), and nobody likes it when you ask them to study. So I certainly understand if this isn't a terribly popular piece.
But I'm going to continue it anyway. I think (or hope) it is very helpful for anyone who wants to study BB&B or any other of Ellington's lengthy compositions. It also shouldn't be left dangling and incomplete, as it would if I ended it with part one of three. And most importantly, I'm enjoying it. It is great mental exercise and gives me something to go on when I go into the work of Ellington or anybody else.
Thus we move on to the second movement of Ellington's opus "Brown." Easily the most segmented of the three movements, "Brown" is primarily about the final moments of slavery in the United States.
It contains three episodes: "West Indian Dance," about the influx of black slaves, laborers, and et cetera from the Caribbean, with particular emphasis on Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas; "Emancipation Celebration," which is exactly what it sounds like; and "Mauve," better known as "The Blues, which, said Ellington, was a moment of sadness for the older slaves who found themselves with nowhere to go after emancipation.
Times and performance details are for the January 23, 1943 Carnegie Hall performance, as recorded on The Duke Ellington Carnegie Hall Concerts: January 1943 (Prestige).
II – Brown
(0:00 – 1:17)
Duke Ellington’s spoken intro.
i. West Indian Dance
Four-bar drum intro, with clarinet entering at 1:22, trombone at 1:23, and full band at 1:25 – until BOOM at 1:32 leads into theme and variations.
Theme 1A – 8-bar with slow, Caribbean groove