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Ha, see what I did there?

Anyway, something was bothering me tonight while I was looking over the changes for I Got It Bad while at a jam session (we didn't play it, and I didn't call it entirely because of this conundrum).

The original key is Concert G, and that seems to be what most of the fake books have it in. However I transcribed the version Hodges played at Newport in 1956, and I could swear he's playing up a minor third (as written the first three notes are — transposed for alto — A#2 - B 2- C#3. However it sounds like Hodges is playing C#2 - D2 - E3) which would put it in Concert Bb. I've been trying to track down a transcription to cross-check my ear without much luck.

Am I hearing that right, and when Hodges plays it they do it in Bb instead of the standard G?
 

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It is entirely feasible that Hodges/Dukes band played it in 'another key'. I have an album (Live)on vinyl that opens as usual with 'Take The A Train', after a minute or two Duke winds this up and introduces Ray Nance who does a vocal and a violin solo ! with much encouragement from Duke "A Train Ab" !.... so... two 'A Trains' in different keys in the space of a few minutes no messing about-those guys were good!!
 

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Just play it in whatever key fits the singer.

For pop and jazz tunes there is no one "right" key. You play it in whatever key is convenient, according to a whole bunch of factors. Probably the biggest factor is "signature licks" that you don't want to break the line because of running off the bottom or top of the instrument, or that use a bunch of open strings on guitar or bass and would be very difficult to play without those.

The older the tune, the more recordings in different keys you'll be able to find if you do some digging.
 

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It is entirely feasible that Hodges/Dukes band played it in 'another key'. I have an album (Live)on vinyl that opens as usual with 'Take The A Train', after a minute or two Duke winds this up and introduces Ray Nance who does a vocal and a violin solo ! with much encouragement from Duke "A Train Ab" !.... so... two 'A Trains' in different keys in the space of a few minutes no messing about-those guys were good!!
If you listen to the recordings from the 1950s with Louis Armstrong and Velma Middleton, they very often change keys back and forth between the "his" verses and the "hers" verses due to vocal range restrictions. I have one record that has a bunch of the studio chatter included and you can hear a bit of how Armstrong took charge and told everyone what to play. "Arranging" the tune took him about 15 seconds during which he gave everyone their directions, then they just played the tune. (As an aside, anyone who thinks of Louis Armstrong as just a "Teeth and Rolling Eyes" buffoonish character, TOTALLY misses the drive, ambition, and intelligence of the man.)
 

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If you listen to the recordings from the 1950s with Louis Armstrong and Velma Middleton, they very often change keys back and forth between the "his" verses and the "hers" verses due to vocal range restrictions. I have one record that has a bunch of the studio chatter included and you can hear a bit of how Armstrong took charge and told everyone what to play. "Arranging" the tune took him about 15 seconds during which he gave everyone their directions, then they just played the tune. (As an aside, anyone who thinks of Louis Armstrong as just a "Teeth and Rolling Eyes" buffoonish character, TOTALLY misses the drive, ambition, and intelligence of the man.)
Nice anecdote about Pops! yes he was totally on top of his game.
 

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Yes, G was Ellington's original key; I've also got a printed version in F…
 
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