Caravan Variations

Like camels slogging through the sand, the exotic strains of “Caravan,” by Duke Ellington and his sometime trombonist Juan Tizol (with rarely heard lyrics by Irving Mills), have been played loose, fast, swinging, and/or slow by just about everyone. For this New Sounds program, it’s another of the occasional series of programs of Theme and Variations, where the premise is simple: take a single piece of music and explore what a number of musicians have done with it, through arrangements, deconstructions, and revisions of the original theme. This time around, it’s Duke Ellington’s “Caravan.” Listen to arrangements by Romania’s Fanfare Ciocarlia, Hungary’s Kalman Balogh & The Gipsy Cimbalom Band, the California Guitar Trio, the ska group Hepcat, banjoman Bela Fleck, Lebanese composer Rabih Abou-Khalil, and trumpeter/composer Jon Hassell, among others.

PROGRAM # 2436, Theme & Variations : Caravan (First aired on Fri. 7/8/05)





Duke Ellington

The Complete RCA Victor Mid-Forties Recordings (1944-1946)

Caravan, excerpt [1:30]

RCA #63394
Available for purchase at* or download from iTunes

Vic Wooten

Live, BAM 11/26/96

Caravan [1:00]

Not commercially available.

Bela Fleck & the Flecktones

Live, New Sounds, 12/01/92

Caravan [4:00]

Not commercially available. Fleck’s CDs are readily available in stores and online.

California Guitar Trio

With Tony Levin

Caravan [4:00]

Pepe Paldo #9001*

Jon Hassell


Caravanesque [7:00]

Water Lily Acoustics #70

Fanfare Ciocarlia

Gili Garabdi

Caravan [4:30]

Asphalt Tango#0605

Rabih Abou-Khalil

Roots & Sprouts

Caravan [5:30]

MMP/Enja #170890

Kalman Balogh & The Gipsy Cimbalom Band


Caravan [3:30]

Folk europa #007

Various artists: The Roots

Red Hot + Indigo

Caravan [5:30]

The Red Hot Organization 13-IND


Out of Nowhere

Caravan (Skaravan) [3:00]

Moon #032** Out of print, but re-released on Epitaph Records in 2004.
More info about the band at

Brian Setzer Orchestra


Caravan [2:00]

Interscope #064907332**