Old Man Blues

Duke Ellington

A dazzling performance by Duke’s orchestra in 1930

Duke Ellington and his big band made their debut performance on film in the 1929 short Black And Tan.

The following year they appeared in their first full-length movie, an otherwise forgettable Amos ‘N Andy production called Check And Double Check.

For 2 ½ glorious minutes, the Ellington Orchestra romps on “Old Man Blues,” featuring solos by baritonist Harry Carney and the colorful trumpeter Freddy Jenkins

Among those seen and briefly heard are bassist Wellman Braud, trombonist Tricky Sam Nanton, clarinetist Barney Bigard and the leader on piano.

While one wishes there was a lot more of this early Ellington orchestra, viewers cannot help but be grateful that this priceless clip exists.

-Scott Yanow