Duke Ellington…

One of the great things about having a blog, is that you can be as indulgent as you like, on whatever topic you choose, and for no reason at all. There aren’t many things in life that you can say that to. 

So, with that in mind, I’m going to talk about the great Duke Ellington, who on this day in 1943 played at Carnegie Hall in New York for the first time. 

I have to admit that I wasn’t really a keen fan of jazz, however my wife is, and over the years she has converted me, and Duke Ellington, in my opinion, is one of the greats. 

To me, some of his greats are… 

It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing) 

I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good) 

Satin Doll 

Take the A Train 

Cocktails for Two 

Duke Ellington was born to entertain. His parents, James and Daisy Ellington, were both pianists, and a young Duke began his piano lessons at the age of seven. 

His mother was a great advocate and surrounded her son with dignified women to reinforce his manners and teach him to live elegantly. This was the start of his casual, offhand manner, his easy grace, and his dapper dress, all of which gave him the bearing of a young nobleman. 

If I could go back in time, I would love to visit the Cotton Club when it was in its hay day. 

Duke Ellington, and his Cotton Club Orchestra’s stay at the Cotton Club has become one of the enduring legends of Jazz, but Did Duke Ellington make the Cotton Club famous or was it the other way around? The answer may lie somewhere in between, but few will dispute the fact that both the club and bandleader became synonymous with Harlem, an area above Manhattan’s 110th Street where culture thrived and the music was hot. At the time, the Cotton Club was owned by a consortium of mobsters led by bootlegger Owney Madden.  

And then there’s Carnegie Hall. The Carnegie Hall Concerts: January 1943 is a live album that Duke Ellington recorded at Carnegie Hall, in New York City and released on the Prestige label in 1977. 

I can’t begin to cover everything that the great Duke Ellington has done, but there is much to read about Duke , and if you are a fan as I am, I recommend that you make yourself a cup of coffee, snatch half an hour and take yourself back to Harlem, to bootlegging and the romance of the time. 

Enjoy – M H Lord. 

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