Duke Ellington

A 1920s Composer


Duke Ellington was one of the most prolific composers during the twentieth century. He was born April 29, 1899 to two pianists and named Edward Kennedy Ellington. In 1923, he played in Atlantic City, New jersey which then got him a gig playing in Harlem at the prestigious Exclusive Club in Harlem. Ellington made eight different records in 1924. Two years later, Ellington made a career-advancing agreement with Irving Mills, an agent publisher. Ellington played at the Harlem Cotton Club where a trumpeter named Bubber Miley influenced his music style. After the 1920s, Duke Ellington continued to be a popular and well known bandleader, jazz pianist, and composer.

Why was Duke Ellington Significant?

Duke Ellington is considered one of the most important figures from the 20th century. He helped to form and propel the genre of jazz. His 50 year career helped to evolve jazz and contributed to making it a popular genre now. Through his music, Duke Ellington helped define African Americans and their culture.
Other facts about Duke Ellington:

He collaborated with Billy Strayhorn on music compositions.

One famous song of his is called Take the A Train

Below is a video of Duke Ellington playing the piano. Watch the first two or three minutes to understand his talent and style. This is significant because you can really see and hear how talented he was and why he was very popular, even after the 1920s and the Harlem Renaissance.

Duke Ellington "All Stars" Octet - Caravan / I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good [1964]
Duke Ellington is a lot like Stevie Wonder. Stevie Wonder plays piano, writes music, and sings. Duke Ellington, played piano, sang, and composed music. They both began music at a young age. Stevie Wonder does sing more often though.
Stevie Wonder on Piano/Synth Unbelievable
Above is Stevie Wonder on the Piano. He also does a large amount of singing, but compare it to Duke Ellington playing the piano.

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