Sunday, April 29, 2012

Duke Ellington: His Top 50 Songs

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The man who is called “perhaps the most important talent in American popular music history” by Pop Memories 1890-1954 was born on April 29, 1899. The jazz bandleader and pianist was born Edward Kennedy Ellington in Washington D.C. He died on may 24, 1974.

He was still in his teens when he formed his first band and by 1923 had headed to New York at the suggestion of Fats Waller. Ellington began a five-year association with the famed Cotton Club in 1927. PM Pop Memories described his work from the early 1930s as the time when his “unparalleled genius as a jazz band composer became unmistakable.” PM He charted more than 70 songs from 1927 to 1954 on the Billboard pop and R&B charts.

In celebration, here are his top 50 songs as determined by an aggregate of multiple best-of lists, sales figures, chart data, and awards. Songs which hit #1 on the Billboard pop charts (#1 HT) and R&B charts (#1 RB) are noted, as are seven songs which are ranked by Dave’s Music Database in the top 1000 songs of all time (DMDB 1000) and another 11 which are in the Grammy Hall of Fame (GHoF).

Mood Indigo

1. Mood Indigo (1931) DMDB 1000 GHoF
2. Sophisticated Lady (1933) DMDB 1000
3. Take the “A” Train (1941) DMDB 1000 GHoF
4. Three Little Words (with the Rhythm Boys, 1930) #1 HT DMDB 1000
5. It Don’t Mean a Thing if It Ain’t Got That Swing (with Ivie Anderson, 1932) DMDB 1000 GHoF
6. Don’t Get Around Much Anymore (Never No Lament) (1940) #1 RB DMDB 1000 GHoF
7. Cocktails for Two (1934) #1 HT DMDB 1000 GHoF
8. Stormy Weather (Keeps Rainin’ All the Time) (1933)
9. In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree (1933)
10. Diga-Diga-Doo (with Irving Mills, 1928)

Sophisticated Lady

11. Solitude (1934)
12. Caravan (1937) GHoF
13. I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart (1938) #1 HT
14. Do Nothin’ Till You Hear from Me (1940) #1 RB GHoF
15. Black and Tan Fantasy (1928) GHoF
16. In a Sentimental Mood (1935)
17. I’m Beginning to See the Light (with Joya Sherrill, 1945)
18. Limehouse Blues (1931)
19. Rose Room in Sunny Roseland (1932)
20. I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good (with Ivie Anderson, 1941)

Take the “A” Train

21. Satin Doll (1953)
22. Moon Glow (1934)
23. Accent on Youth (1935)
24. Perdido (1942)
25. Blue Again (with Sid Garry, 1931)
26. Doin’ the New Low Down (with Irving Mills, 1928)
27. Sentimental Lady (1942) #1 RB
28. Main Stern (1942) #1 RB
29. Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue (1956) GHoF
30. Rockin’ in Rhythm (1931)

Three Little Words

31. Cotton (with Ivie Anderson, 1935)
32. Ko-Ko (1940) GHoF
33. Love Is Like a Cigarette (with Ivie Anderson, 1936)
34. East St. Louis Toodle Oo (1927)
35. You, You, Darlin’ (with Herb Jeffries, 1940)
36. Ring Dem Bells (with Cootie Williams, 1930)
37. A Slip of the Lip Can Sink a Ship (with Ray Nance, 1942) #1 RB
38. The Saddest Tale (1934)
39. I’m Satisfied (with Ivie Anderson, 1933)
40. Drop Me Off at Harlem (1933)

It Don’t Mean a Thing if It Ain’t Got That Swing

41. Creole Rhapsody (instrumental, 1931)
42. Black Beauty (1928)
43. Black, Brown and Beige (1944) GHoF
44. The Blues I Love to Sing (with Adelaide Hall, 1927)
45. Merry-Go-Round (1935)
46. Lambeth Walk (1938)
47. I’m Just a Lucky So and So (with Al Hibbler, 1945)
48. Oh Babe! Maybe Someday (1936)
49. Scattin’ at the Kit-Kat (1937)
50. If You Were in My Place, What Would You Do? (with Ivie Anderson, 1938)


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