Yesterday, my brother, my aunt and I were picking music for my mother’s funeral.
She really liked Duke Ellington – it kind of runs in the family (although maybe it just runs in people that like music?), and for my father’s funeral (twenty years ago), she had In A Sentimental Mood played. So we thought we’d go for some Ellington, and if we had found a decent version of In A Sentimental Mood played by Ellington, we’d probably have picked that. (I have seven recordings of In A Sentimental Mood on my iPod; but none of them are by Ellington! My favourite is by Michel Petrucciani – not this version, but close…).
I remembered that when my mother travelled, she always took a cassette of Ellington’s Suites, which included a very beautiful, wistful tune called The Single Petal Of A Rose, and I lobbied for that, whilst my brother was pushing for Lotus Blossom, from the memorial to Billy Strayhorn, “And His Mother Called Him Bill”. (Actually, my brother really wanted Blood Count, but that was vetoed on the grounds of possible bad taste.)
There are two versions of Lotus Blossom on that recording, one solo and one alternate take with Johnny Hodges joining in at the end. It was the last one we decided we wanted.
I have just had a phone call from my brother; he was clearing out my mother’s desk, and he found a scribbled note that said “Duke Ellington Lotus Blossom – alternate take”. We reckoned she must have been listening to the radio, heard it, and made a note of it.
It is rather nice to have got that right!