Edward Kennedy Ellington: A Brief Biography

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If you have ever heard the original versions of “Take The “A” Train”, “It Don’t Mean A Thing…”, “Satin Doll”, or “Stompin At The Savoy”, and the long list of jazz hits goes on and on, then you have undoubtedly had the pleasure of listening to one of the greatest composers and musicians that has ever lived. If you have heard those works performed live by the originator, then you have sat amongst greatness. Many great names come to mind when jazz is mentioned but there is one that leads the crowd and has left a legacy that will not soon be forgotten. While his birth certificate may read Edward Kennedy Ellington, he is more commonly known through out the world as “Duke”. He was born on 29 April 1899 to mother Daisy Kennedy Ellington and…show more content…
In 1923, Duke Ellington set his sights on the Big Apple and moved the band to New York City. The band, The Washingtonians, had grown and had regular gigs in Manhattan at places such as Connie’s Inn, The Hollywood Club also known as Club Kentucky, and the infamous Cotton Club just to name a few. Later after Duke Ellington and his band were permanently booked at the Cotton Club they had the fortunate opportunity to be a part of NBCs use of the increase in radio by broadcasting performances from the Cotton Club suitably entitled “From the Cotton Club.” The band was…show more content…
The broken, eighth-note melodies and arrhythms of bebop had little impact on him, though on occasion he recorded with musicians who were not band members—not only with other swing-era luminaries such as Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, and Coleman Hawkins but also with later bop musicians John Coltrane and Charles Mingus. Ellington's stylistic qualities were shared by Strayhorn, who increasingly participated in composing and orchestrating music for the Ellington band. During 1939–67 Strayhorn collaborated so closely with Ellington that jazz scholars may never determine how much the gifted deputy influenced or even composed works attributed to Ellington. He continued to lead the band until shortly before his death in 1974 (Encyclopædia). Unique was word that could almost sum up the extremely talented Duke Ellington. Among his list of accomplishments was receiving the Presidential Medal of Honor in 1969 and posthumously receiving the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1999. His accomplishments are many and span a career many musicians today long to have. Ellington explained the genesis of a famous phrase inextricably associated with him in 1965 interview: “[Trumpeter] Bubber [Miley} was the first man I heard use the expression, “It don’t mean a thing if it

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