A figure as towering as the Duke does not need a schmoe like me to throw out adjectives to pump up his importance or greatness. Instead, my focus on the show was the musical qualities that have left the most indelible marks on me as a composer, pianist and bandleader. With visions of Ellingtonia still dancing in my head, I figured I would compile a list here of personal favorites. Lewis Porter turned my coat to this in graduate school as part of the lineage of the tune from the Original Dixieland Jazz Band through the sophistication of Art Tatum in and on to Charlie Parker and others after that. Featuring so many of his longtime featured soloists Barney Bigard, Harry Carney, Johnny Hodges and on and on this stands as probably my favorite Duke arrangement of a work from outside his own pen or those of his inner circle members. Duke had already composed numerous significant ballads by this point, but to my ears this marks a breakthrough in the level of gentle lyricism at a time when even ballads were still typically rather upbeat. My first in-depth exposure to Duke the pianist outside the context of his Orchestra came through this record. The spiritual side of Ellington the composer and the man is well-documented and that too could easily get its own Top 10 list. This haunting piece is probably my favorite new composition from the final 15 maybe 20? How liberally should Billy Strayhorn be represented on a list like this?
The Ellington Centenary in brought renewed attention to a unique musical legacy, producing a host of definitive reissues and tribute recordings. However, this modest, single-CD compilation remains an excellent introduction to Duke Ellngton's work as composer and bandleader, two indistinguishable roles. It includes many of the original recordings of his most familiar songs, reaching back to the s for the swinging "It Don't Mean a Thing" and the exotic "Caravan" and forward to the s for "Satin Doll. If you want a CD with just the most famous tunes, or if you want to introduce someone to Ellington's music in all its regal brilliance, this is a good place to start. Skip to main content. Buy new:. Arrives: Feb 8 - Ships from: Music Obsession. Sold by: Music Obsession. Only 1 left in stock - order soon.
As well as leading his famed orchestra from the piano chair, he is considered by many to be the greatest jazz composer in history. Duke Ellington showed musical talent from an early age, although he was not initially convinced that music was his calling. Ellington and the Cotton Club were at the heart of the Harlem Renaissance, an explosion of culture, art and intellectualism centred around the African American community in Harlem, an area of Manhattan, in the s. Ellington was always inventive and unconventional when it came to orchestration, and on this one he voiced the generally higher-pitched clarinet at the bottom of a three-horn frontline, with the generally lower-pitched trombone on the top, thus inverting the expected instrumental roles and creating an unusual timbre. Clarinettist Barney Bigard was the clarinet soloist on the original recording and gets a credit as co-composer. This uptempo dance number perfectly encapsulates the raucous atmosphere of the s Swing era. One interpretation of this, in the context of the song and its lyrics, might be the idea that jazz can be complex or technically impressive, but it remains essentially worthless without those magical, hard-to-define ingredients: real feeling, attitude and swing. Ivie Anderson, who sang with the Duke Ellington Orchestra for a decade, provided vocals on the original recording. In Duke Ellington was a musical celebrity at the height of the swing era. One famous edition of the Orchestra is now known as the Blanton-Webster band, which recorded extensively between approximately , and which notably featured tenor saxophone giant Ben Webster and double bassist Jimmy Blanton.
Edward Kennedy " Duke " Ellington April 29, — May 24, was an American composer, pianist, and leader of a jazz orchestra , which he led from until his death over a career spanning more than six decades. Born in Washington, D. In the s, his orchestra toured in Europe. Although widely considered 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. Some of the jazz musicians who were members of Ellington's orchestra, such as saxophonist Johnny Hodges , are considered among the best players in the idiom.