From Inside the Ellington Band by Nat Hentoff (October, 2006):
“I think,” says trombonist Walter van de Leur about the arrangements of Duke and his alter ego, Billy Strayhorn, “what made the music sound so very special was that you could be the second trombone and have the evening of your life.” Another trombonist, Art Baron, adds that in all the other bands he played in, “I felt like anybody could sit in that chair.” But the way Duke and Strayhorn wrote, “it really mattered what your personality was. You had to have an individual sound in your horn.”
In Stanley Crouch’s new book, Considering Genius: Writings on Jazz (Basic Books)—which will have a permanent place in the canon of jazz criticism—Stanley recalls “Ellington saying that when he heard a particular note, he always had to decide whose note it should be.”
“A man’s sound,” Duke explained to me long ago, “is his total personality. I hear that sound as I prepare to write, and that’s how I am able to write.” Accordingly, as Stanley Crouch continues, “A given note in Ellington’s three-trombone section could have at least as many different colors as players.”
And during the American Jazz Institute reunion, Art Baron, citing Billy Strayhorn’s arrangement of the standard, “Laura,” says that playing second trombone on that arrangement, “it feels amazing. You feel vibrations in your body. It wasn’t just a note. I heard a story.” And Art Baron was in that story.
And from the album Duke Ellington presents... on the Bethlehem label, here is Laura: