Musical Rivers

River summer landscape with bright blue sky and clouds.
Have you ever spent some time looking at a river? For an hour or so, just watching the water flow by?

I did this morning. It’s my last day in Alaska for the summer and my cabin is about 20 feet from the Nenana River so I decided to get to know it a little better. It’s pretty amazing what we can learn from river-watching. About nature but also about the human condition.

I was also reminded about some of the great “River” music that’s been recorded. My all-time favorite is Duke Ellington’s ballet, “The River.” You can get a taste for it in this video in which the dancers move to the orchestral version. But closer to my heart is Ellington’s own recording, which was only intended as a kind of “sketch.” Ellington composed this music towards the end of his life and I feel he transcended stylistic boundaries with it. Elements of jazz, classical, and world music are all united by something uniquely “Ellingtonian.” It is truly, as The Duke would say, “beyond category.”

Do you have any favorite “River Music” of your own? Let us know in the comments section so we can all listen to it too!

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