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Such Sweet Thunder

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Title: Such Sweet Thunder  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Duke Ellington, Johnny Hodges, Anatomy of a Murder, 1957 in music, Clark Terry, Billy Strayhorn, Ray Nance, Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Duke Ellington Song Book
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Such Sweet Thunder

Such Sweet Thunder
Duke Ellington and his Orchestra
Released April 1957 or May 1957
Recorded August 7, 1956 – May 3, 1957
Genre Jazz
Length 76:25
Label Columbia/Legacy
Producer Irving Townsend - Original Recording
Phil Schaap - Reissue
Duke Ellington and his Orchestra chronology

Studio Sessions, Chicago 1956
Such Sweet Thunder
Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Duke Ellington Songbook
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[1]

Such Sweet Thunder is a Duke Ellington album, released in 1957 (see 1957 in music). The record is a twelve part suite based on the work of William Shakespeare.

Track listing

  1. "Such Sweet Thunder" (Ellington, Strayhorn) - 3:22
  2. "Sonnet for Caesar" (Ellington, Strayhorn) - 3:00
  3. "Sonnet to Hank Cinq" (Ellington, Strayhorn) - 1:24
  4. "Lady Mac" (Ellington, Strayhorn) - 3:41
  5. "Sonnet in Search of a Moor" (Ellington, Strayhorn) - 2:22
  6. "The Telecasters" (Ellington, Strayhorn) - 3:05
  7. "Up and Down, Up and Down (I Will Lead Them Up and Down)" (Ellington, Strayhorn) - 3:09
  8. "Sonnet for Sister Kate" (Ellington, Strayhorn) - 2:24
  9. "The Star-Crossed Lovers" (Ellington, Strayhorn) - 4:00
  10. "Madness in Great Ones" (Ellington, Strayhorn) - 3:26
  11. "Half the Fun" (Also known as "Lately") (Ellington, Strayhorn) - 4:19
  12. "Circle of Fourths" (Ellington, Strayhorn) - 1:45

Bonus tracks

  1. "The Star-Crossed Lovers" (Also known as "Pretty Girl") (Ellington, Strayhorn) - 4:15
  2. "Circle of Fourths" (Ellington, Strayhorn) - 1:47
  3. "Suburban Beauty" (Ellington) - 2:56
  4. "A-Flat Minor" (Ellington) - 2:33
  5. "Café au Lait" (Ellington, Strayhorn) - 2:49
  6. "Half the Fun" (Alternate take) (Ellington, Strayhorn) - 4:08
  7. "Suburban Beauty" (Alternate take) (Ellington) - 2:56
  8. "A-Flat Minor" (Outtake) (Ellington) - 3:49
  9. "Café au Lait" (Ellington, Strayhorn) - 6:21
  10. "Pretty Girl" (Also known as the "Star-Crossed Lovers") (Outtake) (Ellington, Strayhorn) - 8:54

On all LP issues of this album and the French Columbia CD #COL 469140 2, there is a different take of the piece, Up and Down, Up and Down (I Will Lead Them Up and Down). On this original version, Clark Terry ends it by talking through his trumpet, "Lord, what fools these mortals be."

Production/reissue credits



  • Irving Townsend - Liner Notes, Original Recording Producer
  • Phil Schaap - Liner Notes, Reissue Producer, Remastering, Research, Restoration
  • Steven Berkowitz - A&R
  • Darren Salmieri - A&R
  • Mark Wilder - Digital Mastering
  • Howard Fritzson - Art Direction
  • Don Hunstein - Photography
  • Randall Martin - Design
  • Juliana Myrick - Package Manager

Critical Reception

NPR has included this album on their Basic Jazz Record Library.[2] The Penguin Guide to Jazz gave the album 4 stars (out of a possible 4.) Allmusic gave the album 4.5 out of 5 stars.


Bibliography (further reading)

Contemporary reviews and journalism

  • “Ellington Suite to Bow April 28” New York Times. 15 April 1957.
  • Parmenter, Ross. “Music: Weill and the Duke.” New York Times 29 April 1957.
  • “New Ellington Suite Hailed By Coast-to-Coast Audience.” Daily Defender. 2 July 1957.
  • Wilson, John S. “Duke Bounces Back With Provocative Work.” New York Times. 13 Oct. 1957. esp 113
  • Wilson, John S. “Jazz: Ellington.” New York Times 13 October 1957.

Historical and analytical writings (in reverse chronological order)

  • Bradbury, David. Duke Ellington. London: Haus, 2005. Esp. pp. 91.
  • Lanier, Douglas. “To Be-Bop or Not to Be-Bop; Minstrelsy, Jazz, Rap: Shakespeare, African American Music, and Cultural Legitimation.” Borrowers and Lenders: The Journal of Shakespeare and Appropriation Vol. 1, 2005 [no pagination].
  • Buhler, Stephen M. “Form and Character in Duke Ellington’s and Billy Strayhorn’s Such Sweet Thunder.” Borrowers and Lenders: The Journal of Shakespeare and Appropriation Vol. 1, 2005 [no pagination].
  • Nicholson, Stuart. Reminiscing in Tempo: A Portrait of Duke Ellington. Northeastern University Press, 1999, esp. pp. ???-???.
  • Lambert, Eddie. Duke Ellington: A Listener’s Guide. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 1999. Esp. pp. 193–194.
  • Kernfeld, Barry. New Grove Dictionary of Jazz. St. Martin’s Press, 1994. esp 331
  • Hasse, John Edward. Beyond Category: The Life and Genius of Duke Ellington. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993.
  • Tucker, Mark. The Duke Ellington Reader. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. Esp. pp. 321, 441. esp. pp. 339–341, 393
    • Harrison, Max. “Max Harrison: Some Reflections on Ellington’s Longer Works. The Duke Ellington Reader. Tucker, Mark, ed. (esp. pg.393).
    • Crouch, Stanley. “Stanley Crouch on Such Sweet Thunder, Suite Thursday, and Anatomy of a Murder.” The Duke Ellington Reader. Tucker, Mark, ed. (esp. 339, 441).
  • Hasse, John. Beyond Category: The Life and Genius of Duke Ellington. New York: Simon & Schuster. 1993. Esp. pp. 331–333, 362.
  • Timmer, W.E. Ellingtonia: The recorded music of Duke Ellington and his sidemen. Metuchen, N.J.: Institute of Jazz Studies: Scarecrow Press, 1988. Esp. pp. 450.
  • Marsalis, Wynton. “What Jazz is and Isn’t.” New York Times. 31, July 1988.
  • Ellington, Mercer. Duke Ellington in Person: An Intimate Memoir. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1978. Esp. pp. 117.
  • Ellington, Duke. Music is My Mistress. New York: Da Capo Press, 1976, c1973. Esp. pp. 192.
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