We’re coming to the end of Jazz Appreciation Month, and today we celebrate the genius of Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington, born on this date in 1899.
Duke Ellington called his music “American Music” rather than jazz, and liked to describe those who impressed him as “beyond category.” He remains one of the most influential figures in jazz, if not in all American music and is widely considered as one of the twentieth century’s best known African American personalities. As both a composer and a band leader, Ellington’s reputation has increased since his death, with thematic repackaging of his signature music often becoming best-sellers.
To salute this musical giant in your own way, Stanton’s offers the following suggestions:
For choirs, we recommend Kirby Shaw’s It Don’t Mean A Thing-Best Of Duke Ellington, a choral medley which includes “Mood Indigo,” “Satin Doll,” “Take the ‘A’ Train” and “It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing).” As a stand alone number, try Hit Me With A Hot Note arranged by Mac Huff. Both pieces are available in multiple voicings.
For solo piano or voice and piano, try Duke Ellington, American Composer. This beautiful collection features 36 songs, as well as an extensive section of text and photos with articles on Ellington the composer, the pianist, the bandleader, and the recording studio aficionado.
Marching Bands will love Salute to the Duke arr. Paul Murtha, a crowd-pleasing set that includes “It Don’t Mean A Thing” and “Satin Doll.” Give your Concert Band the very complete, Duke Ellington arr. Calvin Custer, which contains “Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me,” “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” “It Don’t Mean A Thing” and “Sophisticated Lady.”
Finally, involve your Jazz Ensemble to pay Tribute to the Duke, with an arrangement by Sammy Nestico that includes: “In A Sentimental Mood,” “Mood Indigo” and “It Don’t Mean A Thing.”