Duke Ellington

The Life of a Musical Genius


Duke Ellington was a composer, pianist, and bandleader whose career lasted half a century. Ellington's most famous pieces include, "Concerto for Cootie," "Cotton Tail," "Ko-Ko," "It Don't Mean a Thing if it Ain't Got That Swing," "Sophisticated Lady," "Prelude to a Kiss," "Solitude," and "Satin Doll." Ellington used a mix of melodies and rhythms in his works that made his pieces stand out. Ellington earned 12 Grammy awards, three of which were awarded to him after death. Ellington died in 1974 along with the last words, "Music is how I live, why I live, and how I will be remembered."
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Duke Ellington is known as one of the greatest jazz artists of all time. Between songs he performed, composed, and so on, Ellington had over 2,000 songs. Ellington was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, awarded a Doctor of Music degree, and given the Medal of Freedom. Ellington is still one of the most popular jazz artists from the Big-Band era.
Duke Ellington - Satin Doll

"Satin Doll" by Duke Ellington

Perhaps one of his more famous pieces, "Satin Doll" was written by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn in 1953. This version of the song is the original instrumental, but lyrics were added soon after by Johnny Mercer. "Satin Doll" was often the closing piece at Ellington's concerts.

Modern-Day Comparison

Duke Ellington's modern day counterpart, in my opinion, is McCoy Tyner. Tyner is a very skilled pianist. composer and bandleader of the present day. Tyner was part of John Coltrane's musical group for seven years, 1960-1967. Tyner then went off to pursue his own musical career, with songs like, "Passion Dance," "Giant Steps," and "Blues on the Corner." Tyner also played two instruments similar to piano, the celesta and the harpsichord.
McCoy Tyner - Giant Steps

"Giant Steps" by McCoy Tyner

This is a piano solo performed by McCoy Turner. I believe there is a large similarity in Ellington and Tyner's playing styles.
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