(music: Duke Ellington/Juan Tizol; words: Irving Mills)

Original version(s)


FZ album(s) in which song has appeared


Tour(s) on which song is known to have been performed (main source: FZShows, v. 7.1)



Foggy G, "The Songs That Were Played," We're Only In It For The Touring

1972: At the request of a hip audience member, the band performs a short rendition of this tune at the 11/11 early show, complete with drum solo. After the drummer gets a little, the band jumps headfirst into a very festive and somewhat chaotic rendition of "When the Saints Go Marching In."

1974: Yes, with a drum solo, though its not much of a drum solo as the entire performance only lasts about 30 seconds A one-time-only event for this tour (7/21/74).

Marc De Bruyn (, September 5, 2003

"Caravan" was written by pianist, bandleader, composer Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington (1899-1974), Juan Tizol (1900-1984), and Irving Mills (1894-1985).

"Caravan" was usually the second number played when the Ellington band performed. "Caravan" 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.

"Night and stars above that shine so bright / The myst'ry of their fading light / That shines upon our caravan / Sleep upon my shoulder as we creep / Across the sand so I may keep / The mem'ry of our caravan / This is so exciting / You are so inviting / Resting in my arms / As I thrill to the magic charms / Of you beside me here beneath the blue / My dream of love is coming true / Within our desert caravan!"

Recorded by many artists: Art Pepper, Benny Goodman, Big Jay McNeely, Bill Haley, Billy Eckstine, Chet Atkins, Dave Brubeck, Dinah Washington, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Freddie Hubbard, Harry James, Jimmy Smith, Joe Turner, Lawrence Welk, Les Paul, Mills Brothers, Nat King Cole, Oscar Peterson, Red Holloway, Roomful of Blues, Sarah Vaughan, Tito Puente, Woody Herman, Wynton Marsalis, ...

Ellington was recognized in his lifetime as one of the greatest jazz composers and performers. A genius for instrumental combinations, improvisation, and jazz arranging brought the world the unique "Ellington" sound that found consummate expression in works like "Mood Indigo", "Sophisticated Lady", and the symphonic suites "Black, Brown, and "Beige" (which he subtitled "a Tone Parallel to the History of the Negro in America") and "Harlem" ("a Tone Parallel to Harlem").

"Duke Ellington's pre-eminence in jazz is not only because of the very high aesthetic standard of his output, not simply due to his remarkable abilities as a pianist, composer and bandleader, but also to the fact that he has extended the boundaries of jazz more than any other musician, without abandoning the true essence of the music."—G. Eddie Lambert, "Duke Ellington", 1998, Scarecrow Press

Ellington would be among the first to focus on musical form and composition in jazz using ternary forms and "call-and-response" techniques in works like "Concerto for Cootie" (known in its familiar vocal version as "Do Nothin' till You Hear from Me") and "Cotton Tail" and classic symphonic devices in his orchestral suites. In this respect, he would influence the likes of Monk, Mingus, and Evans.

Juan Tizol, trombonist, joined Ellington's orchestra in 1929 and remained with him for the next 15 years; he was one of the exceptional instrumentalists who gave Ellington's band its remarkable range and virtuousity, particularly when combined with the Duke's genius for writing and arranging. In 1944, Tizol moved over to the Harry James orchestra. In 1951, Ellington enticed Tizol, along with the drummer Louis Bellson and alto saxophonist Willie Smith, back to his band, in what became known as "The Great James Raid". Tizol left the Ellington band two years later and retired from regular touring (he relied on studio work, particularly with Nelson Riddle and Frank Sinatra). Tizol wrote only a few tunes, most of them during his time with Ellington—and usually left the arrangements to Ellington; however, two of these songs have become standards in jazz and exotica: "Caravan" and "Perdido".

As with most of Ellington's own songs, Irving Mills provided the lyrics to "Caravan"—although the number of vocal performances of it can probably be counted on the fingers of one hand. Ellington and Mills collaborated on quite a number of tunes that became popular standards: "Mood Indigo", "Solitude", "It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)", "Sophisticated Lady", and many others (Mills, together Cab Calloway and Clarence Gaskill also wrote "Minnie The Moocher"). Mills was one of the first to record black and white musicians together, using twelve White musicians and the Duke Ellington Orchestra on a 12" 78 RPM disc performing "St. Louis Blues" on one side and a medley of songs called "Gems from Blackbirds of 1928" on the other side, himself singing with the Ellington Orchestra. Mills produced one picture for Twentieth Century Fox in 1943, "Stormy Weather" and starred jazz greats Lena Horne, Cab Calloway, Zutty Singleton, Fats Waller and the great jazz dancers the Nicholas Brothers and Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. Mills later became the head of the American Recording Company which is it's turn became Columbia Records.

Gisele Dubson, December 27, 2003

I just wanted to add that Bobby Darin did a wonderful version of it for his 1960 album This is Darin released by Atco.



Site maintained by Román García Albertos
This page updated: 2022-11-05