Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington (Edward Kennedy Ellington), 1899–1974, American jazz musician and composer, b. Washington, D.C. Ellington made his first professional appearance as a jazz pianist in 1916. By 1918 he had formed a band, and after appearances in nightclubs in Harlem he became one of the most famous figures in American jazz. Ellington's orchestra played compositions and arrangements, some by hime alone, many by or in collaboration with Billy Strayhorn, and others written by Ellington and other members of his band (but often not credited to them). He achieved a fine unity of style, based in blues, but elegant and tonal, and made many innovations in the jazz idiom. Many instrumental virtuosos worked closely with Ellington for long periods of time. Among his best-known short works are Mood Indigo,Solitude, and Sophisticated Lady. He also wrote jazz works of complex orchestration and ambitious scope for concert presentation, notably Creole Rhapsody (1932), Black, Brown and Beige (1943), Liberian Suite (1947), Harlem (1951), and Night Creatures (1955), and composed religious music, including three sacred concerts (1965, 1968, and 1973). Ellington made many tours of Europe, appeared in numerous jazz festivals and several films, and made hundreds of recordings. In 1969 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

See his memoir, Music Is My Mistress (1973); M. Tucker, ed., The Duke Ellington Reader (1993); M. Ellington (his son) and S. Dance, Duke Ellington in Person (1978); biographies by B. Ulanov (1946, repr. 1976), J. L. Collier (1989), M. Tucker (1991), J. E. Hass (1993), A. H. Lawrence (2001), and T. Teachout (2013); S. Dance, The World of Duke Ellington (1970); H. G. Cohen, Duke Ellington's America (2010).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

The Early Swing Era, 1930 to 1941
Dave Oliphant.
Greenwood Press, 2002
Librarian’s tip: "Duke Ellington" begins on p. 65
Men of Popular Music
David Ewen.
Ziff-Davis Publishing, 1944
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Five "Duke Ellington"
The Jazz Cadence of American Culture
Robert G. O'Meally.
Columbia University Press, 1998
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 9 "Duke Ellington: 'Music like a Big Hot Pot of Good Gumbo'"
Dvořák to Duke Ellington: A Conductor Explores America's Music and Its African American Roots
Maurice Peress.
Oxford University Press, 2004
The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz
Leonard Feather; Ira Gitler.
Oxford University Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: "Ellington, Duke" begins on p. 205
Uptown Conversation: The New Jazz Studies
Robert G. O'Meally; Brent Hayes Edwards; Farah Jasmine Griffin.
Columbia University Press, 2004
Librarian’s tip: "Paris Blues: Ellington, Armstrong, and Saying It with Music" begins on p. 297, and "The Literary Ellington" begins on p. 326
Music of the Golden Age, 1900-1950 and Beyond: A Guide to Popular Composers and Lyricists
Arthur L. Iger.
Greenwood Press, 1998
Librarian’s tip: "Duke Ellington, Composer (1899-1974)" begins on p. 59
The History of Jazz
Ted Gioia.
Oxford University Press, 1998
Librarian’s tip: "Duke Ellington's Early Career" begins on p. 117
Keeping Time: Readings in Jazz History
Robert Walser.
Oxford University Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: "Duke Ellington Explains Swing" begins on p. 106
Landing on the Wrong Note: Jazz, Dissonance, and Critical Practice
Ajay Heble.
Routledge, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Duke Ellington begins on p. 111
Jazz: Its Evolution and Essence
André Hodeir; David Noakes.
Grove Press, 1956
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Duke Ellington begins on p. 87
The Cotton Club
Jim Haskins.
Random House, 1977
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "Duke Ellington Comes to the Cotton Club"
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