Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington was born to two musicians on April 29, 1899.
He began his own musical career -- starting piano lessons -- at the age of 7. At 15 he wrote his first song (1914)...and spent the next 60 years writing and playing music.
I'm not going to write a lot about him other than to say that his music influenced me as a teen. There's quite a bit of biographical information on the web if you're interested. Some interesting reads are...
- The New York Times Review of: Duke Ellington and His World: A Biography, By A. H. Lawrence
- Wikipedia entry for Duke Ellington
The first clip is from the documentary by Ken Burns, Jazz. It's a short clip of Ellington playing his first composition, "Soda Fountain Rag."
Two of Ellington's signature pieces...the first, "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)" -- this version is Ellington's orchestra with Louis Armstrong. You can only listen to on YouTube (click the image to listen), but it's worth it...
Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington: "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)"
Finally, a late version (1964) of "Take the "A" Train." During the introduction Ellington introduces his arranger and collaborator, Billy Strayhorn. Music starts at about 1:25. Vocal by Ernie Shepard.
All who envision a more just, progressive and fair society cannot ignore the battle for our nation’s educational future. Principals fighting for better schools, teachers fighting for better classrooms, students fighting for greater opportunities, parents fighting for a future worthy of their child’s promise: their fight is our fight. We must all join in.
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