Music Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington
by
John Wriggle, John Howland
  • LAST MODIFIED: 31 March 2016
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199757824-0178

Introduction

Composer, pianist, and bandleader Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington (b. 1899–d. 1974) stands as one of the most influential performers and composers in American music. He is often cited alongside trumpeter Louis Armstrong as one of the two towering figures of jazz, with Ellington representing the arranged ensemble complement to Armstrong’s legacy of virtuosic solo improvisation. Frequently touring across America and the world, Ellington and his orchestra set a standard for ensemble originality, style, and respect that has seldom been equaled. Challenged by racial prejudice and segregation, as well as by constant changes in the cultural status of jazz during his lifetime, the bandleader persevered to become a universal icon of African American achievement. Born and raised in Washington, DC, Ellington moved to New York City in 1923 to build a career composing and performing popular music, eventually rising to national prominence through radio broadcasts from the prestigious Cotton Club (1927–1931). He rode the rising tide of big band jazz during the Swing Era of the 1930s—his 1932 hit “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” was an anthem of the period—and in 1943 presented an original, symphonic-form work for jazz orchestra: Black, Brown and Beige. Premiered at the prestigious New York City venue Carnegie Hall, this programmatic “tone parallel” of the African American experience has since been recognized as a landmark in American music composition and a vital step toward jazz’s acceptance as a respected art form. Although Ellington produced only a handful of popular hits after the Swing Era, 21st-century scholarship has increasingly highlighted the bandleader’s post–Second World War career in addition to his earlier accomplishments: a stunningly vast catalogue of concert, theater, and dance music presented on radio, television, film, and stage.

Reference Works and Histories

Despite the number of Ellington career overviews that have been published, most follow a similar strategy of dividing their subject’s career into two eras—“early” (1920s–early 1940s) and “late” (late 1940s–1974)—usually separated by the 1943 premiere of Black, Brown, and Beige. The vast quantity of Ellington’s output has tended to reinforce a common focus on a small number of canonical works, especially in short reference or textbook publications. Bierman 2015 and Tucker 2000 present brief, accessible biographies of Ellington in the context of the jazz history canon, tracing stylistic developments through sound recordings. Green 2014 presents accessibly written essays on various facets of Ellington’s music and legacy by leading contemporary scholars. Hodeir and Schuller 1994, Larkin 2006, Piras 2013, and Tucker 1999 offer capsule biographies in encyclopedia format, accompanied by useful repertoire and bibliography listings. The extensive bibliography published on the website of the Jazzinsitut Darmstädt is more limited to 20th-century publications but notable for its international scope.

  • Bierman, Benjamin. “Duke Ellington.” In Listening to Jazz. By Benjamin Bierman, 163–175. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.

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    An accessibly written and up-to-date jazz history textbook chapter devoted to Ellington. Includes a discussion of key associates (including Bubber Miley and Billy Strayhorn), and listening guide analyses of “Black and Tan Fantasy” (1927, Victor) and “Ko-Ko” (1940).

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  • Green, Edward, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Duke Ellington. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

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    Composer and musicologist Edward Green edited this compilation of brief articles covering many aspects of Ellington’s legacy, including biography, music analysis, and reception history. Although many of the articles include brief notated music examples, the book is readily accessible to a general readership. (See Ellington Studies for selected individual article entries.) Includes a biographical timeline and extensive bibliography.

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  • Hodeir, André, and Gunther Schuller. “Duke Ellington.” In New Grove Dictionary of Jazz. Edited by Barry Kernfeld. London: St. Martin’s, 1994.

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    A jazz history survey of Ellington’s career, written by two historians who were instrumental in establishing the composer as a key figure in American music. Features brief (and inconsistent) score transcriptions, including “Ko-Ko” (1940) and “The Clothed Woman” (1947).

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  • Jazzinsitut Darmstädt.

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    The website of the Darmstädt Jazz Institute features extensive international bibliographies of major jazz figures, including Ellington. Organized by year of original publication (1923–1965). In German and English.

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  • Larkin, Colin. “Ellington, Duke.” In Encyclopedia of Popular Music. 4th ed. Vol. 3. Edited by Colin Larkin, 259–263. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

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    A fine overview of Ellington’s biography and career, including a brief bibliography and extensive discography of recommended recordings.

