With the passing away of Toots Thielemans on August 22, it seems appropriate to start our series “Interpreting Ellington” with Thieleman’s interpretations of Sophisticated Lady given together with Jaco Pastorius.

The first occasion they played together was apparently the Berliner Jazztage in November 1979. At a a press conference, Pastorius was asked who of the musicians at the festival he foremost would like to play with. And his answer was Toots Thielemans.

So they performed “Sophisticated Lady” together. It is not the most common interpretation of the song but it shows how creative musicians can find new angles into Ellington’s music.

Three years later they played “Sophisticated Lady” together again – this time. It is interesting to compare the two versions. Pastorius seems to take a more dominant role in the second one.

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