Caravan song jazz

Caravan song jazz DEFAULT




Bunny Berigan Orchestra


Bunny Berigan (tp, dir), Irving Goodman, Steve Lipkins (tp), Al George, Sonny Lee (tb), Mike Doty, Joe Dixon (as, cl), Clyde Rounds, George Auld (ts), Joe Lipman (p), Tom Morgan (g), Hank Wayland (b), George Wettling (d), Gail Reese (voc)

The Mills Brothers


Herbert, Harry & Donald Mills (voc), John Mills Sr.(g, voc)

Valaida Snow


Valaida Snow (voc, tp), Lulle Ellbojs Orkester

Billy Eckstine


Billy Eckstine (voc), Hugo Winterhalter Orchestra

Duke Ellington- Billy Strayhorn All Stars


Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn (p), Juan Tizol (vtb), Willie Smith (as), Wendell Marshall (b), Louis Bellson (d), Norma Oldham (voc)

Nat King Cole & His Trio


Nat Cole (voc, p), John Collins (g), Charlie P. Harris (b), Lee Young (d), Jack Costanzo (bon),

Juan Tizol (vtb)

Dinah Washington


Dinah Washington (voc), Ernie Royal, Charlie Shavers, Clark Terry, Joe Wilder (tp), Don Elliott (tp, mel, vib, bon), Jimmy Cleveland, Urbie Green, Quentin Jackson, Tom Mitchell (tb), Anthony Ortega, Hal McKusick (as), Jerome Richardson, Lucky Thompson (ts), Danny Bank (bars), Sleepy Anderson (p), Barry Galbraith (g), Milt Hinton (b), Jimmy Crawford (d), Quincy Jones (dir)

Ella Fitzgerald


Ella Fitzgerald (voc),Duke Ellington (p, dir), Cat Anderson, Harold Baker, Willie Cook, Ray Nance, Clark Terry (tp), Quentin Jackson, John Sanders, Britt Woodman (tb), Johnny Hodges (as), Russell Procope (as, cl), Paul Gonsalves (ts), Jimmy Hamilton (ts, cl), Harry Carney (bars, cl), Jimmy Woode (b), Sam Woodyard (d)

Lambert, Hendricks & Ross


Dave Lambert, Jon Hendricks & Annie Ross (voc), Gildo Mahones (p), Ike Isaacs (b), Jimmy Wormworth (d)

Jeanne Lee


Jeanne Lee (voc), Mal Waldron (p)

Andy Bey


Andy Bey (p, voc), Vernell Garnett (tp, tpa), Steve Davis (tb), Dwight Andrews (cl, fl, ss), Frank Wess (fl, ts), Paul Meyers (g), Kiyoshi Kitagawa (b), Mark McLean (d), Mino Cinelu (per)

Cassandra Wilson


Cassandra Wilson (voc), Jason Moran (p), Marvin Sewell (g), Lonnie Plaxico (b), Herlin Riley, Lekan Babalola (per)


For other uses, see Caravan (disambiguation).

"Caravan" is a jazz standard composed by Juan Tizol and first performed by Duke Ellington in 1936. Irving Mills wrote the lyrics, but he sometimes is not credited on the many instrumental versions. Its exotic sound interested exotica musicians; Martin Denny, Arthur Lyman, and Gordon Jenkins all covered it. Woody Allen used the song in two of his films, Alice and Sweet and Lowdown. There are more than three hundred and fifty recordings of this song by Duke Ellington's orchestra, the great majority of them now in the public domain.[1]

First version[]


The first version of the song was recorded in Hollywood in 1936, performed as an instrumental by Barney Bigard and His Jazzopators. Two takes were recorded, of which the first (Variety VA-515-1) was published. The band members were Cootie Williams (trumpet), Juan Tizol (trombone), Barney Bigard (clarinet), Harry Carney (baritone sax), Duke Ellington (piano), Billy Taylor (bass), and Sonny Greer (drums). All of the players were members of the Duke Ellington Orchestra, which would often split into smaller units to record small-band discs. Even though Ellington was present at the recording date, the session leader was Bigard.

See also[]

  • List of 1930s jazz standards

External links and references[]

  1. ↑Alain, Pailler (2002). Duke's place, Ellington et ses imaginaire. France: Actes sud. pp. 147. ISBN 2-7427-3691-3. 

