Duke Ellington

Latest From ICON Magazine
10:48 am
Thu May 22, 2014

Bob Perkins Tells The Story of Billy Strayhorn, Composer of "Take the 'A' Train"

Composer, arranger, and pianist Billy Strathorn is best known for his 30-year collaboration with Duke Ellington. His compositions include "Take the "A" Train," "Chelsea Bridge," and "Lush Life."

He stood five feet, two inches tall, and his musical colleagues dubbed him “Swee’ Pea,” after the little character in the Popeye cartoons. But Billy Strayhorn ranked with the giants that composed enduring standard popular music. He was also nobody’s cartoon character. The handle was a reverent tease, applied by Strayhorn’s musical associates in the Duke Ellington Orchestra.

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WRTI Picks from NPR Music
2:03 am
Tue April 29, 2014

The Public School Where The Duke Lives On

Trumpeter Geraldo Marshall and trombonist Johannes Utas, students at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, rehearse for their school's 40th anniversary celebration.
Lauren Migaki NPR

Originally published on Tue April 29, 2014 12:52 pm

Duke Ellington didn't consider himself a jazz musician.

He said he was a musician who played jazz. And what a musician: pianist, bandleader, composer of more than 1,000 songs including standards like "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)," "Satin Doll" and "Sophisticated Lady."

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Creatively Speaking
5:20 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Did the Cabaret Tax Kill Big Bands?

The Cotton Club, New York City

In 1944 big dance bands were  all the rage.  They were so popular that to gain additional revenue for World War II,  a 30 percent "cabaret tax" was enforced on the gross receipts of any "public place where music and dancing privileges...except instrumental or mechanical music alone,  are afforded the patrons in connection with the serving or selling of food, refreshment, or merchandise."

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Latest From ICON Magazine
5:02 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

The Story of Duke Ellington's Longtime Tenor Sax Bandman

Tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves with Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington was a fascinating figure—so much so that quite a number of books and shorter profiles of the man came to be during his time, and well after his passing. Writers were always peering over his shoulder, trying to get a fix on how he operated his band and made it so successful; they even attempted to poke into his personal life, which the Duke managed to keep fairly secret.

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WRTI Picks from NPR Music
6:42 pm
Sun February 2, 2014

Duke Ellington's Lost Opera, Forever A Work In Progress

Karen Marie Richardson (right) plays the title role in the Long Beach Opera's staging of Queenie Pie, the jazz opera Duke Ellington left unfinished when he died in 1974.
Bryan Frank Long Beach Opera

Duke Ellington added more than 3,000 songs to the American music vault before his death in 1974. He also started composing what he hoped would be a great American street opera — which composers have spent 40 years adapting, trying to figure out what the Duke wanted for his unfinished opus.

But before you imagine soothing arias or boisterous trills and vibrato, let me stop you: Ellington's opera is very much a work of jazz.

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Creatively Speaking
7:22 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Duke Ellington: The Influential, Elegant Genius

Duke Ellington (1899-1974)

Duke Ellington wrote and performed hundreds of musical works, and changed the way people thought about jazz.  And, as WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, his contributions went beyond the music.

Terry Teachout's Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington is published by Gotham Books.

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Big Band Jazz
12:44 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Piano Classics on Big Band Jazz: Jan. 19 at 7 PM

Duke Ellington

Some of the big-name jazz pianists will have their compositions played Big Band Jazz style this week. You'll hear Duke Ellington plays George Shearing's "Lullaby Of Birdland," Gil Evans plays a Thelonious Monk classic, and more. Sunday, January 19th, 7 to 8 pm on WRTI. Join us!

WRTI Spotlight
12:39 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Big Band Jazz: Classics Get A Makeover!

Duke Ellington (1899 - 1974)

Some of the popular Big Band Classics from the 1940s get a 21st-century makeover on Big Band Jazz - this Sunday, November 24 at 7 pm. You'll hear a brilliant reworking of Duke Ellington's "Take The A Train" by the 2013 One O'Clock Lab Band from North Texas State University, Jeff Hamilton and the DePaul University Jazz Ensemble with an update on Woody Herman's theme "Blue Flame," and lots more. Join us!

Creatively Speaking
10:19 am
Sun October 20, 2013

Duke Ellington: A New Biography of the Jazz Master

DUKE, A Life of Duke Ellington, by Terry Teachout, is receiving a lot of attention.

Duke Ellington played piano, but it was his intertwined roles as bandleader and composer that propelled him to greatness. He wrote over 1,700 songs, as well as longer orchestral suites and film scores.  As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, a new book explores the man behind the music.

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Big Band Jazz With Bob Craig
10:03 pm
Sat June 22, 2013

Summer Things on Big Band Jazz, Sunday June 23

Christian McBride

With the help of Duke Ellington, Gerald Wilson, Christian McBride, and others, it's nothing but the sounds of summer on Big Band Jazz, Sunday June 23rd at 7 pm. Bob Craig dials up songs about the birds, songs about the bees, and maybe even songs about the flowers and the trees!

Happy Summer from Bob Craig and all of us at WRTI on Big Band Jazz with Bob Craig, every Sunday night at 7 pm.

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