The Artistry of… Duke Ellington

In a word, gold. An original jazz royal.

The music driven by, and driving, a wave of culture, heritage and social depth, of awareness, innovation, creativity and style. The trails blazed across the music staff with notes that swing as if on fire and caress as if knowing in the moment exactly what you need and needed.

The reign of Duke Ellington has never been challenged. Instead, it has been embraced and its resonance plugged into, so as to be a key element of influence of artistry, and of respect.

Bandleading and a grand big-band swing attitude are the signature. The work with Billy Strayhorn created and defines the standard of composer-duo collaboration. The music is sophisticated and the created pieces are markers in jazz culture and the American music culture.

The music demanded respect and confronted notions and assumptions of inferiority of African-American music. Duke used the music in many ways as a means to state the standard. In an interview with the magazine Music and Rhythm, Ellington expressed his sentiment about the significance of the music beautifully: “It is the result of our transplantation to American soil, and was our reaction in the plantation days to the tyranny we endured. What we could not say openly, we expressed in music.” Ellington shied from no one and nothing. When he did not say it, what he made and played landed where you could and cannot ever miss it.