Template:Duke Ellington

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Caravan (Juan Tizol and Duke Ellington song)

Song by Barney Bigard and His Jazzopators

"Caravan" is an American jazz standard that was composed by Juan Tizol and Duke Ellington and first performed by Ellington in 1936. Irving Mills wrote lyrics, but they are rarely sung. The exotic sound of "Caravan" interested exotica musicians; Martin Denny, Arthur Lyman, and Gordon Jenkins all covered it. Woody Allen used the song in two of his films, Alice and Sweet and Lowdown. Steven Soderbergh used the Lyman version in his 2001 film Ocean's Eleven. The song appears often in the 2014 film Whiplash as an important plot element. The Mills Brothers recorded an a cappella version in which they imitated instruments with their voices. Johnny Mathis recorded the song in 1956. More than 350 versions have been recorded.[1]

Original recording[edit]

The first version of the song was recorded in Hollywood in 1936 and performed as an instrumental by Barney Bigard and His Jazzopators.[2] Two takes were recorded, of which the first (Variety VA-515-1) was published. The band members were:

The musicians were members of the Duke Ellington Orchestra, which often split into smaller combinations to record songs under different band names. For this recording, which included Ellington and Tizol as performers, the session band leader was Bigard.

Other versions[edit]

  • Barney Bigard and His Jazzopators – Hollywood, December 19, 1936[2]
  • Duke Ellington – New York, May 14, 1937[2]
  • Art Tatum – Los Angeles, April–July 1940[2]
  • Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn All-Stars - The Johnny Hodges All-Stars, New York City, June 1, 1951
  • Dizzy Gillespie – October 25, 1951[2]
  • Clifford Brown – August 11, 1954[3]
  • Thelonious Monk – Thelonious Monk Plays Duke Ellington, Hackensack, New Jersey, July 27, 1955[2]
  • Nat King Cole – After Midnight, Los Angeles, September 14, 1956[2]
  • Santo & Johnny's – Santo & Johnny (1959), peaked at number 48 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart[4]
  • The Ventures – Walk, Don't Run (album), 1960
  • Nelson Riddle – Love Tide, 1961
  • Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers – Caravan, New York, October 23, 1962[2]
  • The Fentones - Recorded August 14. 1962 at Abbey Road Studio
  • Bill Haley and His Comets — recorded two different studio versions for Orfeon Records of Mexico in 1962 and 1966, and numerous live performances including for Roulette Records in 1962 for the album Twistin' Knights at the Roundtable (Roulette SR-25174)
  • Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus & Max Roach — Money Jungle, 1963
  • Wes Montgomery – Movin' Wes, New York, November 16, 1964[2]
  • Dizzy Gillespie and Oscar Peterson – Oscar Peterson and Dizzy Gillespie, London, November 28–29, 1974[2]
  • Chet Atkins and Les Paul — Chester and Lester, 1976
  • Art Pepper – Friday Night at the Village Vanguard, New York, July 29, 1977[2]
  • Milt Jackson — Mostly Duke, 1982
  • Monty Alexander — Duke Ellington Songbook, 1983
  • Ryo Kawasaki – Lucky Lady, 1983
  • Wynton Marsalis – Marsalis Standard Time, Vol. I, New York, May 29–30, 1986 and September 24–25, 1986[2]
  • Bill Barron - Higher Ground, January 5, 1989
  • Haruomi Hosono – Omni Sight Seeing, Tokyo and Paris, 1989
  • Randy Weston – Portraits of Duke Ellington (album), 1989
  • Gonzalo Rubalcaba – Inner Voyage (album), Blue Note, 1989
  • Rabih Abou-Khalil – Roots & Sprouts, 1990
  • Medeski Martin & Wood – Notes from the Underground, New York, December 15–16, 1991[2]
  • Thin White Rope – Squatter's Rights, Frontier Records, 1991
  • Louis Sclavis Sextet – Ellington on the air, 1991
  • Michel Camilo – Rendezvous, New York, January 18–20, 1993[2]
  • Dave Grusin – Homage to Duke, 1993
  • Gary Primich - Travellin' Mood, 1994
  • Michel Petrucciani – Promenade with Duke, 1992; Solo Live in Germany, 1997
  • Chicago – Night & Day: Big Band, 1995
  • Dee Dee Bridgewater – Prelude to a Kiss: The Duke Ellington Album, 1996
  • Jimi Tenor – Intervision (Album), Warp, 1997
  • Danny Gatton – Danny Gatton; In Concert 9/9/94, Big Mo Records, Original Release Date: May 6, 1997
  • Abdullah Ibrahim – Ode to Duke Ellington (album), 1998
  • Chucho Valdés — Briyumba palo Congo, 1999
  • Russell Gunn — Ethnomusicology, Vol. 2, 2001
  • The Brian Setzer Orchestra – Jumpin' East of Java, 2001
  • Flat Earth Society – The Armstrong Mutations, 2003
  • Bustan Abraham – Live concerts, 2003
  • Fanfare Ciocărlia – Gili Garabdi – Ancient Secrets of Gypsy Brass, 2005
  • Avishai Cohen – As Is...Live at the Blue Note, 2007
  • Jacky Terrasson – Mirror, 2007
  • Hiromi Uehara – Beyond Standard, 2008
  • Eumir Deodato – First Cuckoo, 1975
  • Brownman Electryc Trio – Gravitation, 2013

