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Duke Ellington

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Washington, D.C., USA (1899 – 1974)

Duke Ellington (Edward Kennedy Ellington, April 29, 1899 - May 24, 1974) was an American jazz composer, pianist and bandleader, one of the most influential figures in jazz, if not in all American music.
Duke Ellington composed over 3000 songs, including: “It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing”, “Sophisticated Lady”, “Mood Indigo”, “Solitude”, “In a Mellotone”, and “Satin Doll”.

Through the ranks of Duke Ellington & His Orchestra passed some of the biggest names in jazz, including Billy Strayhorn, Johnny Hodges, Cootie Williams, Bubber Miley, Barney Bigard, Ben Webster, Harry Carney, Sonny Greer, Otto Hardwick, Clark Terry, Jimmy Blanton, Ray Nance, Paul Gonsalves, and Wellman Braud. Many musicians stayed with him for decades. And while all of them were remarkable in their own right, and they all would have probably made it into the annals of jazz history no matter who they played for, it was Ellington’s genius as a composer, pianist, bandleader, celebrity personality, and, most importantly, arranger, that made them the most incredible orchestral unit in the history of jazz. His ability to write and arrange for personalities, rather than instruments, made every solo and every section of every arrangement breathe with character. A giant on the 20th century American cultural scene, Duke Ellington was widely regarded as a legend during his own lifetime.

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