Duke Ellington

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Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington (April 29, 1899 – May 24, 1974) was an American bandleader, composer and pianist, not only a towering figure in jazz, but often regarded as one the great composers of the 20th century. While his primary music genres were swing and orchestral jazz, the All Music Guide to Jazz book created a unique category for Ellington, "Beyond Category", due to his unwillingness to confine himself to a single musical style within jazz.

He began his career in New York City, with a residency at the Cotton Club from 1927 during which he developed the ideas of Don Redman and Fletcher Henderson and became instrumental in developing the Big Band sound that was to dominate the 1930s.

The contributions of lead trumpeter Bubber Miley helped define his 'jungle' sound in which the trumpet was made to 'speak' through skillful use of the mute, a style continued by Miley's successor Cootie Williams.

Later, Ellington's band absorbed the influence of the more swinging Count Basie band, whilst remaining true to his original conception of advanced arrangements. Many of his masterpieces were recorded around the time of World War Two.

Ellington continued recording up until his death in 1974, still producing innovative music into his seventies.

Notable albums

  • Liberian Suite (Columbia, 1948)
  • Great Times! (Riverside, 1950)
  • Masterpieces by Ellington (Columbia, 1951)
  • Ellington Uptown (Columbia, 1952)
  • The Duke Plays Ellington (Capitol, 1953)
  • Ellington '55 (Capitol, 1955)
  • Ellington Showcase (Capitol, 1955)
  • Ellington at Newport (Columbia, 1956)
  • Such Sweet Thunder (Columbia, 1957)
  • Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Duke Ellington Song Book (Verve, 1957; with Ella Fitzgerald)
  • Black, Brown and Beige (Columbia, 1958)
  • Newport 1958 (Columbia, 1958)
  • Jazz Party (Columbia, 1959)
  • Live at the Blue Note (Roulette, 1959)
  • Festival Session (Columbia, 1959)
  • Blues in Orbit (Columbia, 1960)
  • The Nutcracker Suite (Columbia, 1960)
  • Piano in the Background (Columbia, 1960)
  • Piano in the Foreground (Columbia, 1961)
  • First Time! The Count Meets the Duke (Columbia, 1961; with Count Basie)
  • Money Jungle (United Artists, 1962; with Charles Mingus)
  • Duke Ellington Meets Coleman Hawkins (Impulse, 1963; with Coleman Hawkins)
  • Duke Ellington & John Coltrane (Impulse, 1963; with John Coltrane)
  • Afro-Bossa (Reprise, 1963)
  • The Symphonic Ellington (Reprise, 1964)
  • Ellington '65 (Reprise, 1965)
  • Duke Ellington Plays Mary Poppins (Reprise, 1965)
  • Ellington '66 (Reprise, 1965)
  • Ella at Duke's Place (Verve, 1965; with Ella Fitzgerald)
  • Concert of Sacred Music (RCA, 1966)
  • The Far East Suite (Bluebird, 1967)
  • ...And His Mother Called Him Bill (Bluebird, 1967)
  • Francis A. & Edward K. (Reprise, 1968; with Frank Sinatra)
  • Second Sacred Concert (Prestige, 1968)
  • 70th Birthday Concert (Solid State, 1970)
  • New Orleans Suite (Atlantic, 1970)
  • This One's for Blanton! (Pablo, 1972; with Ray Brown)
  • It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing (Flying Dutchman, 1973)

External links