Duke Ellington

Bandleader, composer, pianist Duke Ellington

Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington was an American composer, pianist, and big-band leader. Ellington wrote over 1,000 compositions. In the opinion of Bob Blumenthal of The Boston Globe "In the century since his birth, there has been no greater composer, American or otherwise, than Edward Kennedy Ellington. " A major figure in the history of jazz, Ellington's music stretched into various other genres, including blues, gospel, film scores, popular, and classical.
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Biography
Duke Ellington's personal information overview.
Deceased
24 May 1974
Death Place
New York City

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News
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Saturday's Calendar - Daily Pilot
Google News - over 6 years
The Duke Ellington Orchestra joins the Pacific Symphony for a concert of American music at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, 8808 Irvine Center Drive, Irvine. The concert begins at 8 pm, with the doors opening at 6. For more information, call (714)
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Live: What Happens When No-Wave Legend James Chance Plays in a Piano Bar - The L Magazine
Google News - over 6 years
Kurt Weill, Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus; a respectable smattering of acknowledged greats, selected by a man who's obviously been to a few piano bars (or a few hundred). Original compositions like “Blonde Ice” from last year's jazzy
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Georgetown Notebook | Some history and some upcoming events - Myrtle Beach Sun News
Google News - over 6 years
A few hundred feet from a highly commercially developed area of Pawleys Island stand the remnants of an African-American's only resort that hosted musicians as famous as Duke Ellington, James Brown and Little Richard. What was once the Magnolia Beach
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Maine Jazz Septet Mines Little-Known Ellington and Strayhorn Gems - MPBN News
Google News - over 6 years
In Midcoast Maine, there's a group of musicians and jazz enthusiasts that's dedicated to the music of legendary bandleader Duke Ellington and his long-time associate, the composer and arranger Billy Strayhorn. In preparation for a series of upcoming
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Duke Ellington School Receives $17.2 Million Grant - Patch.com
Google News - over 6 years
The Eugene B. Casey Foundation donated a major gift to the performing arts school in Georgetown By Shaun Courtney Duke Ellington School on a crisp fall day. Daniel Elliott "The Duke Ellington Fund is grateful to the Casey Foundation for giving so
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Duke Ellington: Duke Ellington Meets Coleman Hawkins and John Coltrane - San Antonio Current
Google News - over 6 years
When dealing with a musician whose career looms as large as Duke Ellington's (more than five decades and 1000-plus original recordings), finding a place to start can be daunting. Credit Impulse for this beautifully remastered reissue
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Benld's Coliseum Ballroom destroyed in fire - Chicago Tribune
Google News - over 6 years
AP A decades-old theater in the small central Illinois town of Benld that once hosted musicians like Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington has burned down. The Telegraph in Alton reports that the Coliseum Ballroom on Illinois Route 4 burned on Saturday ... -
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Lenny Kravitz - Lenny Kravitz Has Cherished Memories Of Duke Ellington And Richie - Contactmusic.com
Google News - over 6 years
Jazz great Duke Ellington once serenaded rocker Lenny Kravitz on his birthday when he was a kid. The Let Love Rule singer's parents decided to treat young Lenny to a concert at the fabled Rainbow Room in New York and when the headliner realised he had
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The Complete 1932-1940 Brunswick, Columbia and Master Recordings of Duke ... - JazzTimes Magazine
Google News - over 6 years
Mosaic isn't exactly mucking around on this gargantuan 11-disc set that essentially distills the first grand age of Ellingtonia into the contents of one box set. There would, of course, be other ages of comparable majesty,
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Symphony Under Stars to be swinging time - Helena Independent Record
Google News - over 6 years
music from the Harlem Renaissance, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, James P. Johnson and more will be performed on Guadalupe hill Saturday July 16, 2011 beginning at 8:30 pm Symphony Under the Stars concert and fireworks show has attracted over 15000
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Duke Ellington to the Court of St. James? - San Francisco Chronicle
Google News - over 6 years
President Kennedy, I think, should name Duke Ellington to be our Ambassador to the Court of St. James. There are cogent reasons for such an appointment, which has been given to some far-out cats, including Mr. Joe Kennedy, the Leader's pater
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Beyond Category: Maud Hixson and Lucia Newell Sing Ellington and Strayhorn ... - Jazz Police (blog)
Google News - over 6 years
Duke Ellington on Billy Strayhorn “Beyond Category” was a phrase often used by Duke Ellington to describe others who most impressed him, but it was the Duke's legacy of compositions and arrangements that defied classification
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Duke Ellington Show Choir prepares to take their talent overseas - Washington Post (blog)
Google News - over 6 years
The 2011 Duke Ellington School of the Arts Show Choir is taking their talent across the waters and heading to France and Monaco on a two-week European tour. The choir, composed of 27 members, both students and alumni who will be
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Duke Ellington's mother dies - The Guardian
Google News - over 6 years
The death of Duke Ellington's beloved mother in 1935 drew from the great composer a work that provided the first serious indication that his gifts could not be confined to the glittering multifaceted miniatures with which he had made his name
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Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Duke Ellington
    LATE ADULTHOOD
  • 1974
    Age 74
    Ellington died on May 24, 1974, of complications from lung cancer and pneumonia, a few weeks after his 75th birthday.
