Tales from the Territory: “Warm Valley”: Duke Ellington in Oregon, by Lynn Darroch

Lynn Darroch’s eloquent word portrait of Duke Ellington in Oregon captures some of of the bittersweet contradictions that inhabit this beautiful place.  I’m looking forward to reading more of them in his upcoming book “Rhythm in the Rain – Jazz in the Pacific Northwest.”

Duke Elllington, who first played in Portland, Oregon, in 1933, soon after began renting private railcars for his band and baggage in order to be free from onerous lodging restrictions in a segregated America. According to Rex Stewart, he wrote the tune, “Warm Valley,” while traveling by train through the Willamette Valley. This is the story … recorded at InStepMusic by Jonathan Swanson, with Clay Giberson, piano, and John Nastos, alto sax.