Duke Ellington (1899–1974)
29th April 1899 in Washington DC, USA.
Duke Ellington’s grave in New York
24th May 1974 in New York, New York, USA.
Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, New York, New York, USA.
Some famous piecess:
- It Don’t Mean a Thing (If it Ain’t Got That Swing). (See the videos below.)
- Mood Indigo.
- Sophisticated Lady.
- In a Sentimental Mood.
- Take the ‘A’ Train. (This one was written by Billy Strayhorn.)
- Plus many more.
Some great albums:
- Early Ellington (1927–1934).
- Duke Ellington 1935–36.
- The Indispensible, Vols 5/6 (1940) and Vols 7/8 (1941).
- Sophisticated Lady (1941–1946).
- At Newport (1956).
- Such Sweet Thunder (1956–1957).
- Duke Ellington and John Coltrane (1962).
- The Far East Suite (Special Mix) (1966).
- Plus many more!
Some interesting facts:
- He was one of the greatest jazz artists ever!
- He wrote and played great jazz for about 50 years!
- He was one of the greatest jazz artists of the swing era (1930s–early 1940s). [Swing jazz uses big bands and has a strong beat. It is often very fast as well.]
- His real first name was Edward.
- He was a piano player.
- He was a true composer. Many jazz artists do not actually write much music themselves. Duke Ellington was different. He wrote loads of music!
- He didn’t just write jazz. He also wrote film music, popular music, religious music, and even some music that could be called classical.
- He led an orchestra from 1923 until 1974. This orchestra is still going today and is called the Duke Ellington Orchestra.
- In the later 1950s and 1960s he made recording with many other great jazz artists, such as Ella Fitzgerald, John Coltrane, Count Basie and Louis Armstrong.
- He was very charming and polite.
- He was very loyal to the musicians who worked for him. He also wrote his music to make each of his musicians sound as good as they possibly could.
- Over 12,000 people went to his funeral.
- His last words were, “Music is how I live, why I live and how I will be remembered.”
Here is a video of Duke Ellington and his orchestra playing several pieces. One of the pieces is It Don’t Mean a Thing (If it Ain’t Got that Swing). This starts at 2.53 on the video. By the way, Duke Ellington is the one playing the piano.
Duke Ellington and his orchestra playing
‘It Don’t Mean a Thing (If it Ain’t Got that Swing)’ and other songs
Compare this with a video a modern jazz group playing It Don’t Mean a Thing (If it Ain’t Got that Swing).
A modern jazz group playing ‘It Don’t Mean a Thing (If it Ain’t Got that Swing)’
- Duke Ellington. This photograph is of Duke Ellington at the Hurricane Club, New York in May 1943. It was taken by Gordon Parks and is in the public domain. Click here for the source of this image, along with the relevant copyright information.
- Duke Ellington’s grave in New York. This photograph was taken on 23rd October 2008 by the user Anthony22 on Wikipedia. This image is free to use providing one credits the photographer. Click here for the source of this image, along with the relevant copyright information.
- Duke Ellington and his orchestra. Duke Elington et son orchestre, It Don’t Mean a Thing.
- It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing – Mike Flaherty’s Dixieland Direct Jazz Band. Mike Flaherty’s Dixieland Direct Jazz Band live at the Kennedy Center featuring: Henning Hoehne, Bob Boguslaw, Dallas Smith and Mike Flaherty. http://www.dixielanddirect.com. There is more information about this one on the video’s YouTube page.