Duke Ellington

~ Person

Legal name: Edward Kennedy Ellington


Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington (April 29, 1899 – May 24, 1974) was an American composer, pianist and bandleader of jazz orchestras. He led his orchestra from 1923 until his death, his career spanning over 50 years.

Born in Washington, D.C., Ellington was based in New York City from the mid-1920s onward, and gained a national profile through his orchestra's appearances at the Cotton Club in Harlem. In the 1930s, his orchestra toured in Europe. Though widely considered to have been a pivotal figure in the history of jazz, Ellington embraced the phrase "beyond category" as a liberating principle, and referred to his music as part of the more general category of American Music, rather than to a musical genre such as jazz.

Some of the musicians who were members of Ellington's orchestra, such as saxophonist Johnny Hodges, are considered to be among the best players in jazz. Ellington melded them into the best-known orchestral unit in the history of jazz. Some members stayed with the orchestra for several decades. A master at writing miniatures for the three-minute 78 rpm recording format, Ellington often composed specifically to feature the style and skills of his individual musicians.

Often collaborating with others, Ellington wrote more than one thousand compositions; his extensive body of work is the largest recorded personal jazz legacy, with many of his extant works having become standards. Ellington also recorded songs written by his bandsmen, for example Juan Tizol's "Caravan", and "Perdido", which brought a Spanish tinge to big band jazz. After 1941, Ellington collaborated with composer-arranger-pianist Billy Strayhorn, whom he called his writing and arranging companion. With Strayhorn, he composed many extended compositions, or suites, as well as additional short pieces. Following an appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival, in July 1956, Ellington and his orchestra enjoyed a major career revival and embarked on world tours. Ellington recorded for most American record companies of his era, performed in several films, scoring several, and composed stage musicals.

Due to his inventive use of the orchestra, or big band, and thanks to his eloquence and charisma, Ellington is generally considered to have elevated the perception of jazz to an art form on a par with other traditional musical genres. His reputation continued to rise after his death, and he was awarded a special Pulitzer Prize for music in 1999.

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Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1959 Side by Side Duke Ellington & Johnny Hodges 4
1960 Back to Back: Duke Ellington and Johnny Hodges Play the Blues Duke Ellington & Johnny Hodges 2
1961 American Freedom Louis Armstrong & Duke Ellington 1
1961 First Time! The Count Meets the Duke Duke Ellington & Count Basie 3
1961 Piano in the Foreground Duke Ellington 3
1961 Recording Together for the First Time Louis Armstrong & Duke Ellington 1
1962 Money Jungle Duke EllingtonCharles MingusMax Roach 6
1963 Duke Ellington & John Coltrane Duke Ellington & John Coltrane 8
1963 Duke Ellington Meets Coleman Hawkins Duke Ellington & Coleman Hawkins 6
1967 Francis A. & Edward K. Frank Sinatra with Duke Ellington 2
1974 Duke's Big 4 Duke Ellington 2
1979 Unknown Session Duke Ellington 1
1982 Recollections of the Big Band Era Duke Ellington 1
1982 It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing Duke Ellington & Teresa Brewer 2
1986 Music by Ellington & Bartók Ellington, Bartók; Nigel Kennedy, Alec Dankworth 1
1988 The Private Collection, Volume One: Studio Sessions, Chicago 1956 Duke Ellington 1
1989 Piano Reflections Duke Ellington 1
1991 Braggin' in Brass: The Immortal 1938 Year Duke Ellington 1
1993 Stereo Reflections In Ellington Duke Ellington 1
1993 Still: Symphony no. 1 "Afro-American" / Ellington: Suite from "The River" William Grant Still, Duke Ellington; Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Neeme Järvi 1
1993 Still: Symphony no. 2 "Song of a New Race" / Dawson: Negro Folk Symphony / Ellington: Harlem William Grant Still, William Levi Dawson, Duke Ellington; Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Neeme Järvi 1
1994 The Mexican Concert Duke Ellington 1
1994 This One's for Blanton! Duke Ellington & Ray Brown 2
1995 From the Blue Note: Chicago 1952 Duke Ellington 1
1995 Cornell University Concert Duke Ellington 1
1996 Ella at Duke's Place Duke Ellington & Ella Fitzgerald 1
1996 I Got It Bad Duke Ellington 1
1996 Louis Armstrong meets Duke Ellington Louis Armstrong & Duke Ellington 1
1998 Priceless Jazz Duke Ellington 1
1999 Duke Ellington and His Famous Orchestra 1941: The Complete Standard Transcriptions Duke Ellington 1
1999 A Portrait Of Duke Ellington Duke Ellington 1
1999 Reflections on Duke Duke Ellington; Jean-Yves Thibaudet 1
2000 The Great Summit: The Master Takes Louis Armstrong & Duke Ellington 3
2000 All-Time Greats Duke Ellington 1
2000 Classic Ellington Duke Ellington arr. Luther Henderson; City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Simon Rattle, Lena Horne 1
2001 Ellington: Suite from "The River" / Harlem / Solitude / Dawson: Negro Folk Symphony Duke Ellington, William Levi Dawson; Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Neeme Järvi 1
2001 Feeling of Jazz Duke Ellington 1
2001 Collages Duke Ellington with The Ron Collier Orchestra 1
2013 Black, Brown, and Beige Duke Ellington; Buffalo Philharmonic, JoAnn Falletta 1
An Historic Recording Event Louis Armstrong & Duke Ellington 1
Four Symphonic Works by Duke Ellington Duke Ellington 1
Mood Indigo Duke Ellington 1
One O'Clock Jump Duke Ellington 1
Take the 'A' train Duke Ellington 1
Take the "A" Train Duke Ellington 1
The Far East Suite Duke Ellington 1
The Great Reunion Louis Armstrong & Duke Ellington 2
The Intimate Ellington Duke Ellington 1

Album + Compilation

Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1969 Flaming Youth Duke Ellington 1
1988 Recording Together for the First Time / The Great Reunion of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington Louis Armstrong & Duke Ellington 1

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