At this Ellington Study we dive into an in-depth analysis of the iconic “Ko Ko” by Duke Ellington, using an excellent transcription by David Baker as a reference. This is another great Ellington piece from 1940 that looks both to the past and to the future, with great soloists, and featuring the young bassist Jimmy Blanton. We hear Duke’s “jungle period” roots mixed with a New Orleans and swing vibe, and we see how he squeezes everything into a compact and relatively short recording, accomplished as always with profoundly modern orchestration techniques. For a change of pace, we also take a look at “Moten Swing” by Bennie Moten, talking about riffs and Kansas City swing, and also talk about horn voicings and mixed doubling for a smaller ensemble.
About Scott Healy
Composer Scott Healy leads the The Ellington Study Group in Los Angeles, a hands-on study of scores and recordings of large ensemble jazz music as well as music theory and orchestration techniques. The material is advanced, and is geared toward professional classical and jazz composers, film composers, arrangers, and instrumentalists who want to increase their understanding and appreciation of large ensemble jazz writing. The discussion ranges from the minutia of voicing and harmony, to broader topics like form, pacing, transparent orchestration, compositional intent, and improvisation. Previous classes have included works by Duke Ellington from the 1930’s, Ellington/Strayhorn from the 1950’s, and works by jazz composers, arrangers, and band leaders Gil Evans and Miles Davis, Bennie Moten, Fletcher Henderson, Sammy Nestico, Thad Jones, and Sun Ra. Visit Scott’s website: bluedogmusic.com