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  • 1973
    Age 73
    Recordings of Duke Ellington were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, which is a special Grammy award established in 1973 to honor recordings that are at least twenty-five years old, and that have qualitative or historical significance.
    The last three shows Ellington and his orchestra performed were one on March 21, 1973 at Purdue University's Hall of Music and two on March 22, 1973 at the Sturges-Young Auditorium in Sturgis, Michigan.
  • 1965
    Age 65
    In September 1965, he premiered the first of his Sacred Concerts.
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    Ellington was a Pulitzer Prize for Music nominee in 1965 but another nominee was selected.
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  • 1963
    Age 63
    Ellington wrote an original score for director Michael Langham's production of Shakespeare's Timon of Athens at the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada which opened on July 29, 1963.
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  • 1960
    Age 60
    Musicians who had previously worked with Ellington returned to the Orchestra as members: Lawrence Brown in 1960 and Cootie Williams in 1962. "The writing and playing of music is a matter of intent.
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  • FIFTIES
  • 1959
    Age 59
    Ellington earned 12 Grammy awards from 1959 to 2000, three of which were posthumous.
  • 1957
    Age 57
    In 1957, CBS (Columbia Records' parent corporation) aired a live television production of A Drum Is a Woman, an allegorical suite which received mixed reviews.
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  • 1956
    Age 56
    Ellington's appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival on July 7, 1956 returned him to wider prominence and introduced him to a new generation of fans.
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  • 1955
    Age 55
    But Duke merely lifts his finger, three horns make a sound, and I don’t know what it is!" However, by 1955, after three years of recording for Capitol, Ellington lacked a regular recording affiliation.
  • 1950
    Age 50
    Tenor player Paul Gonsalves had joined in December 1950 after periods with Count Basie and Dizzy Gillespie and stayed for the rest of his life, while Clark Terry joined in November 1951.
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    Ellington continued on his own course through these tectonic shifts. While Count Basie was forced to disband his whole ensemble and work as an octet for a time, Ellington was able to tour most of Western Europe between April 6 and June 30, 1950, with the orchestra playing 74 dates over 77 days.
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  • FORTIES
  • 1946
    Age 46
    Despite this disappointment, a Broadway production of Ellington's Beggar's Holiday, his sole book musical, premiered on December 23, 1946. under the direction of Nicholas Ray.
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  • 1943
    Age 43
    Ellington debuted Black, Brown and Beige in Carnegie Hall on January 23, 1943, beginning an annual series of concerts there over the next four years. While some jazz musicians had played at Carnegie Hall before, none had performed anything as elaborate as Ellington's work. Unfortunately, starting a regular pattern, Ellington's longer works were generally not well received. A partial exception was Jump for Joy, a full-length musical based on themes of African-American identity, debuted on July 10, 1941, at the Mayan Theater in Los Angeles.
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  • 1942
    Age 42
    Ivie Anderson left in 1942 after eleven years: the longest term of any of Ellington's vocalists.
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  • 1940
    Age 40
    Privately made by Jack Towers and Dick Burris, these recordings were first legitimately issued in 1978 as Duke Ellington at Fargo, 1940 Live; they are among the earliest of innumerable live performances which survive.
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  • THIRTIES
  • 1939
    Age 39
    Ben Webster, the Orchestra's first regular tenor saxophonist, whose main tenure with Ellington spanned 1939 to 1943, started a rivalry with Johnny Hodges as the Orchestra's foremost voice in the sax section.