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  • Piras, Marcello. “Duke Ellington.” In The Grove Dictionary of American Music. 2d ed. Vol. 3. Edited by Charles Hiroshi Garrett, 121–127. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.

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    An up-to-date biographical overview and discussion of key works. Includes an extensive bibliography.

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  • Tucker, Mark. “Edward Kennedy (‘Duke’) Ellington.” In International Dictionary of Black Composers. Vol. 1. Edited by Samuel A. Floyd Jr., 411–423. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1999.

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    The definitive reference entry on Ellington as composer, featuring discussion of Ellington compositions “Mood Indigo” (1930), “Jack the Bear” (1940), Harlem (1950), and The Far East Suite (1966). Includes a list of selected compositions, and a bibliography that includes a number of dissertations.

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  • Tucker, Mark. “Duke Ellington.” In The Oxford Companion to Jazz. Edited by Bill Kirchner, 132–147. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

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    A brief overview of Ellington’s career and status in the context of the jazz history canon, identifying representative recordings and stylistic influences.

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Biographies

Many full-length biographies have been written on Ellington since his death, ranging widely in scope and reliability (see Ulanov 1975 and Collier 1987, both cited under Ellington and Jazz Historiography). Hasse 1995 is exceptional in its effective combination of accessibility, scope, and quality of research, and is highly recommended as a starting point. Cohen 2010 offers the most extensive and detailed scholarly biography of Ellington to date. Nicholson 1999 is an excellent resource for interview and media sources, including a number of Ellington’s colleagues. Tucker 1991 stands as the definitive work covering Ellington’s early career and musical development through 1927. Ellington and Dance 1979 is a more personal account, written by Ellington’s son and manager, Mercer Ellington. Jewell 1977, Lawrence 2001, and Teachout 2013 are designed for general audiences; Teachout 2013 incorporates the most reliable research but also the most opinionated criticism.

  • Cohen, Harvey G. Duke Ellington’s America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010.

    DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226112657.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An in-depth study presenting Ellington’s biography in the broader context of American culture. Highlights include extended examinations of Ellington’s 1926–1939 relationship with manager Irving Mills, the 1943 Carnegie Hall premiere of Black, Brown and Beige, and Ellington’s financial concerns.

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  • Ellington, Mercer, and Stanley Dance. Duke Ellington In Person: An Intimate Memoir. New York: Da Capo, 1979.

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    A biography from the perspective of Ellington’s son and manager, Mercer Ellington, who took over the Ellington orchestra after his father’s death. Notable for its occasionally acerbic observations of Duke’s personal life.

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  • Hasse, John. Beyond Category: The Life and Genius of Duke Ellington. New York: Da Capo, 1995.

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    An accessibly written and well-researched biography that effectively surveys Ellington’s career and achievements. Includes separate passages of criticism on selected works, and photos drawn from an impressive range of archival sources. Originally published in 1993.

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  • Jewell, Derek. Duke: A Portrait of Duke Ellington. New York: W.W. Norton, 1977.

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    One of the first biographies to emerge after Ellington’s death. Features accounts of Ellington’s personal life and career not found elsewhere, though sources are generally not cited.

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  • Lawrence, A. H. Duke Ellington and His World: A Biography. New York: Routledge, 2001.

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    A biography designed for general audiences, mostly drawing from previously published sources. Emphasis is on interviews and anecdotes from Ellington band members; contextual details occasionally reflect limited research.

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  • Nicholson, Stuart. Reminiscing in Tempo: A Portrait of Duke Ellington. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1999.

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    Presented as a series of media excerpts documenting Ellington and his colleagues, this is an impressive chronological compilation of sources including interviews, periodicals, and previously unpublished archival documents.

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  • Teachout, Terry. Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington. New York: Gotham, 2013.

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    An accessible and opinionated Ellington biography for general audiences. Presents up-to-date biographical research alongside traditionalist music criticism; Ellington’s early accomplishments are emphasized over his later works.

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  • Tucker, Mark. Ellington: The Early Years. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1991.

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    A well-researched biography covering Ellington’s pre–Cotton Club career, including analysis of Ellington’s earliest compositions and arrangements c. 1923–1927. Includes notated examples and an appendix listing early Ellington compositions and copyrights.

