With Creole Rhapsody and Reminiscing in Tempo Ellington was the first jazz composer to break the three-minute time limitation of the rpm record.
Like Haydn and Mozart , Ellington conducted his orchestra from the piano — he always played the keyboard parts when the Sacred Concerts were performed. It was Ellington's sense of musical drama that made him stand out. While some jazz musicians had played at Carnegie Hall before, none had performed anything as elaborate as Ellington's work. After only a year, his Master and Variety labels the small groups had recorded for the latter , collapsed in late , Mills placed Ellington back on Brunswick and those small group units on Vocalion through to May 14, Leo Walsh rated it liked it.
After the s he concentrated more on longer works, including several suites arrangements of music built around a central theme, frequently an aspect of African American life. Always a fine orchestral pianist, with a style influenced by the Harlem stylists of the s, Ellington remained in the background on most of his early recordings. After the s he emerged as a highly imaginative piano soloist. He was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in The city of New York gave him a prize and Yale University awarded him a doctor of music degree in ; Morgan State and Washington universities also gave him honorary degrees that year.
In he was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters. Ellington continued to compose and perform until his death from lung cancer on May 24, , in New York City. His band, headed by his son Mercer, survived him, but as Phyl Garland of Ebony magazine writes, the elder Ellington will always be remembered for "the daring innovations that came to mark his music—the strange modulations changing from one key to another built upon lush melodies that ramble into unexpected places, the unorthodox untraditional construction of songs.
Ellington's legacy is that he remains one of the greatest talents in all of jazz, a remarkable feat considering the history of jazz is packed with legendary names. His influence over musicians is as important today as it was during Ellington's time. Ellington, Edward Kennedy.
Music is My Mistress. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, , revised edition Hasse, John Edward. Lawrence, A.
New York: Schirmer Books, Nicholson, Stuart. Boston: Northeastern University Press, Toggle navigation. Duke's music As a composer Ellington was responsible for numerous works that achieved popular success, some written with his band members and with his co-arranger Billy Strayhorn.
A major new biography of Duke Ellington from the acclaimed author of Pops: A Life of Louis Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original. Editorial Reviews. From Booklist. *Starred Review* In the selective bibliography of this Duke: The Life and Times of Duke Ellington - Kindle edition by Terry.
User Contributions: 1. Ellington accepted it all as the necessary trade-off for stardom. The formula worked.
Some musicians sued him later. Professionally, Strayhorn seemed doomed to live in the shadows, in part because he was gay and had opted not to hide it.
Teachout relates even the most dramatic episodes in the Ellington story with a poised impartiality. Teachout writes in an earthbound style marked by sound scholarship and easy readability. As the largely unsung heroes of the band, they could be angry, sloppy or alcoholic. His prestige and his record sales sagged; many of his key musicians left. Ellington kept writing ambitious thematic works, but most were panned as pretentious and weak. He had one last blaze of glory, a surprise smash appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival.
Ellington denounced their snobbery toward nonclassical forms, and hinted at possible racism.
When he died of pneumonia after a diagnosis of lung cancer, in , he owed the I. Yet none of his missteps have dimmed the Ellington legend.
Seldom overtly political, he preferred to lead by example. Book Review Big Band.