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    Billy Strayhorn, originally hired as a lyricist, began his association with Ellington in 1939.
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  • 1937
    Age 37
    After leaving agent Irving Mills, he signed on with the William Morris Agency. Mills though continued to record Ellington. After only a year, his Master and Variety labels, the small groups had recorded for the latter, collapsed in late 1937, Mills placed Ellington back on Brunswick and those small group units on Vocalion through to 1940.
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    In 1937, Ellington returned to the Cotton Club which had relocated to the mid-town Theater District.
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  • 1936
    Age 36
    From 1936, Ellington began to make recordings with smaller groups (sextets, octets, and nonets) drawn from his then-15-man orchestra and he composed pieces intended to feature a specific instrumentalist, as with "Jeep's Blues" for Johnny Hodges, "Yearning for Love" for Lawrence Brown, "Trumpet in Spades" for Rex Stewart, "Echoes of Harlem" for Cootie Williams and "Clarinet Lament" for Barney Bigard.
  • 1933
    Age 33
    While the band's United States audience remained mainly African-American in this period, the Ellington orchestra had a significant following overseas, exemplified by the success of their trip to England and Scotland in 1933 and their 1934 visit to the European mainland.
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  • 1932
    Age 32
    Ellington signed exclusively to Brunswick in 1932 and stayed with them through late 1936 (albeit with a short-lived 1933–34 switch to Victor when Irving Mills temporarily moved him and his other acts from Brunswick). As the Depression worsened, the recording industry was in crisis, dropping over 90% of its artists by 1933.
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    Ellington led the orchestra by conducting from the keyboard using piano cues and visual gestures; very rarely did he conduct using a baton. By 1932 his orchestra consisted of six brass instruments, four reeds, and a four-man rhythm section.
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  • 1931
    Age 31
    Ellington's first period at the Cotton Club concluded in 1931.
  • 1930
    Age 30
    He also appeared in the Amos 'n' Andy film Check and Double Check released in 1930.
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  • TWENTIES
  • 1927
    Age 27
    In October 1927, Ellington and his Orchestra recorded several compositions with Adelaide Hall.
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    In September 1927, King Oliver turned down a regular booking for his group as the house band at Harlem's Cotton Club; the offer passed to Ellington after Jimmy McHugh suggested him and Mills arranged an audition.
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  • 1926
    Age 26
    In October 1926, Ellington made an agreement with agent-publisher Irving Mills, giving Mills a 45% interest in Ellington's future.
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  • 1925
    Age 25
    In 1925, Ellington contributed four songs to Chocolate Kiddies starring Lottie Gee and Adelaide Hall, an all-African-American revue which introduced European audiences to African-American styles and performers.
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  • 1924
    Age 24
    Ellington made eight records in 1924, receiving composing credit on three including "Choo Choo".
    Snowden left the group in early 1924 and Ellington took over as bandleader.
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  • 1923
    Age 23
    This was followed in September 1923 by a move to the Hollywood Club – 49th and Broadway – and a four-year engagement, which gave Ellington a solid artistic base.
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  • TEENAGE
  • 1919
    Age 19
    The next spring, on March 11, 1919, Edna gave birth to their only son, Mercer Kennedy Ellington.
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  • 1918
    Age 18
    Ellington married his high school sweetheart, Edna Thompson (d. 1967), on July 2, 1918, when he was 19.
  • 1917
    Age 17
    At first, he played in other ensembles, and in late 1917 formed his first group, "The Duke's Serenaders" ("Colored Syncopators", his telephone directory advertising proclaimed).
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    Working as a freelance sign-painter from 1917, Ellington began assembling groups to play for dances.
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  • 1916
    Age 16
    Ellington started to play gigs in cafés and clubs in and around Washington, D.C. His attachment to music was so strong that in 1916 he turned down an art scholarship to the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.
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  • 1914
    Age 14
    In the summer of 1914, while working as a soda jerk at the Poodle Dog Café, Ellington wrote his first composition, "Soda Fountain Rag" (also known as the "Poodle Dog Rag").
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  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1899
    Born
    Edward Kennedy Ellington was born on April 29, 1899, to James Edward Ellington and Daisy (Kennedy) Ellington in Washington, D.C. Both his parents were pianists.
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Original Authors of this text are noted here.
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