Santana's La Fuente del Ritmo from the 1972 album Caravanserai borrows the melodic line of Caravan, although the song is credited to percussionist James Mingo Lewis of Santana.

See also[edit]

External links and references[edit]

Duke Ellington


  • Harlem Jazz, 1930
  • Ellingtonia, Vol. One
  • Ellingtonia, Vol. Two
  • Braggin' in Brass: The Immortal 1938 Year
  • The Blanton–Webster Band
  • Never No Lament: The Blanton-Webster Band
  • Smoke Rings
  • Liberian Suite
  • Great Times!
  • Masterpieces by Ellington
  • Ellington Uptown
  • The Duke Plays Ellington
  • Ellington '55
  • Dance to the Duke!
  • Ellington Showcase
  • Historically Speaking
  • Duke Ellington Presents...
  • The Complete Porgy and Bess
  • A Drum Is a Woman
  • Studio Sessions, Chicago 1956
  • Such Sweet Thunder
  • Studio Sessions 1957 & 1962
  • Ellington Indigos
  • Black, Brown and Beige
  • Duke Ellington at the Bal Masque
  • The Cosmic Scene
  • Happy Reunion
  • Jazz Party
  • Back to Back
  • Side by Side
  • Anatomy of a Murder
  • Festival Session
  • Blues in Orbit
  • The Nutcracker Suite
  • Piano in the Background
  • Swinging Suites by Edward E. and Edward G.
  • Unknown Session
  • Piano in the Foreground
  • The Great Summit: The Master Takes
  • Paris Blues
  • Featuring Paul Gonsalves
  • Midnight in Paris
  • Duke Ellington Meets Coleman Hawkins
  • Studio Sessions, New York 1962
  • Money Jungle
  • Afro-Bossa
  • The Symphonic Ellington
  • Duke Ellington's Jazz Violin Session
  • Studio Sessions New York 1963
  • My People
  • Ellington '65
  • Duke Ellington Plays Mary Poppins
  • Ellington '66
  • Concert in the Virgin Islands
  • The Popular Duke Ellington
  • Far East Suite
  • The Jaywalker
  • Studio Sessions, 1957, 1965, 1966, 1967, San Francisco, Chicago, New York
  • ...And His Mother Called Him Bill
  • Second Sacred Concert
  • Studio Sessions New York, 1968
  • Latin American Suite
  • The Pianist
  • New Orleans Suite
  • Orchestral Works
  • The Suites, New York 1968 & 1970
  • The Intimacy of the Blues
  • The Afro-Eurasian Eclipse
  • Studio Sessions New York & Chicago, 1965, 1966 & 1971
  • The Intimate Ellington
  • The Ellington Suites
  • This One's for Blanton!
  • Up in Duke's Workshop
  • Duke's Big 4
  • Mood Ellington

“When it came to royalties, the settlement was often a flat fee.
For ‘Caravan’ Irving Mills paid Juan Tizol twenty-five dollars.”

- JW


Barney Bigard and His Jazzopaters introduced “Caravan” on the Variety label in December, 1936. The recording entered the pop charts in June of 1937, rising to number four. A month later, the recording by Duke Ellington and His Orchestra on the Master label (pressed in May, 1937) found its way onto the charts and rose to number twenty.

Other recordings of “Caravan” to make the pop charts include:

  • Billy Eckstine (1949, with Hugo Winterhalter and His Orchestra, #27)
  • Ralph Marterie (1953, #6, million seller)
  • Esquire Boys (1953, #27)

Around the same time that publisher and manager Irving Mills was writing the lyrics for “Caravan,” he was launching two new record labels, Master and Variety. A veritable who’s who of the jazz world attended the over-the-top party and jam session in celebration of the new labels. Mercer Ellington and Stanley Dance, authors of Duke Ellington in Person: An Intimate Memoir, report that the guest list included Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Lester Young, Herschel Evans, and Jo Jones while Duke Ellington played in a trio with Artie Shaw and Chick Webb. Ella Fitzgerald sang. The press coverage, as planned, was terrific.


