Caravan was written in 1932 by trombonist Juan Tizol and Duke Ellington, with lyrics by Irving Mills. It is said that while Tizol was in Duke’s band, he came up with the idea for the tune, and they completed the rest of it together. Barney Bigard and His Jazzopaters were the first to record the tune, but months later Duke Ellington and His Orchestra recorded the piece and it became a hit. Irving Mills wrote the lyrics but also managed the label on which it was first recorded. Mills gave Tizol a flat-fee royalty of $25 for Caravan, however when the piece became a hit, Tizol requested additional royalties of which he was granted. Of course not only did Ellington’s band perform the piece but many other of the orchestras of that period. It has become a popular standard, and important to know.
This tune is most commonly played in the key of F minor.