Duke Ellington

US composer, pianist & jazz bandleader. Born 29 April 1899. Died 24 May 1974
Duke Ellington
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/960x540/p01bqfxj.jpg
1899-04-29
https://musicbrainz.org/artist/3af06bc4-68ad-4cae-bb7a-7eeeb45e411f
Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington Biography (BBC)

Edward Kennedy 'Duke' Ellington was born in Washington at the end of the nineteenth century during the height of the ragtime era. His piano teacher, the aptly-named Miss Clinkscales, may have disapproved, but at sixteen he had written his own Soda Fountain Rag, the start of a sixty-year career as a composer.

He had also acquired his nickname 'Duke', from his dapper appearance as he worked as a soda-jerk at Washington's Poodle Dog Cafe. In 1927, Ellington got his big break and moved into the Cotton Club in Harlem.

Run by gangsters, featuring a dazzling floor show built around a jungle theme, and attended by well-to-do white audiences seeking some exotic night life, the Cotton Club offered a platform for Ellington to develop his career, and broadcasts, films and discs for several labels followed in profusion.

By 1931, Ellington's Cotton Club orchestra had become the leading big band in the USA. In the mid-1930s, Ellington began to experiment with large scale compositions, such as Reminiscing in Tempo and Creole Rhapsody.

At the end of the decade he had assembled his finest band, featuring Ben Webster's tough and lyrical tenor sax, and the tragically short-lived bassist Jimmy Blanton, who introduced a new rhythmic freedom. In 1939, pianist and composer Billy Strayhorn joined Ellington, and the two men found they had a natural talent for writing music together, continuing. until Strayhorn's death in 1967.

Strayhorn wrote the band's theme Take The A-Train. In 1943, at Carnegie Hall Ellington premiered his 45-minute Black Brown and Beige, and although its lukewarm critical reaction briefly deterred him, he began a sequence of further long pieces with the Deep South Suite in 1946.

From the 1950s, Ellington toured internationally, wrote many long suites, and also composed for films and the stage. His best-known film score was Anatomy of a Murder (1959). In his last years, Ellington wrote much sacred music, which he performed in churches and cathedrals round the world. His other extended suites were inspired by ideas as different as New Orleans music, Shakespeare and visits to Asia.

Duke Ellington Biography (Wikipedia)

Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington (April 29, 1899 – May 24, 1974) was an American composer, pianist, and leader of a jazz orchestra, which he led from 1923 until his death over a career spanning more than 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. Although 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 jazz musicians who were members of Ellington's orchestra, such as saxophonist Johnny Hodges, are considered to be among the best players in the idiom. 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 wrote more than one thousand compositions; his extensive body of work is the largest recorded personal jazz legacy, with many of his pieces 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. In the early 1940s, Ellington began a nearly thirty-year collaboration 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 revival and embarked on world tours. Ellington recorded for most American record companies of his era, performed in several films, scored several, and composed a...

This entry is from Wikipedia, the user-contributed encyclopedia. It may not have been reviewed by professional editors and is licensed under an Attribution-ShareAlike Creative Commons License. If you find the biography content factually incorrect or highly offensive you can edit this article at Wikipedia. Find out more about our use of this data.

Duke Ellington Performances & Interviews


Duke Ellington Tracks

Sort by

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Waltz of the Flowers arr Ellington (The Nutcracker)
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p06ng1td.jpg
link
Waltz of the Flowers arr Ellington (The Nutcracker)
Duke Ellington
A Tone Parallel to Harlem
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p024fd6n.jpg
link
A Tone Parallel to Harlem
Duke Ellington
In A Sentimental Mood
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p024fd6n.jpg
link
In A Sentimental Mood
Duke Ellington
Battle Royal
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p024fd6n.jpg
link
Battle Royal
Duke Ellington
Take The A Train
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p024fd6n.jpg
link
Take The A Train
Duke Ellington
The River - ballet for jazz orchestra
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p024fd6n.jpg
link
The River - ballet for jazz orchestra
Duke Ellington
The Giggling Rapids (The River - suite)
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p024fd6n.jpg
link
The Giggling Rapids (The River - suite)
Duke Ellington
Copout Extension
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p024fd6n.jpg
link
Copout Extension
Duke Ellington
Morning Mood
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p024fd6n.jpg
link
Morning Mood

