Black and Tan Fantasy


Artist: Duke Ellington
Album: Early Ellington: The Complete Brunswick Recordings (1926-1931)

The black-and-tan drink existed when Duke Ellington recorded what would become one of the most frequently performed Ducal standards, but the connotation here is racial — a reference to speakeasies that permitted or even encouraged interracial mingling. Driven by trumpeter and co-composer Bubber Miley’s spellbinding performance, Ellington’s composition captures the strange, ominously dreamy atmosphere of 1920s decadence; in retrospect, its famous concluding Chopinfuneral-march quote seems to portend the end of the decade and the coming of hard times.

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