Smooth, high brow, faultless, sophisticated, American. All of these words describe the music that came out of the world of Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington as a composer, performer, and conductor. For fifty years he defined jazz in his own way with his superbly talented jazz orchestra, surviving the onslaught of bebop, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll. His discography includes over seventy hit records out of hundreds of releases spanning seven decades.
Ellington was born on this day in Washington, D. C., in 1899. He formed a band while in his teens and played the circuit in and around the nation's capital before moving to New York. There, his creative fervor and gentlemanly demeanor made him an influential force in the Harlem Renaissance. He was a star much appreciated in Europe as well as the United States by the mid '30s. His collaboration with the brilliant composer and arranger, Billy Strayhorn, later in that decade and again in the '60s enhanced his fame and helped him bridge gaps between jazz and other musical genres.
Ellington passed away almost forty years ago and with his passing the nation lost both a legendary technician at the piano and its strongest advocate for the American musical invention called jazz. To learn more about this extraordinary entertainer visit the Official Website of Jazz Legend Duke Ellington. The Duke Ellington Society website is another excellent information source, including the significant story of the contributions of Billy Strayhorn.
"It don't mean a thing" if OTR posts about music but fails to give his readers an opportunity to hear it. Here are some examples of the Ellington expression in action:
Simply an amazing force in American music history.