Duke Ellington: A Legend of Jazz

About Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington he was born in Washington, D.C., in a middle class family raised by two talented musicians. He was one of the most famous jazz artists and the originator of big-band jazz.  Ellington performed in Broadway night clubs as the leader of his own sextect, which grew to a ten-piece ensemble. Duke was famous for, “Concerto for Cootie,”  “Cotton Tail” and “Ko-Ko.”

Elements of Jazz

  •  Double Time- A section in which the rhythmic pulse of a piece is doubled for dramatic effect (although the actual length of the measure remains the same).
  • Short Chorus- In swing music, a climatic section usually occurring near the end of the arrangement.
  • Big Band Jazz- A form that evolved from New Orleans-styled combos in late 1920s, characterized by the use of written arrangements and featuring brass and reed sections trading melodic phrases in a call-response styles. 
  • Riff- A short, recurrent melodic-rhythmic phrase.
  • Jungle Sound- Term referencing Africa, associated with unique instrumental timbres typical of Duke Ellington arrangements in the 1920s and 1930s.
  • Swing- Big band jazz style developed in the 1930s that emphasized horn riffs and a rhythmic drive derived from the boogie-woogie bass line. 

Duke Ellington's Groups

Ellington’s groups were composed of musicians with unique playing styles, like Bubber Miley, who used a plunger to make a “wa-wa” sound and John Nanton, who gave the world his trombone “growl.” Many times Cootie Williams, Rex Stewart and Johnny Hodges. His groups often made recordings which were played on the radios, appeared on films and toured around the world. 


Overall, I think that Duke Ellington is a very influential part of the history of jazz. He brought to the world some of the greatest jazz groups in the world. His music was known all around the world and carried his own distinctive sound. 

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