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Guides to Repertory and Itineraries

Discographies—reference listings of recording dates, locations, and personnel—have long held a central role in jazz studies; Ellington’s massive recording output across five decades has inspired a number of epic cataloguing efforts. Timner 2007 is the most straightforward, featuring relatively easy-to-use indexes by musician and song title, as well as a catalog of radio broadcast dates and locations. Lambert 1999 frames its discography with biographical interludes and critical essays on key works. Massagli and Volonté 1999 has the advantage of regular updates, although it is somewhat esoteric in design. Stratemann 1992 combines discography and itinerary research to document Ellington’s film and television appearances, including critical commentaries and an abundance of still photos and reprints. Vail 2002 is a well-researched and accessible itinerary documenting Ellington’s extensive travels and performances, including photos and reprint material. Hoefsmit and Homzy 1993 offers a more specialized guide to performances of Black, Brown, and Beige; Van de Leur 2000 outlines identification issues regarding manuscript holdings in the Ellington Smithsonian and Billy Strayhorn collections. For introductory research, Cook and Morton 2008 offers an effective capsule overview of Ellington’s career and key works available on CD.

  • Cook, Richard, and Brian Morton. “Ellington, Duke.” In The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings. 9th ed. Edited by Richard Cook and Brian Morton, 428–440. London: Penguin, 2008.

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    A user-friendly, selective discography with capsule reviews of recordings commercially available at time of publication. Recommended for introductory research.

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  • Hoefsmit, Sjef, and Andrew Homzy. “Chronology of Ellington’s Recordings and Performances of Black, Brown, and Beige, 1943–1973.” Black Music Research Journal 13.2 (Fall 1993): 161–173.

    DOI: 10.2307/779518Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A discography listing of Ellington performances relating to Black, Brown, and Beige and its component repertoire.

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  • Lambert, Eddie. Duke Ellington: A Listener’s Guide. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow and Institute of Jazz Studies, 1999.

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    A discographically inspired study of the Ellington orchestra’s developments in personnel and repertoire, accompanied by critical essays and recording reviews by the author.

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  • Massagli, Luciano, and Giovanni M. Volonté. The New Desor: An Updated Edition of Duke Ellington’s Story on Records, 1924–1974. 2 vols. Milan: Massagli and Volonte, 1999.

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    An ambitious discography publication endorsed by the Duke Ellington Society, which regularly posts updates and corrections. Features a somewhat gratuitous date abbreviation-coding system for entries.

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  • Stratemann, Klaus. Duke Ellington: Day by Day and Film by Film. Copenhagen: JazzMedia, 1992.

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    An in-depth itinerary and videography of Ellington’s film and television appearances. Includes publicity photo stills, media reception, and criticism by the author. The commercial release information is primarily pre-digital era, but the research data has stood up well over time.

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  • Timner, Wilhelm Ernst. Ellingtonia: The Recorded Music of Duke Ellington and His Sidemen. 5th ed. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow, 2007.

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    A chronological discography of nearly all Ellington’s recorded output, including a list of radio broadcasts and itineraries. Features musician and song title indexes; earlier editions are also worth exploring, as they include more release information and some arranger credits.

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  • Vail, Ken. Duke’s Diary: The Life of Duke Ellington. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2002.

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    Not a “diary” in the autobiographical sense, this is a useful itinerary covering most of Ellington’s career, including selected discography data and reproductions of publicity photos, reviews, and other archival documents. Originally published in 1999.

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  • Van de Leur, Walter. “‘Scores of Scores’: Einige Anmerkungen zu Manuscripten der Billy-Strayhorn- und Duke-Ellington-Sammlungen in den USA.” In Duke Ellington und die Folgen. Edited by Wolfram Knauer, 225–248. Darmstädter Beiträge zur Jazzforschung Band 6. Hofheim, Germany: Wolke Verlag, 2000.

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    An overview of manuscript collections held in the Smithsonian Duke Ellington Collection and Billy Strayhorn Collection. Features a discussion of Ellington’s short-score composition techniques, and the contributions of copyists Juan Tizol and Tom Whaley; includes reproductions of manuscripts and handwriting samples. In German.