Of the two labels, Variety was reserved for new talent and experimental projects. Helen Oakley, the wife of journalist Stanley Dance, was its A & R (artist and repertoire) manager. She suggested to Mills that they try some small group recordings using musicians from the Ellington Orchestra. Given the go-ahead, Oakley arranged for a number of sessions, one of which included the December 19, 1936, Los Angeles recording of “Caravan” by Barney Bigard and His Jazzopaters. With Bigard on clarinet, the Jazzopaters consisted of Cootie Williams (trumpet), Juan Tizol (valve trombone), Harry Carney (baritone sax), Duke Ellington (piano), Billy Taylor (bass), and Sonny Greer (drums). Though the Jazzopator hit proved the feasibility of Oakley’s idea, both the Variety and Master labels were defunct before the close of 1937 due, in part, to stiff business competition.


As with many of Duke Ellington’s compositions the idea originated with one of his musicians. In the case of “Caravan” it was trombonist Juan Tizol. Ellington is quoted in Stuart Nicholson’s Reminiscing in Tempo: A Portrait of Duke Ellington as saying “... that’s one of those things Tizol came up with. See, it wasn’t in tempo, he stood [and played it] sort of ad lib. He played it, [the] first ten bars, we took it and worked out the rest of it.”


When it came to credit and royalties for musicians’ contributions, the settlement was often a flat fee. For “Caravan” Irving Mills paid Juan Tizol twenty-five dollars. When the recording became a hit, however, Tizol requested Mills cut him in on the royalties, which the manager did.

More information on this tune...
James Lincoln Collier
Duke Ellington
Oxford University Press, USA
Hardcover: 352 pages

(In this biography of Ellington one page is devoted to the history and musical analysis of the song.)
See the Reading and Research page for this tune for additional references.

- Jeremy Wilson

This section suggests definitive or otherwise significant recordings that will help jazz students get acquainted with “Caravan.” These recordings have been selected from the Jazz History and CD Recommendations sections.

The original recording of “Caravan” (Duke’s Men: The Small Groups, Vol. 1) is as musically brilliant as it is historically significant, and it is still the place to start when studying the tune. A more modern, edgy arrangement of the tune appeared on several recordings in the early 1960s courtesy of trumpeter Freddie Hubbard. The version he did with Art Blakey’s band (Caravan) would prove to be particularly influential. Meanwhile, though it is unusual to find a recent recording on any list of “definitive” recordings, the 1986 recording of “Caravan” by Wynton Marsalis (Marsalis Standard Time, Vol.1) is a notable exception, as his group’s performance has tremendously impacted the approach to the tune by subsequent generations.

Noah Baerman - Jazz Pianist and Educator

Ellington’s arrangement of “Caravan” makes the song. Starting in a minor key and performed with a Middle Eastern beat, the music creates an exotic atmosphere, all the while conjuring up such elements as camels, tents and the desert. For those imagining a hot and dusty day in the caravan trade, Irving Mills’ lyrics provide a significant course correction, relating intrigue and romance as two lovers travel beneath the stars. Mills’ rhyming is simple, the words seem dashed off, and, unless you can accept an implied progression of time, the lines are contradictory: The stars are bright yet their light is fading; it is night yet you are “beside me here beneath the blue.” To Mills’ credit, however, his phrases are modest and evocative, nicely supporting the overall caravan mood.

- JW

Musical analysis of “Caravan”

Original Key F minor
Form A -A -B -A
Tonality “A” is primarily minor, despite the fact that most of it is spent on V7 (or corresponding diminished substitution). “B” is a circle of fifths in major.
Movement Embellished sustained note on dominant, descending chromatically to the tonic by the end of “A”. Section “B” ends with an upward arpeggiation to the dominant of the original key.

