As annoying as it often is, the idle chit chat could occasionally be informative and even lead to an interesting conversation.
I certainly experienced this rarity during our recent Yard Sale. At the end of the day while my sisters and I were packing up, a gentleman came by and started looking around. Slowly but surely, we became engaged in a little conversation about -well- nothing. This went on for a couple of minutes until he came upon some hand made items on the table from Iran. He asked about their origin and once he found out they were made in Isfahan (Esfahan), he asked us if we have ever been there. “Lived there? We practically grew up there.”, was our reply. Then it was our turn to question him, “how do you know of Isfahan?”
He told us that he was a musician and that Isfahan is the title of one of Duke Ellington’s compositions. He made us promise to look it up and listen to it.
I am happy to say that I have lived up to my promise. Here is a summary of what I found out:
“One of the last collaborations of Ellington and his musical soul mate Billy Strayhorn, Isfahan was part of the major composition Far East Suite, based on impressions from the band’s 1963 tour of the Middle and Far East as musical ambassadors sponsored by the U.S. State Department. (Isfahan, or Esfahan, is a city in Iran about 180 miles south of Tehran.) In an interview, Duke makes clear he did not want to simply copy or be too directly influenced by the music of the East. “It’s more valuable to have absorbed it [the music and the area and its culture] while there. You let it roll around, undergo a chemical change, and then seep out on paper in a form that will suit the musicians who are going to play it.” He did indeed; this track is best characterized as a tone poem that transcends jazz—”beyond category,” as Duke preferred to think of much of his music.”
I listened to the track and liked it a whole lot. In fact, so much so that I am ordering the CD.
Judge for yourself! Here it is- Duke Ellington’s Isfahan:
© 2010, livingamused. All rights reserved.