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Writings, Interviews, and Criticism

Ellington’s role as a political and cultural figurehead of jazz and African American art prompted a number of writings and interviews by the composer, including his own autobiography. Ellington 1976 offers Ellington’s reminiscences on many of his colleagues, as well as his own upbringing and accomplishments; Ellington 1960 (originally published in 1955) presents Ellington’s version of jazz history. Tucker 1993 is an annotated compilation of Ellington writings, reviews, and criticism that effectively initiated the contemporary Ellington studies field. Gleason 1975 and Morgenstern 2004 include compilations of reviews on Ellington performances of the 1950s–1970s by two leading jazz commentators: Simon 1981 compiles a tribute essay from the author’s reviews in the 1930s–1940s, Perlis and Van Cleve 2005 compiles unique interviews by Ellington colleagues and family members. Kuebler 2012 celebrates the writings of an important Ellington archivist. (In addition to the sources listed below, unpublished Ellington scripts for stage and television productions—including Black, Brown, and Beige, A Drum Is a Woman, and Queenie Pie—are held in the Smithsonian Duke Ellington Collection (see Archival Resources).

  • Ellington, Edward Kennedy. “The Encyclopedia of Jazz.” In The Encyclopedia of Jazz. By Leonard Feather, 13–15. New York: DaCapo, 1960.

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    Originally appearing as the foreword to the Encyclopedia’s first publication in 1955, this essay features Ellington’s tracing of jazz from Africa to America, including a number of statements that can be read as efforts to establish Ellington’s own position in jazz history.

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  • Ellington, Edward Kennedy. Music Is My Mistress. New York: DaCapo, 1976.

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    Ellington’s personal blend of poetry, autobiographical reminiscences, and tributes to colleagues and acquaintances, originally published in 1973. Alternately cagey and revealing, humble and intimate, the work has served as an important reference point for scholars. An index (not included in the book) is available online.

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  • Gleason, Ralph J. “Celebrating the Duke.” In Celebrating the Duke, and Louis, Bessie, Billie, Bird, Carmen, Miles, Dizzy, and Other Heroes. 155–271. New York: DaCapo, 1975.

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    This collection of writings by San Francisco Chronicle jazz critic Ralph Gleason includes a tribute essay and compilation of reviews of the Ellington orchestra spanning the period 1952–1974.

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  • Kuebler, Annie. “The Duke at Fargo: Liner Notes from Storyville CD.” Journal of Jazz Studies 8.2 (Winter 2012): 137–162.

    DOI: 10.14713/jjs.v8i2.43Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A reprint of Smithsonian Duke Ellington Collection archivist Annie Kuebler’s liner notes accompanying the 2000 reissue of live recordings from a 1940 Ellington performance in Fargo, North Dakota.

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  • Morgenstern, Dan. “Armstrong and Ellington.” In Living with Jazz: A Reader. Edited by Sheldon Meyer, 92–136. New York: Pantheon, 2004.

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    This anthology of writings by jazz critic, historian, and former Institute of Jazz Studies director Dan Morgenstern includes twelve Ellington reviews and liner note essays (including influential LP and box-set reissues) written between 1963–1999.

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  • Perlis, Vivian, and Libby Van Cleve. “Exploring the World of Duke Ellington.” In Composers’ Voices from Ives to Ellington: An Oral History of American Music. By Vivian Perlis and Libby Van Cleve, 351–415. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2005.

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    A compilation of annotated oral histories recorded by Ellington, as well as a range of family members, musicians, and friends, including son Mercer Ellington, bassist Aaron Bell, and choreographer Alvin Ailey. Accompanying compact disc features recordings of Ellington in live performance.

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  • Simon, George T. “Duke Ellington.” In The Big Bands. 4th ed. By George T. Simon, 187–196. New York: Schirmer, 1981.

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    Music critic George T. Simon included a chapter on Ellington in his celebration of Swing Era big bands, drawing from reviews and interviews originally published in Metronome magazine during the 1930s–1940s.

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  • Tucker, Mark, ed. The Duke Ellington Reader. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

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    A landmark compilation of Ellington writings and interviews, including previously unpublished archival documents in addition to reprints of reviews and tributes. Organized by time period or selected topics, including Ellington’s reception in Europe, and Black, Brown, and Beige.

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Tributes and Journal Special Issues

Ellington’s centennial in 1999 inspired a wave of tribute events and publications in the academic and arts communities, including Byrd and Cumbie 1999, a lavish collector’s publication for Jazz at Lincoln Center, and special issue scholarly compilations including Franco 1999 (Italian) and Knauer 2000 (German). Tucker 1993 was issued in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the premiere of Black, Brown, and Beige. Howland 2013 and Van de Leur 2012 are academic journal special issues that reflect the continued growing interest in Ellington studies. Peress 2004 offers a unique tribute memoir from an Ellington colleague and collaborator, including discussion of some of Ellington’s last projects. James and James 2014 offers a brief portrait of the bandleader by his nephew, Stephen D. James.

