Duke Ellington Orchestra

Herb Jeffries’ biggest hit

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Herb Jeffries (1913-2014) is best remembered today for singing with Duke Ellington’s orchestra even though he was only part of Duke’s band during 1940-42 and had a successful and lengthy career.

Jeffries, who recorded early on with Earl Hines, was also “the Bronze Buckaroo,” the first African-American cowboy actor in films, starring in several movies in the 1930s.

While Jeffries always enjoyed singing Duke Ellington songs, ironically his biggest hit was “Flamingo” which was not written by Ellington.

The singer is featured in a Soundie from 1941 singing “Flamingo” with the Duke Ellington Orchestra; altoist Johnny Hodges has a brief spot during this version.

-Scott Yanow


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