Born: Washington, dc, 29 April 1899
Died: New York, 24 May 1974
Nationality: American jazz composer, bandleader and pianist.
He played with the Washingtonians at the Kentucky Club, New York (1923-7), then moved to the Cotton Club (1927-32) with an enlarged band under his leadership. He pioneered the 'jungle' style of big-band jazz and made over 200 recordings. In 1931 he experimented with extended composition in "Creole Rhapsody" followed by "Reminiscin in Tempo" and "Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue." The band developed further (it now had 14 pieces) and toured in the USA and Europe (1933, 1939). Ellington's writing was based on the styles of individual band members and suffered from its changes of personnel in the mid-1940s. His extended compositions continued, for the concert hall ("Black, Brown and Beige," 1943) and later for LP records (a series of 'suites'). He wrote a film score and stage music and latterly mainly liturgical music. After he died his orchestra was taken over by his son, Mercer Ellington (born: 1919).
THE GROVE CONCISE DICTIONARY OF MUSIC
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