Duke Ellington

By: Evan Reed


  • He won several awards including: -The Presidential Medal of Freedom (by Richard Nixon in 1969) -Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (in 1966) -PhD from Berkeley for outstanding musicianship (in 1971) Most of his awards were issued to him in the time period of 1965 till his death in 1974. He also wrote over 2,000 compositions in his lifetime in 1899 through 1974.

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    His Affect on African Americans

    Duke Ellington affected many African Americans in a good way. At that time period, a lot black artists were scared to express they're talent because of all of the racial discrimination. Once Duke Ellington started performing in the Cotton Club in NY, many artists came from hiding and started performing with him, or by themselves. Therefore, Duke Ellington had a positive impact on African Americans.
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    What Kind of Music?

    Duke Ellington was an originator of big-band jazz. He produced many jazz songs, like "Take the A Train", and many, many more. He also was an American composer, pianist and bandleader who composed thousands of scores over his 50-year career.
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    Great Music!

    This is a segment from the film Reveille with Beverly from 1943; the song was composed in 1939, by Duke Ellington.
    Duke Ellington, "Take the A Train"

    More Great Music

    "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)" is a 1931 composition by Duke Ellington with lyrics by Irving Mills, now accepted as a jazz standard. The music was written and arranged by Ellington in August 1931 during intermissions at Chicago's Lincoln Tavern and was first recorded by Ellington and his orchestra for Brunswick Records (Br 6265) on February 2, 1932. Ivie Anderson sang the vocal and trombonist Joe Nanton and alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges played the instrumental solos. The title was based on the oft stated credo of Ellington's former trumpeter Bubber Miley, who was dying of tuberculosis. The song became famous, Ellington wrote, "as the expression of a sentiment which prevailed among jazz musicians at the time." Probably the first song to use the phrase "swing" in the title, it introduced the term into everyday language and presaged the Swing Era by three years. The Ellington band played the song continuously over the years and recorded it numerous times, most often with trumpeter Ray Nance as vocalist.
    Duke Ellington - It don't mean a thing (1943)