Bonus: The Duke of Ellington

June 18th, 2020 · 1 hr 4 mins

About this Episode

When the quarantine began, professors around the world raced to put their classes online, and for the Jacobs School's big undergraduate music history course (M402 represent!) Phil created a series of solo podcasts, many of which have been appearing on the Weird Studies Patreon site. Our patrons seem to be enjoying them, so we thought we'd publish the first one ("The Duke of Ellington") as an off-week bonus for all our listeners, partly as a teaser for the subscriber-only stuff on Patreon and partly because Duke Ellington is cool. There's a bit of technical music talk in this, but you can ignore it and still get the main point: Ellington's early short film Symphony in Black and his subsequent orchestral suite Black Brown and Beige represent his lifelong project of using his "beyond category" music to articulate a vision of African American past and future.

Please note: this was Phil's first attempt at doing a solo podcast in far-from-ideal circumstances, and the sound is pretty unpolished in places. He got his act together for the later ones; go check them out at


Fred Waller (dir.), Symphony In Black - A Rhapsody of Negro Life
Duke Ellington, Black, Brown, and Beige
Dudley Murphy (dir.), Black and Tan Fantasy
John Howland, Ellington Uptown: Duke Ellington, James P. Johnson, and the Birth of Concert Jazz