Duke Ellington

Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington (1899 to 1974) was as pianist one of the most important innovators of the stride piano. As composer he published nearly 2,000 compositions, of which 100 became jazz standards by and by. As band leader he contributed to the development of swing as Bigband style. Duke Ellington was due to his lordly charisma and polished manners nicknamed "Duke" early in his youth by his schoolmates. He began his professional career as musician when he was 17 years old. Duke Ellington was not only active as a piano accompanist, but also as band leader. At the age of 24, when he moved with a group of musicians from Washington to New York, he founded the The Washingtonians band. As the famous King Oliver left the well-known Cotton Club, the job was offered to Duke Ellington as house band in the most famous night club of its time in New York. Gradually, the Washingtonians became the Duke Ellington Orchestra. The Jungle Style became its trademark at the time. As Ellington left the Cotton Club in 1931, he was one of the most well-known Afro-Americans. The piece most frequently connected with the Ellington Orchestra, "Take the A Train," however does not originate - as generally falsely assumed - from Duke, rather from Billy Strayhorn. Duke Ellington died 1974 and was buried in New York.

Photos: Wikipedia, © C. Bechstein Archiv / Helmut KIEHL