  • Byrd, Veronica, and James Tye Cumbie, eds. Jump for Joy: Jazz at Lincoln Center Celebrates the Ellington Centennial, 1899–1999. New York: Museum, 1999.

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    A collection of interviews and tribute essays by jazz critic Stanley Crouch, Jazz at Lincoln Center director Wynton Marsalis, historian Albert Murray, and others. Features color reproductions of Ellington photos and music.

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  • Franco, Maurizio, ed. Special Issue: Ellington 1899/1999. Musica Oggi (1999).

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    A compilation of papers from a 1999 Ellington centennial conference held in parallel with the Bergamo Jazz Festival in Italy. In Italian but English-language abstracts and some translations available online.

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  • Howland, John, ed. Special Issue: Duke Ellington. Musical Quarterly 96.3–4 (Fall–Winter 2013).

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    Musicologist John Howland edited this compilation of articles featuring a range of contemporary scholarship, including topics of media studies, repertoire, and international politics.

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  • James, Stephen D., and J. Walker James. “Conductor of Music and Men: Duke Ellington Through the Eyes of His Nephew.” In The Cambridge Companion to Duke Ellington. Edited by Edward Green, 42–54. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

    DOI: 10.1017/CCO9781139021357.006Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Reminiscences of Ellington by his nephew, who travelled with Ellington during his later career. Includes observations of Ellington’s relationships and interactions with his musicians and collaborators, including saxophonist Paul Gonsalves and composer-arranger Billy Strayhorn.

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  • Knauer, Wolfram, ed. Duke Ellington und die Folgen. Darmstädter Beiträge zur Jazzforschung Band 6. Hofheim, Germany: Wolke Verlag, 2000.

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    Darmstädt Jazz Institute director Wolfram Knauer edited this collection of articles stemming from a 1999 Ellington centennial conference in Germany, including cultural studies, repertoire analyses, reception histories, and historiographic studies. (See Ellington Studies listings for individual article entries.)

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  • Peress, Maurice. “Duke Ellington”; “Ellington’s ‘Queenie Pie’”; “Ellington’s ‘Black, Brown and Beige’”; “A New African American Orchestra.” In Dvorák to Duke Ellington: A Conductor Explores America’s Music and Its African American Roots. By Maurice Peress, 153–200. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

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    This work includes four autobiographical essays by Ellington orchestrator and conductor Maurice Peress, focusing on two projects from the early 1970s: Queenie Pie, and a symphonic orchestration of Black, Brown, and Beige.

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  • Tucker, Mark, ed. Special Issue: Duke Ellington’s Black, Brown and Beige. Black Music Research Journal 13.2 (Fall 1993).

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    Ellington scholar Mark Tucker edited this collection of articles on the fiftieth anniversary of the premiere of Black, Brown, and Beige. Includes tributes, music analyses, performance listings, and reception histories. (See Ellington Studies listings for selected individual article entries.)

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  • Van de Leur, Walter, ed. Special Issue: Duke Ellington. Jazz Perspectives 6.1–2 (Spring–Fall 2012).

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    Jazz orchestra scholar Walter van de Leur edited this compilation of articles that includes cultural studies, repertoire analyses, and historiographic studies. (See Ellington Studies listings for individual article entries.)

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Videography

Since his early career, Ellington often found himself representing the face of jazz on film. The selections below focus on DVD issues of early career film appearances and feature-length documentaries devoted to Ellington. Many televised appearances are also available from various sources, though often in the form of bootleg releases, or with distribution only outside the United States. Not included here are Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s celebrated feature film scores for Anatomy of a Murder (Columbia, 1959) and Paris Blues (MGM, 1961), which are commercially available in various formats. Carter 2007 presents a biographical overview and tribute designed for general audiences. Drew 2002, Ellington 2005, Ellington 2007a, and Keys 2002 are reissues of documentary productions that feature Ellington performance and interview footage from the late 1960s. Ellington 2004a and Ellington 2004b present compilations of black-and-white theatrical film shorts, excerpts of Hollywood feature film appearances, and jukebox “soundies” dating from 1929 through the early 1950s; Ellington 2007b is a complete live concert performance in Amsterdam.

