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Duke Ellington On the Road DVD

Robert Drew’s 1974 road flick/documentary On the Road with Duke Ellington gives us a close look at the bandleader in his later years, but the film only enjoyed a small print run on VHS and has been tough to find for some time. In May, Docurama will bring the movie back into print, releasing a DVD edition of On the Road.

Drew followed Ellington on tour in 1967, filming the concerts, getting rare footage of the Duke composing at the piano and talking about his career and what it feels like to be one of jazz’s most valuable players. Edited down to an hour-long window into the legend’s life in black-and-white, the footage is some of the most revealing we have on Ellington. Other familiar faces pop up during the film besides the great bandleader’s. Louis Armstrong, Johnny Hodges and Ellington’s son Mercer all make “guest appearances,” and the soundtrack is made up of Ellington’s hits: “Take the ‘A’ Train,” “Satin Doll,” “Sophisticated Lady,” etc.

Originally Published