Duke Ellington (1899-1974)
(2008 INDUCTEE) A JAZZ COMPOSER, PIANIST AND BANDLEADER, EDWARD KENNDEY “DUKE” ELLINGTON WAS AMONG THE MOST ACCOMPLISHED MUSICIANS OF THE 20TH CENTURY. HE RECORDED FOR GENNETT IN 1926.
DEDICATED TO DUNCAN SCHIEDT, PHOTOGRAPHER, JAZZ ARCHIVIST AND AUTHOR OF THE JAZZ STATE OF INDIANA, BY WAYNE VINCENT AND LAUREL MARTIN
Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington was born in Washington, D.C. His parents played the piano and exposed their son to the piano at an early age. They also taught him the importance of proper manners, and the self-confident, sharp dressing boy was nicknamed “Duke” by his friends because of his aristocratic bearing. Before he was 20, he formed his first jazz band, “The Duke’s Serenaders”. In March, 1923, Duke moved to New York to join Wilbur Sweatman’s band, but soon branched out on his own. On July 26, 1923, his group made its first recording at Victor under the name of “Snowden’s Novelty Orchestra.” At Gennett’s Manhatten studio, on March 30, 1926, “Duke Ellington and His Orchestra” recorded “(You’ve Got Those” Wanna-Go-Back-Again Blues” and “If You Can’t Hold the Man You Love.” Then on June 21, 1926, under the name “Duke Ellington and His Washingtonians” they recorded several pieces including “Li’l Farina” which is a transitional recording for the band. Ellington arranged and possibly composed this piece. Joe “Tricky Sam” Nanton on trombone and Bubber Miley on trumpet used the growl technique in their solos, a style that would partly define the Ellington sound in later years. Also evident is Ellington’s development as a bandleader and an arranger. Ellington’s final recordings at Gennett New York were in the fall of 1926 with saxophonist Otto Hardwick to accompany Alberta Jones. He would later collaborate with some of the biggest names in jazz history. Ellington once said, “I am not playing jazz, I am trying to play the natural feelings of a people.
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