I was ready to give up on this series at one point, certain that nobody was reading and that I was doing this only for myself. Then I discovered - oh, happiness! - that some online Ellington enthusiasts had discovered my first and second installments and enjoyed them, even told me they were looking forward to the third. Not only has it been encouraging, but it's made me consider the prospect of a fourth part - perhaps a more critical analysis of Ellington's Black, Brown, and Beige to go with this technical analysis.
Before that, though, we've got to get through the listening guide for the third movement, "Beige." This is the most difficult part of Ellington's piece: not only is it the most structurally dense, but it's the movement that Ellington tinkered with the most, removing certain unifying elements (even some sections, such as the interlude and the "Black, Brown, and Beige are Red, White, and Blue" section, which was a bit of wartime sentiment that Ellington deleted after WW2) and changing names.
The names are a particularly maddening element. For example, the liner notes to the Carnegie Hall performance say that the waltz piece here labeled "Creamy Brown" (aka "Cy Runs Rock Waltz," the name Ellington used for the section in the '50s and '60s) was alternately titled "Sugar Hill Penthouse" - but later references identify the later theme-and-variations section of the movement as "Sugar Hill Penthouse."
Thus, there may be some confusion, but I've used the various references to name these segments with as much clarity as possible. It's hard to say just how accurate they are, though. If anyone has something that might help, please let me know.
Once again, 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).
III – Beige
(0:00 – 0:52)
Duke Ellington’s Spoken Intro.
Trumpets and clarinets blast with trombones and saxes underscoring, stomping march rhythm. trumpets and clarinets continue for 14 bars; at 1:14 trombones and saxes turnaround and take 4-bar passage.