By: Teddy Corl
Duke Ellington was born April 29, 1899, in Washington, D.C. A major figure in the history of jazz music, his career spanned more than half a century, during which time he composed thousands of songs for the stage, screen and contemporary songbook. He created one of the most distinctive ensemble sounds in Western music and continued to play what he called "American Music" until shortly before his death in 1974.
Jazz and Its Creator
Duke Ellington called his music "American Music" rather than jazz, and liked to describe those who impressed him as "beyond category. He remains one of the most influential figures in jazz, if not in all American music and is widely considered as one of the twentieth century's best known African American personalities. As both a composer and a band leader, Ellington's reputation has increased since his death, with thematic repackaging of his signature music often becoming best-sellers. Posthumous recognition of his work include a special award citation from the Pulitzer Prize Board.