Edward Kennedy Ellington: Pianist, Poet, And Bandleader

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Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington: Pianist, conductor, songwriter, and bandleader. Since his early teen years, Ellington left his mark on the genre of Jazz music with countless compositions and numerous variety forms that would be displayed for almost half a century. Ellington’s music career redefined many aspects of American music. His musical styling blended elements such as: his signature pursued ragtime, the blues, minstrel song, and others. It was this new complex, and diverse styling that would become a hot commodity of sorts, used in multiple settings including the nightclub scene, theaters, ballrooms, concert halls, and more.
An originator of Big Band Jazz, Duke Ellington’s prominent ear for music stretched further beyond the composition and performance scene by aiding in the recruitment of musicians such as: Bubber Miley, famous for using a plunger that made a "wa-wa" sound, and Joe Nanton, who implemented the "growl" of his trombone, cornetist Rex Stewart, and trumpeter Cootie Williams. His orchestra became his most prominent “instrument” surpassing his individual skill as a pianist. Ellington’s style came into fame as his group, The Washintonians, created the Jazz style of “Jungle Sound.” Compositions including “East St. Louis Toodle-Oo” (1926) and “Black and Tan Fantasy” (1927) sport the band’s 1920’s newly formed style. Ellington’s band leadership, compositions, arrangements, and soloist skills provided solid evidence to the claim of Ellington being the greatest Jazz musician of the 20th century.

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