Duke Ellington – “Jeep’s Blues”

Year: 1956

Album: Ellington at Newport

For all you American Hustle fans. Also, we could all use more Duke Ellington in our lives. The song was written by Ellington and his saxophonist Johnny Hodges in 1938, but this version is off the Ellington at Newport live album, possibly his most well known record that saved him fromĀ a late-career identity crisis. What’s so powerful about this performance is how it explodes with sound right away, a rare move in the kind of jazz Ellington was known for (“Who starts a song like that?” asks Christian Bale’s character in the movie). This was a post-Charlie Parker world in which loud rock ‘n’ roll was making a name for itself, and Ellington was wise to turn up the volume of his big band and shake the dust off an aging career. At least for now, the Duke was saved.

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber

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