Caravan: Audio and Video
Select a versions of Caravan to hear audio or watch video of a specific version of the song.
First recording by the Ellington Orchestra – May, 1936.(2:42)
As Tizol renders the minor melody, baritone saxophonist Harry Carney and trumpeter Cootie Williams offer aptly contrasting countermelodies and accents. After clarinetist Barney Bigard’s eight bars, Williams offers inspired plunger-mute solo. Enriched by the soloists’ syncopations, percussionist Sonny Greer and the two bassists set up a rhythmic juggernaut from beginning to end. This colorful, striking piece insinuates itself into the memory; it naturally became a hit and a standard of the jazz repertory.
TV performance – March, 1952. (3:58)
This is Ellington’s definitive filmed performance of Caravan. It was made by Snader Telescriptions, a company that provided material to TV stations to fill out their broadcast day. High-note trumpeter Cat Anderson provides an introduction; Juan Tizol renders the melody; clarinetist Jimmy Hamilton takes the second chorus; violinist Ray Nance the third; and Juan Tizol the fourth and final chorus. Drummer Louie Bellson maintains an infectious Latin rhythm underneath it all.
Vocal by Ella Fitzgerald with the Ellington Orchestra - June 1957. (3:55)
This new arrangement is designed to feature the vocal talents of Ella Fitzgerald, who does two choruses of the lyric, and splits the third chorus with clarinetist Jimmy Hamilton. She departs significantly from the original melody, creating her own new line.
Trio performance – September 1962. (4:15)
In 1962, Ellington teamed up with drummer Max Roach and bassist Charles Mingus—who were more than twenty years younger than Ellington—to make the album Money Jungle. Their more modern style prodded Ellington into vigorous, dissonant, sharp-edged playing, as here on Caravan. This is an example of an unwritten or "head" arrangement, worked out on the spot.