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"Cotton Tail" is a 1940 composition by Duke Ellington. It is based on the rhythm changes from George Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm". The first Ellington recording (2 May 1940) is notable for the driving tenor saxophone solo by Ben Webster. Originally an instrumental, "Cotton Tail" later had lyrics written for it by Ellington. Later, more lyrics were written, based on the 1940 recording, by Jon Hendricks, and recorded by Lambert, Hendricks and Ross.
Slide Hampton's arrangement of "Cotton Tail" on Dee Dee Bridgewater's 1997 album Dear Ella won him the Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) in 1998.
"Cotton Tail" is the theme song for "The Art of Jazz," a music history radio program hosted by Ken Wiley on KPLU-FM. Wiley plays Ellington's entire version of "Cotton Tail" both at the beginning and at the end of every show.
- The Duke Ellington Orchestra, May 2, 1940
- Ella Fitzgerald - Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Duke Ellington Songbook (1957)
- Harry James - Harry James And His New Swingin' Band (MGM SE-3778, 1959)
- Lambert, Hendricks and Ross - Everybody's Bopin' (August 6, 1959)
- Wes Montgomery - So Much Guitar (1961)
- Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington - Ella at Duke's Place (1965)
- Mel Tormé - Mel Tormé and the Marty Paich Dektette - In Concert Tokyo (1988)
- The Buddy Rich Big Band with Neil Peart - Burning for Buddy: A Tribute to the Music of Buddy Rich (1994)
- Dee Dee Bridgewater - Dear Ella (1997)
- Herbie Hancock - "Gershwin's World" (1998)
- The Duke Ellington Legacy Band, featuring Nancy Reed (vocals) (2007)
- Neil Peart - an excerpt is included in his drum solo "De Slagwerker" on Rush's live album Snakes & Arrows Live (2008)
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