Duke Ellington's Black, Brown, And Beige (1943)

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Black, Brown, and Beige was a historic performance by composer/arranger Duke Ellington in January of 1943. This performance was Ellington’s longest and most ambitious to date, not only in the length but in the content and stature as well. With mixed reviews, the performance was widely contested in terms of the actual “parallels”, the performance, and the presentation. None the less, it is an epic performance deserving of its chance to be reviewed and appraised. In particular, the buildup and reviews in the periodical Metronome from January 1943 until March 1943 are going to give a good insight into the times, atmosphere, and reactions leading up to and after the monumental performance. In the reviews after the performance, the writers of Metronome didn’t much consider the content and…show more content…
World War II was in full effect, the country was frantically supporting the war effort, and we were fresh out of the Great Depression. Jazz in the 1920’s until the depression, specifically in Harlem and outlying areas of New York, was characterized by lavishness, dancing the nights away, fun times for all, and carelessness. Duke Ellington directly represented the times with his classy and luxurious attitude, dress, and demeanor, even up until the concert in 1943. Ellington, being described as a “resplendent sight in white tie and tails” (Metronome, 7), didn’t disappoint either. This sight, unfortunately enough, almost mocks the state of the nation at the time. Even though the country was in the upswing, the United States was still in an economical and societal trench, yet there was Ellington with his white tie and tails, never skipping a beat. This does attest, however, to Ellington’s amazing longevity and consistency through all his years in the music business. Nonetheless, the elegance of the performance shows the gap in what Ellington was doing compared to the rest of the

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