Stamp of the Month: April 2024

Duke Ellington

The American pianist and influential jazz musician Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington was born on April 29, 1899 in Washington, D.C., he died on May 24, 1974 in New York City. April 2014 marks the 125th anniversary of his birthday.
The seven-year-old didn’t enjoy lessons from his mother, who wanted to teach him to play the piano. It wasn’t until he was fourteen that his interest in music awoke. At the age of 17 he began his career as a professional musician and soon made a name for himself as a piano accompanist and bandleader for his band “The Washingtonians”. When the famous King Oliver left the famous Cotton Club in New York City in 1927, Ellington was offered the job as house band in New York’s most renowned nightclub at the time. Gradually, the “Washingtonians” became the Duke Ellington

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Orchestra, which achieved national fame through regular radio broadcasts from the Cotton Club.
With his role as bandleader, Ellington contributed significantly to the development of swing as a big band style. After leaving the Cotton Club in 1931, he worked for several record companies and film studios and went on numerous tours throughout the United States and Western Europe from 1933 to the 1960s.
Ellington experimented with his orchestra throughout his life. When he began composing and arranging specifically for the different voices of his orchestra in the 1940s, the band reached its creative peak. Ellington worked with several modern jazz musicians. Duke Ellington wrote almost 2,000 compositions, around a hundred of which are now considered jazz standards. As the popularity of swing declined, he composed longer pieces based on classical music.

The video features live performances by Duke Ellington & His Orchestra with some
of his most famous compositions.