Duke: The Musical Life of Duke Ellington
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Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington was one of jazz’s greatest innovators. Join Bill Gutman as he explores the fascinating life of this legend from his birth at the turn of the century to his death at the age of seventy‑five.
Interviewing Duke’s friends, fans, and fellow musicians, Gutman documents the progress of a man who dedicated his life to crafting the ever‑changing sound of jazz. Gutman plunges into the history of jazz from its origin in the honky‑tonk sounds of the Ragtime Era to the forms that are widely enjoyed today.
Jazz has evolved through the years to become one of the most popular forms of music, with Duke Ellington as chief composer, artist, and performer.
Gutman’s account of Ellington’s life as it parallels the history of jazz provides a fascinating history for both jazz veterans and those new to the art form.
learning, Duke began trying his hand as a composer. He hadn't been in New York long when he learned that anybody could take songs to the many music publishers located on Broadway. A music-publisher's office was always a wild scene—six, eight, ten pianos crowded into a small room with aspiring composers banging away on all of them, trying to impress the publisher with their latest creations. Duke joined the action with his usual enthusiasm. He worked with a lyricist named Joe Trent, and the two
slavery had been outlawed. There were race riots in several cities during the 1920s, and black leaders such as Marcus Garvey and W. E. B. Du Bois began exhorting the people to stand up for their rights and be proud of their heritage as black men and women. Black people were also beginning to emerge in the arts, and many of them came to Harlem, which was the black cultural center of the country. Poets, writers, musicians, artists, singers, composers, dancers, and actors were looking for an
those precision notes in the right places, so that we could float out on the great and adventurous sea of expectancy with his pulse and foundation behind us." Duke made an immediate offer to Blanton, and he accepted. The addition of Blanton gave the band a pair of bassists again. But that didn't last long. Several weeks later, the other man just packed his bags and quit, telling Duke, "I'm not going to stand up here next to that young boy playing all that bass and be embarrassed." Blanton took
band. Bigard's sound and style could not be replaced. A year later Duke got Jimmy Hamilton, a fine musician in his own right, but very different from Bigard. Soon after the recording ban ended, two other leading men left: saxophonist Ben Webster and trumpeter Rex Stewart. A year later, in 1946, Otto Hardwick, one of the original Washingtonians, gave up after nearly twenty-five years. That same year, trombonist Tricky Sam Nanton got sick while the band was on the road, and he died soon after. He
Concert, Fantasy, 9433 Author's Note Duke Ellington spent many hours in the recording studio during the course of his long career. These are but a few of the records available today that bring the Ellington years back to life. All rights reserved, including without limitation the right to reproduce this ebook or any portion thereof in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of the publisher.