Caravan (Duke Ellington)

In Album, Caravan on February 21, 2009 at 11:35 am


Caravan” composed by Juan Tizol and first performed by Duke Ellington in 1937. Tizol also composed “Perdido” for the Ellington band. The lyrics were written by Irving Mills, but as many versions are instrumental he is sometimes not listed. The song is variously seen as the first Latin jazz song or as a Mideastern influenced jazz song. Its “exotic” sound made it of interest to Exotica musicians so it was covered by both Martin Denny and Arthur Lyman. It has appeared in two Woody Allen films, Alice and Sweet and Lowdown. Even rap musicians Redman and Busta Rhymes sampled the song heavily in their 1998 song “Da Goodness” (from Redman’s album Doc’s da Name 2000).


First version


The first version of the song was recorded on December 19, 1936, performed by Barney Bigard And His Jazzopators in Hollywood. Two takes were recorded, of which the first (Variety VA-515-1) was published.

It is noteworthy that on the Barney Bigard 78 recording, the composer of the song is listed on the record label as “Juan Tizol”.


  •  Cootie Williams (trumpet),
  •  Juan Tizol (trombone),caravan1
  • Barney Bigard (clarinet),
  • Harry Carney (baritone sax),
  • Duke Ellington (piano),
  • Billy Taylor (bass)
  • Sonny Greer (drums).


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