Duke Ellington recordings reviewed by All About Jazz


April 29th marks the 107th anniversary of Edward Kennedy Ellington’s birth and in May he will have been gone for 32 years. Yet we have still not come to terms with the magnitude of Duke’s legacy not only to 20th Century music but to the very idea of jazz itself. Too many take reductionist approaches to Ellington, ones that emphasize one or another aspect of his accomplishments without considering the totality. They fall into such traps as “the Duke’s instrument was his orchestra� or “Ellington reached his creative peak in the late ‘30s and early ‘40s� or “the Ellington band was in decline in the years before the Newport Jazz Festival in 1956�. What these statements ignore are such important facts as Ellington’s towering importance as a jazz pianist, his singular achievement of meeting a payroll 52 weeks a year for over four decades and his incredible fecundity as a composer in the last decades of his life, most significantly after the death of his musical alter ego Billy Strayhorn

Read: Duke Ellington: The Piano Player, The Treasury Shows, The Complete Gus Wildi Recordings

Continued below...