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Edward K. (Duke) Ellington

Born: 1899

Died: 1974

Nationality: American

Publisher: G. Schirmer

Born 29 April 1899 in Washington DC, composer, bandleader, and pianist Edward Kennedy ("Duke") Ellington was recognized in his lifetime as one of the greatest jazz composers and performers. A genius for instrumental combinations, improvisation, and jazz arranging brought the world the unique "Ellington" sound that found consummate expression in works like Mood Indigo, Sophisticated Lady, and the symphonic suites Black, Brown, and Beige, and Harlem.

Beginning keyboard studies at the age of seven, Ellington's earliest influences were the ragtime pianists. He taught himself harmony at the piano and at 17, made his professional debut. Encouraged by Fats Waller, he moved to New York in 1923 and, during the formative Cotton Club years, experimented with and developed the style that would quickly bring him worldwide success and recognition. Ellington would be among the first to focus on musical form and composition in jazz using ternary forms and "call-and-response" techniques in works like Concerto for Cootie (known in its familiar vocal version as Do Nothin' till You Hear from Me) and Cotton Tail and classic symphonic devices in his orchestral suites. In this respect, he would influence the likes of Monk, Mingus, and Evans.
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