Genre: Jazz & Blues
Price: Under $25,000
Availability: Generally Availablity
Demographics: 50 +
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Duke Ellington was born Edward Kennedy Ellington in 1899 and started his music pursuits early on in life. Young Ellington started with piano lessons when he was only seven, not an atypical endeavor for parents at that time, since music lessons were viewed as a way to teach grace, manners, and discipline. Throughout his upbringing, though, Duke’s commitment to the piano would be often challenged by his love of sports, as his fascination for baseball grew to occupy much of his time.
But early visits to local poolrooms, where pianists often played, refocused his attention on music in his mid teens, and by the time he was a young man, Duke Ellington had begun performing in New York and then in Washington, D.C. Ellington formed his first bands just in time for America’s iconic “jazz period” of the 1920’s, and a move to Harlem around the same time solidified Duke Ellington’s position in history as one of the key musicians of the Harlem Renaissance. For years following, Duke Ellington performed with his bands and his orchestra in a variety of forms, all over the east coast of the United States and beyond. Ellington was an iconic figure at the famous Cotton Club throughout the 1920’s, and his popularity eventually swelled to capture the overseas market.
For decades beyond, all the way up until his death in 1974, Duke Ellington was world renowned as an American pianist, composer, and leader of the Duke Ellington Orchestra. His five-decade long career gave audiences more than one thousand compositions, many of which have now become jazz standards. Ellington has been the recipient of innumerous recognitions and awards, most notably twelve Grammys, the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (1966) and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1969.)
The Duke Ellington Orchestra lives on, however, under the leadership of Duke Ellington’s grandson, Paul Mercer Ellington. Under his guidance, The Duke Ellington Orchestra continues to tour and perform every year, continuing to bring Ellington’s classic music to audiences worldwide. The Duke Ellington Orchestra most recently completed a nationwide tour in 2013, and has plan for future performances in the coming year.
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