Thursday Treat: ‘Caravan’ by Wes Montgomery
Around 1977, when I was about 7, I was allowed to stay up a little late on Saturday evenings to watch ‘Wie Van De Drie’, a Dutch version of the American quiz ‘To Tell The Truth’. This song was it’s openings tune, which I found extremely exciting and it still reminds me of shampooed hair, my pyjamas and tea. Plus the belief that if I sat really, really still, my parents would forget all about me and I could stay up really late.
'Caravan' was written in 1936 by Duke Ellington and Juan Tizol, a Puerto Rican trombonist and composer, who joined Ellington's band in 1929.
The original song (which has a very different time signature, as you can see here) is considered by some to be the first real Latin jazz tune, although it owes as much to ‘Middle Eastern’ melodies. Tizol immediately sold the rights to the song to Irving Mills, Ellington’s publisher and publicist, for $25, but Mills agreed to give the rights and royalties back to Tizol after the song became a success.
Nowadays, there are enough covers of ‘Caravan’ to play different versions for 24 hours straight.
Today’s version is from Wes Montgomery, from his album ‘Movin’ Wes’ (1964), his debut for Verve, after leaving Riverside Records. On Riverside he recorded mainly with small combo’s; on this record he is backed up by a superb, more than tight 12-piece, brass dominated mini big band consisting of multi-reed man Jerome Richardson, a trumpet section consisting of Clark Terry and Basie veterans Ernie Royal and Snooky Young, trombonists Urbie Green and Jimmy Cleveland and a rhythm section of pianist Bobby Scott, bassist Bob Cranshaw and drummer Grady Tate.
It was a bit of a commercial move by Montgomery, but then again: by then he had 6 kids to support.