Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington April 29, — May 24, was an American composer, pianist, and leader of a jazz orchestra, which he led from until his death over a career spanning more than fifty years. Born in Washington, D. In the s, his orchestra toured in Europe. Although widely considered to have been a pivotal figure in the history of jazz, Ellington embraced the phrase "beyond category" as a liberating principle and referred to his music as part of the more general category of American Music rather than to a musical genre such as jazz.
Some of the jazz musicians who were members of Ellington's orchestra, such as saxophonist Johnny Hodges, are considered to be among the best players in the idiom.
Ellington melded them into the best-known orchestral unit in the history of jazz. Some members stayed with the orchestra for several decades. A master at writing miniatures for the three-minute 78 rpm recording format, Ellington wrote more than one thousand compositions; his extensive body of work is the largest recorded personal jazz legacy, with many of his pieces having become standards.
According to UCLA magazine:. On the day of the concert, Ellington accidentally mixed up the venues and drove to USC instead.
He eventually arrived at the UCLA campus and, to apologize for his tardiness, played to the packed crowd for more than four hours. And so, "Sir Duke" and his group played the first-ever jazz performance in a concert venue. The Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition and Festival is a nationally renowned annual competition for prestigious high school bands.
Started in at Jazz at Lincoln Center , the festival is named after Ellington because of the large focus that the festival places on his works. After Duke died, his son Mercer took over leadership of the orchestra, continuing until his own death in Like the Count Basie Orchestra , this "ghost band" continued to release albums for many years. Mercer Ellington had been handling all administrative aspects of his father's business for several decades.
Mercer's children continue a connection with their grandfather's work. Ellington composed incessantly to the very last days of his life. Music was indeed his mistress; it was his total life and his commitment to it was incomparable and unalterable. In jazz he was a giant among giants. And in twentieth century music, he may yet one day be recognized as one of the half-dozen greatest masters of our time.
Martin Williams said: "Duke Ellington lived long enough to hear himself named among our best composers. And since his death in , it has become not at all uncommon to see him named, along with Charles Ives , as the greatest composer we have produced, regardless of category.
In the opinion of Bob Blumenthal of The Boston Globe in "[i]n the century since his birth, there has been no greater composer, American or otherwise, than Edward Kennedy Ellington. His compositions have been revisited by artists and musicians around the world both as a source of inspiration and a bedrock of their own performing careers. There are hundreds of albums dedicated to the music of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn by artists famous and obscure.
Sophisticated Ladies , an award-winning musical revue, incorporated many tunes from Ellington's repertoire. A second Broadway musical interpolating Ellington's music, Play On! Ellington earned 14 Grammy awards from to , three of which were posthumous and a total of 24 nominations. Recordings of Duke Ellington were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame , which is a special Grammy award established in to honor recordings that are at least 25 years old, and that have qualitative or historical significance.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. American composer, pianist and jazz orchestra leader. Jazz swing. Bandleader musician composer. Play media. Main article: Duke Ellington discography. Retrieved January 26, He claimed there were only two types of music, 'good' and 'bad' And he embraced a phrase coined by his colleague Billy Strayhorn — 'beyond category' — as a liberating principle.
The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved December 3, With reprint of short biography and list of works selected. University of Chicago Press. Current Biography. Wilson Company. Los Angeles Sentinel. Retrieved July 14, Autumn The Journal of African American History. Retrieved February 2, — via Myspace.
Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved February 2, Duke Ellington , Creative Age Press, Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Retrieved September 15, The Guardian. Retrieved December 5, Billy Strayhorn Songs. University of North Carolina — Chapel Hill. Archived from the original on June 22, Archived from the original on July 7, Retrieved December 31, The Encyclopedia of New York.
New Haven: Yale University Press. Theory Jazz. Archived from the original on September 3, The American Musical Landscape. Berkeley: University of California Press. The Daily Telegraph. December 26, Retrieved December 14, Stars and Stripes. August 20, Da Capo Press.
Detroit Free Press. Archived from the original on February 12, Retrieved February 23, Giddins says that Ellington was denied the Music Pulitzer because the jury commended him for his body of work rather than for a particular composition, but his posthumous Pulitzer was granted precisely for that life-long body of work.
The Duke Ellington Society. May 24, Archived from the original on November 12, Archived from the original on August 10, Retrieved August 26, Northern Illinois University.
Archived from the original on June 25, Scarecrow Press. February 2, Retrieved October 13, Retrieved November 10, Alpha Phi Alpha. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 31, Duke Ellington. Haus Publishing. Felix E. Grant Digital Collection. Archived from the original on January 15, Mathilde D. Williams to Felix Grant, September 21, ". February 24, Archived from the original on August 21, Retrieved October 3, Coins and Medals.
District of Columbia. Recording Academy. May 22, Retrieved April 12, Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books. Retrieved March 21, The New York Times. Retrieved June 28, Archived from the original on January 22, The Washington Post. Center for Jazz Arts.
Archived from the original on May 18, Archived from the original on January 30, Howard University. Yale University. Archived from the original on May 21, Duke Ellington discography.
Harlem Jazz, Ellingtonia, Vol. One Ellingtonia, Vol. Serenade to Sweden First Time! Sacred Concerts Jam Session.
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I am a fairly recent fan of the great Duke Ellington. While as a musician I have been aware of his work for a long time, as I age I find myself joyously investigating music of the past, and I can honestly state that being a fan of so much styles of music, from rock and roll to classic rock and heavy metal, not to mention pop the good stuff like The Beatles, The Cars, etc.
It is an extreme pleasure to find these masters, and finding out just how good they are, and affordable to boot.
Perhaps it's the legendary Kenny Burrell, probably Ellington's most knowledgable fan and the Duke's stated favorite guitar player, who made me curious enough to start listening to one of America's greatest composers. There are a few cuts that are well known by themselves: "Take The "A" Train", the big hit "Perdido" and "The Mooch", with its very cool cascading clarinet crescendos providing a timeless hook.
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