A biography of duke ellington an american musician

Sources Duke Ellington was a distinctive and pivotal figure in the world of jazz. While many critics agree that his flair for style far exceeded his raw musical talent, few dispute the significance of his impact on the music scene in the United States and abroad. During the course of his long career, Ellington was showered with many honors, including the highest civilian award granted by the United Statesthe Presidential Medal of Freedom, which was presented to him by President Richard M.

A biography of duke ellington an american musician

Ellington, Duke 1899–1974

From the start more truly a composer than an arranger, Ellington blended thematic material suggested to him by some of his players—in… Ellington grew up in a secure middle-class family in Washington, D. His family encouraged his interests in the fine arts, and he began studying piano at age seven.

He became engrossed in studying art during his high-school years, and he was awarded, but did not accept, a scholarship to the Pratt InstituteBrooklyn, New York.

Inspired by ragtime performers, he began to perform professionally at age Ellington first played in New York City in Later that year he moved there and, in Broadway nightclubs, led a sextet that grew in time into a piece ensemble.

AP Images Extended residencies at the Cotton Club in Harlem —32, —38 stimulated Ellington to enlarge his band to 14 musicians and to expand his compositional scope. He selected his musicians for their expressive individuality, and several members of his ensemble—including trumpeter Cootie Williams who replaced Mileycornetist Rex Stewarttrombonist Lawrence Brown, baritone saxophonist Harry Carneyalto saxophonist Johnny Hodgesand clarinetist Barney Bigard—were themselves important jazz artists.

The most popular of these was Hodges, who rendered ballads with a full, creamy tone and long portamentos. With these exceptional musicians, who remained with him throughout the s, Ellington made hundreds of recordings, appeared in films and on radio, and toured Europe in and The expertise of this ensemble allowed Ellington to break away from the conventions of band-section scoring.

He composed a series of works to highlight the special talents of his soloists. The variety and ingenuity of these works, all conceived for three-minute, rpm records, are extraordinary, as are their unique forms, which range from logically flowing expositions to juxtapositions of line and mood.

Tenor saxophonist Ben Webster and bassist Jimmy Blantonboth major jazz artists, were with this classic Ellington band. During these years Ellington became intrigued with the possibilities of composing jazz within classical forms.


His musical suite Black, Brown and Beigea portrayal of African-American history, was the first in a series of suites he composed, usually consisting of pieces linked by subject matter. Ellington wrote motion-picture scores for The Asphalt Jungle and Anatomy of a Murder and composed for the ballet and theatre—including, at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, the show My Peoplea celebration of African-American life.

In his last decade he composed three pieces of sacred music: 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 ArmstrongElla Fitzgeraldand Coleman Hawkins but also with later bop musicians John Coltrane and Charles Mingus.

During —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.

There were some exceptions to this generalization, such as trumpeter-violinist Ray Nance and high-note trumpet specialist Cat Anderson. He adapted his style for orchestral purposes, accompanying with vivid harmonic colours and, especially in later years, offering swinging solos with angular melodies.

An elegant man, Ellington maintained a regal manner as he led the band and charmed audiences with his suave humour. His career spanned more than half a century—most of the documented history of jazz.

Ellington, Duke

He continued to lead the band until shortly before his death in His gift of melody and his mastery of sonic textures, rhythms, and compositional forms translated his often subtle, often complex perceptions into a body of music unequaled in jazz history.

Charles Ives is perhaps his only rival for the title of the greatest American composer. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:Duke Ellington Biography Duke Ellington was an American jazz composer and performer who is among one of the greatest names in the history of jazz.

This biography profiles his childhood, life, music career, achievements and grupobittia.com: Edna Thompson, Mildred Dixon.

A biography of duke ellington an american musician

Images for Duke Ellington (American musician). Enhance your search results page with Britannica’s FREE Chrome extension.

Autobiography of bandleader, composer, and jazz musician Duke Ellington (). Describes Ellington's childhood in Washington, D.C., his fellow Music professor's biography of the African American musician credits Biographies of Jazz and Blues Singers and Musicians Page 7 of 7.

“It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.” Considered one of the greatest jazz composers of all time, Duke Ellington had an enormous impact on the popular music . Duke Ellington was an American jazz composer and performer who is among one of the greatest names in the history of jazz.

This biography profiles his childhood, life, music career, achievements and grupobittia.com: Edna Thompson, Mildred Dixon.

American jazz saxophonist Johnny Hodges, a featured soloist in Duke Ellington's orchestra, was among the most influential sax players in the history of jazz.

A biography of duke ellington an american musician

Saxophonist (–).

Mercer Ellington - Wikipedia