Duke Ellington on the Whole World Going Oriental

Duke Ellington went rock and began taking on musical influences from around the world on his ridiculously good The Afro-Eurasian Eclipse. Not only is the album a landmark of reinvention, it begins with a startlingly mad and entertaining Duke monologue, one so good I’ve transcribed it for posterity below:

This is really this chinoiserie. Last year, we, about this time, we premiered a new suite titled The Afro-Eurasian Eclipse. And of course the title was inspired by a statement made by a Mr. Marshall McLuhan of the University of Toronto. Mr. McLuhan says that the whole world is going oriental and that no one will be able to retain his or her identity, not even the orientals. And of course, we travel around the world, a lot, and in the last five or six years we too have noticed this thing to be true. So as a result, we have done a sort of a thing, a parallel or something, and we’d like to play a little piece of it for you.

In this particular segment, ladies and gentlemen, we have adjusted our perspective to that of the kangaroo and the didgeridoo. This automatically throws us either down under and/or out back, and from that point of view it’s most improbable that anyone will ever know exactly who is enjoying the shadow of whom.

Harold Ashby has been inducted into the responsibility and the obligation of possibly scraping off a tiny bit of the charisma of his chinoiserie, immediately after our piano player has completed his rikki-tikki.

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