Personalities | Duke Ellington | Modern Era | Classical
Although his heartland was the chiaroscuro world of jazz, Ellington transcended its boundaries, frequently lauded as ‘America’s greatest living composer’. A fine pianist, his keyboard skills were overshadowed by his writing abilities – evident in a multitude of jazz standards – and by his arranging. With the Ellington Orchestra he created dynamic unison passages using a palette of subtle textures (epitomized in Mood Indigo). Resurgent in the 1960s, Ellington explored his fondness for extended suites, reworking Grieg’s Peer Gynt and Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker and rounded off his prolific career with a triptych of religious pieces, notably The Majesty of God (1973), performed at Westminster Abbey.
Early Ellington, Duke Ellington and His Orchestra (RCA/Sony)
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