Duke Ellington & His Orchestra

Isfahan

Song Review by

“Isfahan” is one movement of “The Far East Suite,” the final major collaboration by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, and also its most memorable piece. Although the complete work didn’t emerge as a totally finished project until near the end of 1966, “Isfahan” was actually premiered in concert by Ellington in early 1964. This slow, lyrical ballad, named for a Persian city, focuses on alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges. Although this beautiful piece deserved to become a part of Ellington’s band book, once work was completed on the album The Far East Suite, it was performed on only one more occasion. The master take from that recording is easily the best interpretation. Among the many musicians who have since released their own arrangements of “Isfahan,” some of the noteworthy versions include those by Gary Burton, Bill Charlap, Art Farmer, Marian McPartland, Jimmy Rowles, Roland Hanna, Lew Tabackin, Warren Vache, and Phil Woods.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Duke Ellington's Far East Suite 1967 Bluebird 4:11