  • Carter, Terry, dir. A Duke Named Ellington. DVD. New York: Council for Positive Images, 2007.

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    Originally broadcast on the PBS American Masters series in 1988, this documentary features performance footage and musician interviews in a broad tribute to Ellington’s career.

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  • Drew, Robert, dir. On the Road with Duke Ellington. DVD. New York: Docurama, 2002.

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    Originally broadcast on the NBC Bell Telephone Hour in 1967 (and re-edited after Ellington’s death in 1974), this color documentary follows Ellington on the road c. 1967; includes brief interviews with Ellington and rehearsals of material from the Concert of Sacred Music.

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  • Ellington, Duke. Duke Ellington in Hollywood. DVD. Andorra: Idem Home Video, 2004a.

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    A compilation of seminal early film appearances. Includes film shorts Black and Tan (1929), Symphony in Black (1935), Making Records with Duke (1937), RKO Jamboree No. 7 (1943), and Bundle of Blues (1933), and excerpts from feature films Check and Double Check (1930), Hit Parade of 1937 (1936), and Belle of the Nineties (1934).

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  • Ellington, Duke. Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton. DVD. Andorra: Idem Home Video, 2004b.

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    The Ellington portion of this disc features black and white Snader transcription jukebox “soundies.” Includes seven performances by Ellington’s orchestra of the early 1950s, as well as five dramatized film shorts c. 1941, including “Flamingo” and “Hot Chocolate.”

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  • Ellington, Duke. Love You Madly and A Concert of Sacred Music at Grace Cathedral. DVD. Eugene, OR: Eagle Eye Media, 2005.

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    Jazz critic Ralph Gleason’s black and white television documentary Love You Madly follows Ellington’s 1965 visit to San Francisco, where the band performs at a nightclub date and a local public television broadcast records the performance of Ellington’s first Concert of Sacred Music.

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  • Ellington, Duke. Duke Ellington at the Côte d’Azur with Ella Fitzgerald and Joan Miro; Duke: The Last Jam Session. Eugene, OR: Eagle Eye Media, 2007a.

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    Jazz producer Norman Granz’s black and white documentary follows Ellington’s 1966 appearance at the Antibes–Juan les Pins jazz festival in France, including an orchestra rehearsal sequence and a trio performance at the Foundation Maeght. Orchestra highlights include a medley of “Black and Tan Fantasy,” “Creole Love Call,” and “The Mooche.” Also featured are extensive excerpts from a running video (in color) of a 1973 studio recording session featuring Ellington in a quartet setting (The Big Four).

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  • Ellington, Duke. Duke Ellington: Live in ’58. DVD. San Diego: Reelin’ in the Years, 2007b.

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    Black and white concert film of the Ellington orchestra’s Amsterdam Concertgebouw performance of 2 November 1958 in excellent sound quality. Performance highlights include “Harlem Airshaft” and Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue.

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  • Keys, Gary, dir. Duke Ellington: Memories of Duke. Oaks, PA: Music Video Distributors, 2002.

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    Originally released in 1980, this color documentary features excerpts of live performances from Ellington’s 1968 Mexico tour, including portions of what would become the Latin American Suite. Also features brief interviews with Ellington orchestra clarinetist-saxophonist Russell Procope and trumpeter Cootie Williams.

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Ellington Studies

Ellington’s long career, his role as a cultural and political figurehead, and his prolific output across a range of mediums—including audio recordings, radio and television broadcasts, film, musical theater, dance, interviews, and essays—offer a wealth of material for academic study. An equally vast legacy of responses to Ellington’s work (again covering a range of mediums) provides another layer of historical texts. Further aided by the entry of “jazz studies” into the academic arena during the 1980s and 1990s (the pioneering research of musicologist Mark Tucker was especially influential), “Ellington studies” now covers a broad a range of scholarly disciplines and fields, including race, gender, politics, film, literature, reception histories, media, and music analysis.

