THE QUEEN'S SUITE
Duke Ellington met Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth after performing at the Leeds Festival of Music in 1958. Introduced to her and other dignitaries at the reception, he was so bowled over by her charm that, on returning home to the USA, he set about writing a suite in honour of her. He paid privately for the recording sessions such that he could have only a single pressing of the LP made in 1959, and had this sent directly to Buckingham Palace.
The six descriptive pieces of pieces act as a metophor for the qualities of "beauty, splendour and majesty" that Duke saw in Queen Elizabeth II. Each piece describes a wonder of the natural world to act as a parallel to those qualities. As such, the suite is a far cry from the swing and vibrant jazz one might imagine, and is more akin to Duke's other remarkable descriptive suite Such Sweet Thunder, which uses the jazz idiom to describe Shakespearean characters. The Queen's Suite is a most beautiful tribute to Her Majesty and a most remarkable romantic gesture by Duke. The suite was not heard in its entirety until 1976, two years after Duke Ellington's death when it was finally available commercially.