Black and Tan Fantasy

Duke Ellington

The earliest film short of Ellington

In 1929, a 30-year old Duke Ellington made his debut on film during this fascinating short.

The plot centers around dancer Freddi Washington, who has a heart condition but chooses to risk her health by dancing with Ellington’s show.

Trumpeter Arthur Whetsel is featured on a wonderful duet of “Black And Tan Fantasy” with pianist Ellington, “Black Beauty” is heard twice by Duke’s big band, and there are also brief excerpts of “The Duke Steps Out,” “Cotton Club Stomp” and “Flaming Youth.”

In what was a rarity for African-Americans (certainly in 1929), Duke Ellington is portrayed as being a distinguished and intelligent composer.

Personnel:

Duke Ellington, piano
Arthur Whetsel, trumpet
Freddie Jenkins trumpet
Cootie Williams, trumpet
Tricky Sam Nanton, trombone
Juan Tizol, valve trombone
Barney Bigard, clarinet
Johnny Hodges, alto
Harry Carney, baritone
Fred Guy, banjo, banjo
Wellman Braud, bass
Sonny Greer, drums

-Scott Yanow