Morning Mood

Performer
Duke Ellington's orchestra
Duke Ellington
In the hall of the Mountain King
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p024fd6n.jpg
link
In the hall of the Mountain King

In the hall of the Mountain King

Performer
Duke Ellington's orchestra
Duke Ellington
Solitude
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p024fd6n.jpg
link
Solitude
Duke Ellington
Blue Pepper (Far East of the Blues)
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p024fd6n.jpg
link
Blue Pepper (Far East of the Blues)
Duke Ellington
Harlem Air Shaft
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p024fd6n.jpg
link
Harlem Air Shaft
Duke Ellington
It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p024fd6n.jpg
link
It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)
Duke Ellington
Half Past Midnight Jump
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p024fd6n.jpg
link
Half Past Midnight Jump
Duke Ellington
East St Louis Toodle-Oo
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p024fd6n.jpg
link
East St Louis Toodle-Oo
Duke Ellington
The Opener (BBC Archive - Radio 2 Jazz 625)
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p024fd6n.jpg
link
The Opener (BBC Archive - Radio 2 Jazz 625)
Duke Ellington
Perdido
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p024fd6n.jpg
link
Perdido
Duke Ellington
Bugle Breaks
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p024fd6n.jpg
link
Bugle Breaks
Duke Ellington
Take the A Train (From Jazz 625 in 1964)
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p024fd6n.jpg
link
Take the A Train (From Jazz 625 in 1964)
Duke Ellington
Take the "A" Train
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p024fd6n.jpg
link
Take the "A" Train
Duke Ellington
Mood Indigo
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p024fd6n.jpg
link
Mood Indigo

Mood Indigo

Orchestra
Duke Ellington Orchestra
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Dance of the Floreadores (Nutcracker Suite)
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p06ng1td.jpg
link
Dance of the Floreadores (Nutcracker Suite)

Dance of the Floreadores (Nutcracker Suite)

Music Arranger
Ensemble
Duke Ellington Orchestra
Last played on
Duke Ellington
Sophisticated Lady
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p024fd6n.jpg
link
Sophisticated Lady
Louis Armstrong
Im Just A Lucky So And So
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqlvl.jpg
link
Im Just A Lucky So And So
Duke Ellington
Isfahan
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p024fd6n.jpg
link
Isfahan
Duke Ellington
Ko-ko
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p024fd6n.jpg
link
Ko-ko
Duke Ellington
Echoes of the Jungle
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p024fd6n.jpg
link
Echoes of the Jungle
Duke Ellington
Cotton Tail
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p024fd6n.jpg
link
Cotton Tail
Duke Ellington
Rockin' in Rhythm
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p024lp5m.jpg
link
Rockin' in Rhythm
Duke Ellington
Take all my loves & My love is a fever
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p024fd6n.jpg
link
Take all my loves & My love is a fever
Duke Ellington
Take the "A" Train (Live at Newport 1956)
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p024fd6n.jpg
link
Take the "A" Train (Live at Newport 1956)
Duke Ellington
Sultry Sunset
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p024fd6n.jpg
link
Sultry Sunset
Duke Ellington
In A Sentimental Mood
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p024fd6n.jpg
link
In A Sentimental Mood
Duke Ellington
Blue Skies
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p024fd6n.jpg
link
Blue Skies
Ella Fitzgerald
Mack The Knife
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p06bm424.jpg
link
Mack The Knife
Duke Ellington
Make No Mistake
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p024fd6n.jpg
link
Make No Mistake
Duke Ellington
Portrait Of Mahalia Jackson
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p024fd6n.jpg
link
Portrait Of Mahalia Jackson
Duke Ellington
Black And Tan Fantasy
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p024fd6n.jpg
link
Black And Tan Fantasy
Load more tracks
Playlists featuring Duke Ellington


Past BBC Events

Proms 2012: Prom 38: National Youth Jazz Orchestra
https://www.bbc.co.uk/events/e9crzc
Royal Albert Hall
2012-08-10T04:09:56
10
Aug
2012

Proms 2012: Prom 38: National Youth Jazz Orchestra

Royal Albert Hall

Latest Duke Ellington News

    Play on! How Shakespeare inspired 400 years of music
    A brief history of music's love for the Bard - in 6 Proms
    The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Jazz
    Go from a jazz beginner to a jazz winner in just twelve tracks!
Back to artist