Essay on A Portrait of Duke Ellington by Tracy Frech

1779 Words Dec 17th, 1999 8 Pages
A Portrait of Duke Ellington By Tracy Frech

Duke Ellington is considered to be one of the greatest figures in the history of
American music. Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington was born in Washington D.C. on
April 29, 1899. His parents were James Edward and Daisy Kennedy Ellington. They raised Duke as an only child, until his sister, Ruth, was born when Duke was sixteen years old. Duke, even as a teenager, had a great talent for music. In the beginning of his musical life, Duke began to take a promising interest in a new type of music that would later be called jazz. Choosing to base his career on a new idea may not have been smart, but Duke did take this chance and in turn became one of the most famous musicians in America.

Duke's
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In the Autumn of 1927, luck had crossed paths with Duke again. The manager of Duke's band, Irving Mills, had heard that the prestigious cotton club was looking for a new band and immediately Irving began campaigning for Duke. Duke and his band opened on December 4, 1927 to meet a mad rush of spectators who eagerly awaited to hear Dukes newest pieces. Duke's band became very prosperous and they had their own spot on the Cotton Club floor with special lighting and accommodations. At the year of 1928 the band consisted of Bubber Miley, Freddy Jenkins, and Arthur
Whetsol on trumpet, joined with Tricky Sam Nanton, and Juan Tizol on trombone.
Johnny Hodges, now on alto sax, with Barney Bigard doubled on tenor sax and clarinet, and finally Harry Carney at seventeen years old joined on bari sax.
Carney was known as one of the first people in a band ever to use the bari sax as a solo instrument. While Duke's band was performing at the Cotton Club, his band participated in more than sixty-four recording sessions.

In 1931 Duke grew so tired of the show-business routines that he decided to try his luck again on his own. When he arrived in New York his band grew to almost three times what it originally had been at the Cotton Club.
Duke feared that this would become a very serious problem considering how the stock market crashed in late 1929 and millions of people across the United States were out of work. Somehow, though,…

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