Who does not love listening to Duke Ellington’s classic tune Caravan? I know I do and with its driving rhythm and ample opportunity for noodling one never tires of hearing a new version. The tune was written by Ellington and Juan Tizol in the 1930’s. Here they (Ellington – piano, Tizol – valve trombone) are performing it in the 1950’s…
The Mills Brothers vocalised it..
..and countless others have created their own variations…
The Carpenters (Karen drumming)…
and Gene Krupa
…and it was featured in the recent film Whiplash
Such was the tunes popularity that bands were often requested to play it. Frank Zappa alludes to such a request on the first Mothers of Invention‘s album Freak Out! in the song You’re Probably Wondering Why I’m Here and again in America Drinks & Goes Home on their next album Absolutely Free.
One may surmise just which Caravan with a drum solo was being referenced in the request. As John French recalled “Every lounge act in the sixties played Caravan with a drum solo. It was as standard as Louie Louie later became and achieved the status of a “running joke.” and Zappa related the origin of the quote “When we worked at a gig in El Monte some drunken buffoon in the audience requested it: ‘I wanna hear Caravan with a drum solo!’ There are certain things you remember from your career, like that line.”
But for my money it could only have been the definitive version of Caravan with a drum solo by The Ventures recorded live in Japan in 1965