East St. Louis Toodle-Oo

"East St Louis Toodle-Oo" (also "Toodle-O") is a composition written by Duke Ellington and Bubber Miley and recorded several times by Ellington for various labels from 1926-1930 under various titles.[1] This song was the first charting single for Duke Ellington in 1927 and was one of the main examples of his early "jungle music".[2] This composition was covered by Steely Dan on their 1974 album Pretzel Logic.

"East St. Louis Toodle-Oo"
Disc label to the 1927 release on Columbia Records.
Single by Duke Ellington and his Washingtonians
B-side"Hop Head"
Format78 RPM record
RecordedMarch 1927,
New York City, New York
Songwriter(s)Duke Ellington/Bubber Miley

Recording history

Ellington first recorded "Toodle-Oo" in November 1926 for Vocalion Records, which was released as Vo (1064). He recorded the composition twice more in early 1927 for Brunswick Records; the first version was not released at the time, but the second was released as Br (3480).[1] He recorded his hit version in March 1927 for Columbia Records, under the name "the Washingtonians". Along with recording "Toodle-Oo", two other compositions were recorded at the same session, "Hop Head" and "Down in Our Alley Blues", the former of which would be released as the B-side of Columbia 953-D.[3]

  • November 29, 1926 E-4110 Vocalion 1064
  • February 3, 1927 E-21636 E-21637 E-21538 Brunswick rejected
  • March 14, 1927 E-21872 Brunswick 3480, Brunswick 6801, Brunswick 80000, Vocalion 1064 (some later pressings)
  • March 22, 1927 W 143705-3 Columbia 953-D
  • December 19, 1927 41245-1 Victor 21703
  • December 19, 1927 41245-2 Victor 21703, Bluebird B-6430, Montgomery Ward M-4889
  • January 19, 1928 W 400032-A OKeh 8638 (as "Harlem Twist", by Lonnie Johnson's Harlem Footwarmers, which features Johnson on guitar)
  • March ?, 1928 2944-A and B Cameo 8182, Lincoln 2837, Romeo 612 (as The Washingtonians), and 108079-1 Pathe 36781, Perfect 14962 (as The Whoopee Makers) (identical to one of the takes of 2944)
  • April 3, 1930 150167-3 Diva 6046-G, Velvet Tone 7072-V (as Mills' Ten Black Berries)
  • February 9, 1932 71812-2 and 3 Victor L-16007 (33 1/3 10" long playing transcription, first part of a 3 song medley)
  • March 5, 1937 M-180-1 Master MA-101, Brunswick m7989 (as "The New East St. Louis Toodle-O")
  • February 7, 1956 Bethlehem Be BCP-60


"East St. Louis Toodle-Oo" features a growling plunger-muted trumpet part played by co-composer Bubber Miley, one of the first jazz trumpeters to utilize the style.[3] This style was carried on by later Ellington trumpeters Cootie Williams (1937 recording),[4] and Ray Nance (1956 recording).

For Steely Dan's 1974 cover of the song, Walter Becker sang the melody through a talk box to imitate Miley's trumpet style, while Jeff "Skunk" Baxter used a pedal steel guitar for the trombone part.[5]


  1. 1924-1930 Ellingtonia. Duke Ellington Discography. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
  2. Duke Ellington: East St. Louis Toodle-Oo (OKeh) Archived 2010-12-26 at the Wayback Machine. Jazz.com. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
  3. Dance, Stanley. Liner notes to The OKeh Ellington. Columbia/Legacy Records, 1991.
  4. Williams, Martin (1973). The Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution. p. 30.
  5. rockongoodpeople (18 June 2015). "Jeff Skunk Baxter talks Doobies Steely Dan Jeff Beck Eric Johnson clinic at Sweetwater Gearfest 2015" via YouTube.
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