Duke Ellington Starring in “The Evolution of Jazz”Written by David Kunstek
Duke Ellington Starring in “The Evolution of Jazz”
Duke Ellington is considered to be one of greatest figures in history of American music. Edward Kennedy 'Duke' Ellington was born in Washington D.C. on April 29, 1899. His parents were James Edward and Daisy Kennedy Ellington. They raised Duke as an only child, until his sister, Ruth, was born when Duke was sixteen years old. Duke, even as a teenager had a great talent for music. In beginning of his musical life, Duke began to take a promising interest in a new type of music that would later be called jazz. Choosing to base his career on a new idea may not have been smart, but Duke did take this chance and in turn became one of most famous musicians in America. Duke's first job was at a government office. He was a clerk who received minimum wage and was barely getting by. He would arrange dance bands for weddings and parties for extra money. His mother taught him how to play piano. Sometimes he put this knowledge to use and played at a few of dance parties and weddings. After Duke's first job, he became more interested in painting and arts. For a few years he painted public posters. Duke then decided to put together his own band. At this point in his life things started to change for better for Duke, but not for long. In those days, this new music was just beginning to develop and would later be given name of jazz. In that time it was considered to be low and vulgar because it was music that grew directly out of Black culture. In those early years, segregation was at one of its all time worst points in history. I think that is why Duke Ellington was one of most important individuals to growth and development of jazz. During Duke's long career, new music slowly spread out of bars and saloons, to dance and night clubs and then eventually onto concert stage. In time, jazz became a universally recognized form of art and has been said that it is only real form that has originated from American soul. By 1960's Duke traveled globe so many times that he became known as unofficial ambassador to United States. Duke's band had played in Russia, Japan, Latin America, Far East, Middle East, and Africa. Duke, himself, was an elegant man. When white people looked down on black man and his music, Duke managed to bring dignity to every one of his performances. Once, jazz historian Leonard Feather described Duke as, 'an inch over six feet tall, sturdily built, he had an innate grandeur that would have enabled him to step with unquenched dignity out of a mud puddle.' Duke's private life was something of an enigma. Although he had many friends he never really told them everything about himself. He would often guard his privacy probably because he had so little of it. When he was alone though, he would almost always be arranging next tune for band to play, and was always thinking or preparing something for band to do in next performance. Duke attracted some of greatest musicians to join his band. Because of this it has been said that many of Duke's pieces are almost impossible to exactly duplicate without personal style of original musicians. One of strange things that was known about Duke was that his school music teacher, Mrs. Clinkscales, who played piano, was always inspiration for him to just sit down and start tinkering around with a few notes that usually became big hits. In his band two, probably most famous musicians were trumpeter Whetsol and saxophonist Hodges. As band became more and more popular, saxophonist Hodges became highest paid performer in United States. The 1920's became known as 'the Jazz Age' because jazz had hit its first great burst of popularity. At that time Duke then added a young drummer named Sonny Greer. A few years after Greer was hired, Duke's band hit a very rough spot. They were often stuck in street with no money and nowhere to go. Duke and his band often were stuck doing crude recordings just for a few dollars to buy a meal. In autumn of 1927, luck had crossed paths with Duke again. The manager of Duke's band, Irving Mills, had heard that prestigious cotton club was looking for a new band and immediately Irving began campaigning for Duke. Duke and his band opened on December 4, 1927 to meet a mad rush of spectators who eagerly awaited to hear Dukes newest pieces. Duke's band became very prosperous and they had their own spot on Cotton Club floor with special lighting and accommodations. At year of 1928 band consisted of Bubber Miley, Freddy Jenkins, and Arthur Whetsol on trumpet, joined with Tricky Sam Nanton, and Juan Tizol on trombone. Johnny Hodges, now on alto sax, with Barney Bigard doubled on tenor sax and clarinet, and finally Harry Carney at seventeen years old joined on bari sax. Carney was known as one of first people in a band ever to use bari sax as a solo instrument.
Do you know your Country? Origin of Country Music QuizWritten by Robert Harper
Here's a nice quiz on Origin of Country Music. The answers are on bottom of page.
P.S. Don't feel bad if you only get half of them right. You'll be doing better than my partner Stu did...
1) What person is known as "Father of Country Music"?
A. Johnny Cash B. Jimmie Rodgers C. Tex Ritter D. Jed Clampett
2) Who wrote a song about driving on soundtrack of movie "Roadie" that became a number one country song?
A. Merle Haggard B. Charlie Daniels C. Eddie Rabbitt D. Willie Nelson
3) What year did Patsy Cline die in a plane crash?
A. 1976 B. 1945 C. 1963 D. 1990
4) In 1996 "Wild Angels" hits No. 1 on country charts.Who was country singer?
A. Anita Carter B. Gretchen Wilson C. Martina McBride D. Reba McEntire