Monday, April 29, 2013

Duke Ellington, Born April 29, 1899, Jazz and Classical Composer and Bandleader Whose Music Has Never Left Us

Duke Ellington
Black, Brown, and Beige
Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
JoAnn Falletta, Conductor
Naxos 8.559737 (2013)

The Naxos American Classics series is an exceptional undertaking by the world's best-selling classical music label.  Today we celebrate the birth of the All-American jazz and classical composer, pianist and bandleader Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington on April 29, 1899.  He passed away in 1974, nearly four decades ago, but the stream of new recordings of his works flows unabated.

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra's new disc is particularly meaningful to us. Duke Ellington is featured as a Composer of African Descent at because of two works on the Naxos CD, Harlem (14:27) and Suite from 'The River' (21:04). Both were recorded on the Chandos label in 1993 by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Neeme Järvi.  Those two works confirmed for us that Duke Ellington had been a classical composer long before a recording of either composition became commercially available.

Browsing through AfriClassical posts of recent months, we found these recent examples of the continuing musical legacy of Duke Ellington:

March 11, 2013

Works of Henry Gilbert, William Grant Still & Duke Ellington in 'Hidden Voices,' BBC Concert Orchestra Sun. 24 March 2013, 7.30pm, Queen Elizabeth Hall

February 3, 2013

Althea Waites CD 'Celebration' Features American Composers Curt Cacioppo, Duke Ellington, Jeremiah Evans, Margaret Meier & John W. Work  

The Single Petal of a Rose (1959) Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington (1899-1974)
The Single Petal of a Rose was the end result of a collaboration between Ellington and the late Billy Strayhorn, acclaimed composer, arranger, and pianist. It was specifically designated as a lyrical ballad for solo piano within a larger work, The Queen's Suite, which was written for and dedicated to Queen Elizabeth II of England.

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