Journal: News & Comment

Sunday, October 15, 2006
# 1:40:00 PM:

Finally I know the tune

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Oscar PetersonOne of the frustrations with instrumental music is that if you have a tune stuck in your head, it's awfully hard to find out what it is if you don't know the title. For the past couple of weeks, I had an incredibly famous, simple jazz riff in my head that I've heard hundreds of times over the years, but never knew the name of:

C-C, C-C C-C, C-F

More than that, I had a particularly quick, swinging version in mind. I asked my daughters' piano teacher, Lorraine, and played her the riff (it's simple enough that even I can play it). She was pretty sure it was called "Duke's Place." Sure enough, Duke Ellington wrote it, and hunting around I found dozens of versions of the tune by him (alone, with his band, with Ella Fitzgerald and with Louis Armstrong) and others, even a YouTube film of Ellington's group playing it in 1942. It was the right tune, but not the recording I was thinking of—all of them were too slow, not quite as staccato as the one I liked.

It turns out that "Duke's Place" is also known as "The C-Jam Blues." So I did some more hunting, and spotted a version by Oscar Peterson. Of course! And there it is, on his "Night Train" album from 1962. Oscar playing Ellington. How could it be anyone else?


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