Comments (assumed background)

The chromatically altered notes in the melody over V7 and vii°7 chords tend to give the “A” section a mysterious, quasi-Oriental sound, and the slow harmonic rhythm gives the inexperienced improviser an opportunity to work on ideas in a single key over several measures (the C7 and Db°7 chord both serve the same function, as the latter is identical to C7(b9) without the root). The harmonic progression of the “B” section, in contrast, should be very familiar to anyone familiar with “Sweet Georgia Brown,” as it uses a “circle of fifths” in an almost identical fashion.
K. J. McElrath - Musicologist for

Although generally associated with Duke Ellington (who over his career had many different arrangements of the tune), “Caravan” was a popular “mood” piece recorded by a number of big bands in the 1930’s (Edgar Hayes, Bunny Berigan, Benny Goodman). An interesting version from 1937 is by the Mills Brothers, doing an arrangement featuring their vocal imitation of instruments.

By the 1950’s, the tune had become a set-up for extended drum solos (musician/composer Frank Zappa once remarked, “I wanna hear ‘Caravan’ with a drum solo”), and to most people this is the way the tune is expected to be performed.

Chris Tyle - Jazz Musician and Historian

Additional information for "Caravan" may be found in:
Thomas S. Hischak
The Tin Pan Alley Song Encyclopedia
Greenwood Press
Hardcover: 552 pages

(1 paragraph including the following types of information: Broadway productions, film productions, history and performers.)
James Lincoln Collier
Duke Ellington
Oxford University Press, USA
Hardcover: 352 pages

(1 page including the following types of information: history and music analysis.)
“Caravan” was included in these films:
  • Alice (1990, Error Garner)
  • Sweet and Lowdown(1999, Bunny Berigan, also dubbed on guitar by Howard Alden for Sean Penn)
  • Chocolat(2000, instrumental, Johnny Depp played it on guitar with Malcolm Ross)
  • Ocean’s Eleven (2001, Arthur Lyman Group)

And on Broadway:

  • Sophisticated Ladies (1981, Gregg Burge)
  • Swing! (1999, Gotham City Gates)

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Click on any CD for more details at
Randy Weston
Portraits of Duke
1989, Polygram France

Weston lived for many years in Africa, absorbing its culture, and as a result brings new insight to Ellington’s work. He knew and admired Ellington, and here the pianist celebrates the Africanism of Duke’s music with Jamil Nasser (b), Idris Muhammad (drums and percussion), and Eric Asante (percussion.)
Andy Bey
American Song
2004, Savoy Jazz

Bey was voted Vocalist of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association in 2003. The immediacy of Bey’s vocal is set against an unusual rhythmic pattern on “Caravan.” Pianist Geri Allen’s arrangements throughout the CD make everything fresh.
Leon Parker
Above and Below
1994, Sony 66144

Drummer Parker lays down a distinctly tribal rhythm for Sam Newsome’s improvisations on soprano sax. He recorded “Caravan” again on his 2000 CD, The Simple Life.

Jazz caravan song

“Caravan” | Stories of Standards

Tune in to First Take with Lando and Chavis – weekdays from 6-9 am MT – for Stories of Standards to hear our favorite versions of this song all week long!

“Caravan” (1936) by Juan Tizol (1900-1984) and Duke Ellington (1899-1974) was first released on the Variety Records label in December 1936, where the Duke’s Men recording rose to #4 on the pop charts by June 1937. While publisher/manager Irving Mills initially paid Juan Tizol a flat fee of $25, Mills returned the rights and royalties to Tizol after the song had become a hit. The minor key melody created for “Caravan” forms a perennial favorite, evocative, lively and memorable, enhanced by Ellington’s arrangement.

“Caravan” was popular with a number of big bands in the 1930s, including Bunny Berigan and Benny Goodman, then morphed into a vehicle for drummers in the 1950s. The song appeared in several movies (“Alice” in 1990, “Sweet and Lowdown” in 1999, “Chocolat” in 2000 and “Ocean’s Eleven” in 2001).  Irving Mills’ lyrics are sometimes used, but most of the 350-plus recordings are instrumental.

Juan Tizol met Duke Ellington soon after moving from Puerto Rico to Washington, D. C. in 1920, while playing in the band at the Howard Theatre. As the first significant valve trombone jazz player he spent years with Ellington as trombonist and arranger. He later worked with Harry James before returning to the Ellington Orchestra.

Duke Ellington’s abilities as bandleader, composer and pianist are unparalleled, with more than 1000 of his compositions being recorded, many of them becoming jazz standards. His many awards, including honorary doctorates and the Presidential Medal of Honor, bear witness to his charm, talent, musical ability and the skill with which he brought an orchestral approach to jazz and wrote to the greatest talents of each of his band members, while many of them remained in the band for thirty or more years.



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