Written in 1936 by the Puerto Rican trombonist Juan Tizol (1900-1984), member of Duke Ellington’s band, this exotic little piece is considered one of the first examples of “Latin Jazz”. The Latin influences are easy to hear but sometimes we could also perhaps hear some middle-eastern influences, which, with its title “Caravan” may not be pure imagination. The smooth, sinuous melody can easily evoke images of snake charmers and belly dancers. The fact that it has been commercially recorded over 350 times by different groups and in a huge variety of arrangements is testimony not only to its timeless magical attractiveness but also to the enormous versatility of the jazz style which lends itself to an infinity of different interpretations.
We play this piece here in the key of C minor, which allows us to play it comfortably in both the lower and higher octave. For an “Easier Version” just repeat the first verse (which is in the lower octave) instead of playing the (higher-octave) second verse.
And here below is a play-along accompaniment: