If you listen to one thing this week…..

‘The Single Petal of A Rose’ – Duke Ellington

Another troubled, turbulent week – at home and abroad – but on Friday evening, at an informal performance platform/social event for members of Piano Network UK, a 1500+ strong Facebook group of pianists, composers, piano teachers, and piano lovers, I discovered via one of the performers, jazz pianist Rick Simpson, this piece by Duke Ellington. As Rick said when he introduced the piece, it’s Ellington’s hommage to Debussy and Ravel, and there’s more than a hint of Claire de Lune in it with its sensuous harmonies, repeated melodic fragments and softly undulating rhythms.

This rendition is by Marian McPartland from her album ‘The Single Petal of A Rose: The Essence of Duke Ellington’.

The piece comes from ‘The Queen Suite’, written by Ellington in honour of Queen Elizabeth II in 1958 after he met her at a reception in Leeds. The six-movement suite had remained hidden in the Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC, since the composer’s death in 1998 before it was played at the Marlborough International Jazz Festival as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012.