Duke Ellington (American composer, pianist, & jazz bandleader)

~ Person

Legal name: Edward Kennedy Ellington


Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington (April 29, 1899 – May 24, 1974) was an American composer, pianist, and bandleader of a jazz orchestra, which he led from 1923 until his death in a career spanning over fifty 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 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 more traditional musical genres. His reputation continued to rise after he died, and he was awarded a special Pulitzer Prize for music in 1999.

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Album + Compilation

Year Title Artist RatingReleases
2006 Supreme Jazz: Duke Ellington Duke Ellington 1
2006 Duke Ellington, Volume 10: Air Conditioned Jungle, Original Recordings 1945 Duke Ellington 1
2006 Duke Ellington, Volume 11: Time's A-Wastin', Original Recordings 1945-1946 Duke Ellington 1
2006 Duke Ellington, Volume 12: Blue Abandon, Radio Transcriptions & Concert Recordings 1946 Duke Ellington 1
2006 Duke Ellington: The Complete 1936–1940 Variety, Vocalion and Okeh Small Group Sessions Duke Ellington 1
2006 First Class Jazz 16 Duke Ellington 1
2007 The Duke Box 1940-1949 Duke Ellington 1
2007 Coleção Folha clássicos do jazz, Volume 13 Duke Ellington 1
2007 De legendes van de jazz Duke Ellington / Louis Armstrong 1
2007 Jam-A-Ditty (Naxos jazz) Duke Ellington 1
2007 Love You Madly Duke Ellington 1
2008 The Best of Duke Ellington 1932-1939 Duke Ellington 1
2009 Retrospection Duke Ellington 1
2009 The Essential Duke Ellington 1
2009 Original Album Series Duke Ellington 1
2010 BBC Music, Volume 18, Number 7: American Classics: Bernstein, Gershwin, Grofé & Ellington Bernstein / Gershwin / Grofé / Ellington 1
2010 Colección Grandes Maestros del Jazz 3 Duke Ellington 1
2011 The Rough Guide to Jazz Legends: Duke Ellington Duke Ellington 1
2011 Original Album Classics Duke Ellington 1
2012 Mitos do jazz, Volume 8: Duke Ellington Duke Ellington 1
2015 Awesome Moments of Music Louis Armstrong / Duke Ellington 1
2015 La Chanson de Duke Duke Ellington 1
All That Jazz Benny Goodman & Duke Ellington 1
Compact Jazz Duke Ellington & Ella Fitzgerald 1
Die Zeit Legenden des Jazz - Duke Elington Duke Ellington 1
Jazz Profile Duke Ellington 1
Millenium Collection Duke Ellington 1
Mood Indigo Duke Ellington 1
Portrait Duke Ellington 1
Stereo Reflections in Ellington Duke Ellington 1
The Best Of Early Ellington Duke Ellington 1
The Incomparable Sir Duke Duke Ellington 1
The Millenium Anthology Duke Ellington 1
The Real... Duke Ellington (Disc 1) Duke Ellington 1

Album + Live

Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1967 Ella & Duke at the Côte d'Azur Duke Ellington & Ella Fitzgerald 2
1975 The Duke Lives On Duke Ellington 1
1983 All Star Road Band Duke Ellington 1
1984 The Stockholm Concert 1966 Duke Ellington & Ella Fitzgerald 2
1988 Back Room Romp Duke Ellington 1
1994 Live at the Blue Note Duke Ellington 1
1994 Live At The Greek Theatre Duke Ellington & Ella Fitzgerald 1
1994 Togo Brava Suite Duke Ellington 2
1995 New York Concert Duke Ellington 1
1998 Côte d'Azur Concerts on Verve Duke Ellington & Ella Fitzgerald 1
1999 Ellington At Newport 1956 Duke Ellington 1
1999 Live At The Hurricane 1944 Duke Ellington 1
2002 Live at Carnegie Hall Dec. 11, 1943 Duke Ellington 1
70th Birthday Concert Duke Ellington 1
1966-01-30: Teatro Lirico, Milan, Italy Duke & Ella 1

Album + Soundtrack

Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1989 Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies (Original Broadway Cast) Duke Ellington 1
1998 Paris Blues Duke Ellington feat. Louis Armstrong 1


Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1968 Follow Me / All I Need Is the Girl Frank Sinatra & Duke Ellington 1
1999 Reflections on Duke Duke Ellington; Jean-Yves Thibaudet 1

Unspecified type

Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1990 Blues in Orbit Duke Ellington 1
1995 Concert of sacred music Duke Ellington 1
1997 Sir Duke and Friends Duke Ellington 1
2000 Afro Bossa / Concert in the Virgin Islands Duke Ellington 1
2004 Duke Ellington - Il Gigante Dei Bandleader Duke Ellington 1
2014 The Duke: Historically Speaking Duke Ellington 2
Duke Ellington/ The Piano Player Duke Ellington 1
Echoes of Harlem Duke Ellington 1
Jazz: 1953-1955 Duke Ellington 1


Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1991 The Jazz Collector Edition Duke Ellington 1
1993 Giants of the Big Band Era Duke Ellington 1
2013 Eight Classic Albums Duke Ellington 1
Duke Ellington: The Story Duke Ellington 1

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