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Take Two

Jump For Joy


Take Two


In 1941, Duke Ellington wrote a stage revue that opened at the Majan Theatre in Los Angeles on 10th July. With the title Jump for Joy it ran for nine weeks with 122 performances.

It was particularly significant, as totally different to other revues of that time, it was very outspoken about racial issues, as we can see from the lyrics to the title song. Other songs included Same Old South ("It's a regular children's heaven / Where they don't start to work until they're seven"); I Got A Passport From Georgia (And I'm Going to The USA) ("Goodbye Jim / And I do mean Crow") and UncleTom's Cabin Is a Drive-In Now as well as the Standard I've Got It Bad And That Ain't Good.

The production team received protestations and death threats but Duke Ellington described it later in his life as "the first 'social significance' show".


Fare thee well land of cotton.
Cotton lisle is out of style,
Honey chile
Jump for Joy


Duke Ellington at Mayan Theatre


However, the musical also received rave reviews, and apparently Orson Welles and Charlie Chaplin considered buying the show, but were refused, 'as the show was collaborative in nature and the writers did not want it to be owned.' Despite its original success, "it never made it to Broadway, but it made it to history".

You can read much more about the show here, including: '...The inspiration came from a late-night party, a convergence of Hollywood glamour and nascent civil-rights activism with one of America's greatest jazz orchestras. In the summer of 1941, as Americans warily regarded a world war that seemed to be edging ever closer to their shores, Duke Ellington staged what he would later call "the first 'social significance' show," Jump for Joy. Jump for Joy was an all-black musical revue that Ellington said "would take Uncle Tom out of the theater and say things that would make the audience think." It featured the Ellington orchestra in its so-called "Blanton-Webster" years, playing at the peak of its powers, and up-and-coming African-Americanperformers such as the actress Dorothy Dandridge, the blues singer Big Joe Turner, and the comedian Wonderful Smith. The poet Langston Hughes contributed a sketch entitled "Mad Scene From Woolworth's," and Ellington collaborator Billy Strayhorn took a significant hand in scoring the show......'



Here is a brief documentary with one of the writers, Sid Kuller, and Duke Ellington talking about the show.





Don't you grieve little Eve
All the hounds I do believe
Have been killed
Ain't 'cha thrilled?
Jump for Joy


The first of our two 'Takes' features the popular UK clarinettist Adrian Cox with Denny Ilett (guitar), David Newton (piano) and Ferg Ireland (double bass) playing Jump For Joy in a live stream from Gun Hill studios in August 2020:




Have you seen pastures groovy?
Green pastures was just a technicolor movie

Our second 'Take' is big band version by Tarpon Springs Jazz Ensemble from April 2020. (click here). This is a virtual recording of the sort we have seen during the Coronavirus outbreak. These videos cannot be easy to edit and put together but they have achieved the 'joy' of the tunes title and there are some interesting performances - check out the scat singer. The Tarpon Springs Jazz Ensemble is one of five nationally accomplished performance ensembles within the Tarpon Springs Leadership Conservatory for the Arts in Florida. What started out as an after-school program 26 years ago has developed into a daily in-school curricular performance ensemble and combo that performs over 20 times a year. They say: "This project wasn't about performing perfectly. It was about coming together and creating music again as a musical family and giving our students something to strive for. Each student performed and recorded themselves on their phones or computers. The audio and video was mixed and edited by one our senior students, Sammy Hanson with guidance from our director, Mr. De León. Recording in this manner presents all sorts of challenges. But it was all worth it to be together again even if just through a video screen."





When you stomp up to heaven and you meet old Saint Pete
Tell that boy
"Jump for joy"
Step right in
Give Pete some skin and
Jump for Joy


Jump For Joy poster



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Other pages you might find of interest :

More Take Two
Tracks Unwrapped
Video Juke Box
Jazz As Art

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