The "Ellington Effect"
Edward Kennedy (Duke) Ellington
Duke Ellington (1899-1974) was born in Washington D.C. He began to study piano at age seven, and by the time he was seventeen was leading small bands, working professionally, and composing. In 1923, he moved to New York and began putting an orchestra together. In 1927, The Duke Ellington Orchestra became the house band at the Cotton Club's fashionable radio broadcasts. A steady stream of popular recordings featuring his brilliant and innovative compositions made Ellington and the orchestra famous and commercially successful. Ellington's compositions, orchestral innovations, and arranging techniques had a profound influence on the Swing Era (1935-1945). Ellington was one of the greatest American composers of the 20th Century, composing not only many ballads and dance tunes that have become standards of jazz repertory but also many pieces ranging from songs to suites documenting and celebrating African American life. Leading an orchestra that included brilliant soloists such as Johnny Hodges, Ben Webster, Cootie Williams, and Paul Gonsalves, Ellington remained a worldwide celebrity, composing brilliantly, until his death.