Skip to comments.Duke Ellington: 5 Essential Performances (To Celebrate His 114th Birthday)
Posted on 05/10/2013 8:10:47 PM PDT by nickcarraway
To call Edward Kennedy Duke Ellington inimitable is to actually downplay his mythic role in world culture, as no American figure be he from the realm of jazz or any other musical idiom has ever matched his spectacular and ceaseless creativity. Born 114 years ago this week, Ellington was a composer, arranger, bandleader and pianist whose omnivorous talent saw little let up from his artistic maturity in the late 1920s until his death in May of 1974. There was no one remotely like him during his lifetime and there has been no one to challenge his status since.
You can spend a lifetime exploring Ellingtons music between official recordings and informally captured performances there are thousands of hours of what has come to be called Ellingtonia and it would be a worthy and joyous existence. For those who are unfamiliar with this musical titan here is a tip-of-the-iceberg overview of highlights from his extraordinary career.
It Dont Mean a Thing (If It Aint Got That Swing) If the Swing Era of the 1930s and 40s had a theme song it was this rousing number. This 1943 performance features a mere handful of the brilliant soloists (listen for trombonist Tricky Sam Nanton and tenor saxophonist Ben Webster) who made their names with the Ellington Orchestra. Over a decade after the song was originally recorded, it could still get the band jumping.
(Excerpt) Read more at entertainment.time.com ...
My two favorite phases of Ellington’s music... his late-1920s era, with hot numbers like “Jubilee Stomp.” And then, his late-30s/early-40s big-band era recordings, like “The Sergeant Was Shy” and “Main Stem.”
Ellington’s tune “It Don’t Mean a Thing” technically pre-dates the swing/big-band era by a few years. The Boswell Sisters recorded a really jaw-dropping version of it.
It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)--The Boswell Sisters (1932)
The Blanton/Webster era.