Big Band and Piano Repertory

Ellington’s high-profile performance career as leader/arranger/pianist of his own orchestra has traditionally drawn the most attention from both fans and scholars. Recent studies have often focused on a specific performance or work—many of which were revisited by Ellington at various stages of his career. Bañagale 2012, Baumgartner 2012, and Berish 2012 offer scholarly studies of specific compositions in Ellington’s big band repertoire, including historical context, performance practices, and adaptations. Ellington’s legacy as a jazz pianist has also proven an increasingly attractive topic for study: Cooper 2013, Dobbins 2014, Dobbins 2000, Krieger 2000, and Martin 2003–2004 analyze Ellington’s piano technique and stylistic development and include transcribed music examples.

  • Bañagale, Ryan. “Rewriting the Narrative One Arrangement at a Time: Duke Ellington and Rhapsody in Blue.” Jazz Perspectives 6.1–2 (2012): 5–27.

    DOI: 10.1080/17494060.2012.721287Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Traces the cultural context and musical evolution of three Ellington orchestra arrangements of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue (1925, 1932, and 1963). Includes notated music examples.

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  • Baumgartner, Michael. “Duke Ellington’s ‘East St. Louis Toodle-Oo’ Revisited.” Jazz Perspectives 6.1–2 (2012): 29–56.

    DOI: 10.1080/17494060.2012.729703Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A study of the origins and evolution of Ellington’s early-career theme song “East St. Louis Toodle-Oo” from 1926 to 1972. Includes manuscript reprints and notated music examples.

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  • Berish, Andrew. “A Locomotive Laboratory of Place: Duke Ellington and His Orchestra.” In Lonesome Roads and Streets of Dreams: Place, Mobility, and Race in Jazz of the 1930s and 1940s. By Andrew Berish, 119–166. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012.

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    A cultural study of a 1946 Ellington concert in Chicago, focusing on geography and demographics during the Swing Era. Features an analytic reading of Ellington’s “Air Conditioned Jungle” and The Deep South Suite, including notated music examples.

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  • Cooper, Matthew J. Duke Ellington as Pianist: A Study of Styles. Missoula, MT: The College Music Society, 2013.

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    An in-depth study of Ellington’s piano playing across his career, with discussions ranging from stride technique to harmonic analysis to rhythm section interaction. Features over forty transcribed musical examples.

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  • Dobbins, Bill. “‘Mood Indigo’: Die harmonische Sprache Duke Ellingtons.” In Duke Ellington und die Folgen. Edited by Wolfram Knauer, 207–224. Darmstädter Beiträge zur Jazzforschung Band 6. Hofheim, Germany: Wolke Verlag, 2000.

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    Examines the evolution of Ellington’s harmonic piano accompaniment in performances of “Mood Indigo” from 1930 to 1966. Includes notated transcriptions. In German.

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  • Dobbins, Bill. “Duke Ellington and the World of Jazz Piano.” In The Cambridge Companion to Duke Ellington. Edited by Edward Green, 197–211. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

    DOI: 10.1017/CCO9781139021357.018Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An overview of developments in Ellington’s jazz piano style across his career, including stylistic comparisons to other pianists such as James P. Johnson and Thelonious Monk. Includes transcribed music examples.

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  • Krieger, Franz. “‘Piano in the Foreground?’: Zum Klavierstil Duke Ellingtons.” In Duke Ellington und die Folgen. Edited by Wolfram Knauer, 131–156. Darmstädter Beiträge zur Jazzforschung Band 6. Hofheim, Germany: Wolke Verlag, 2000.

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    Reconsiders Ellington’s reputation as a jazz pianist, examining a number of performances across his career, focusing on the broad range of influences including stride, impressionism, and blues. Includes notated solo transcriptions. In German.

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  • Martin, Henry. “From Fountain to Furious: Ellington’s Development as Stride Pianist.” In Stride Piano: Le Radici del Pianoforte Jazz. Musica Oggi 23 (2003–2004): 55–68.

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    A study of Ellington’s stride piano composition and performance practices, focusing on the influence of James P. Johnson. Features a formal and harmonic analyses of “Soda Fountain Rag” (c. 1914) and “Fast and Furious” (1932); includes notated examples and transcribed solos.

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Jazz Traditions

Although Ellington famously avoided labeling his music “jazz,” his legacy has remained integral in efforts to define what jazz in fact is. The studies cited here approach Ellington from broader jazz studies contexts: African American rhetorical practices, performance techniques, spheres of musical influence, and other musicians’ interpretations of Ellington’s music. Berish 2009 examines musical and social issues in the brief relationship between Ellington and virtuoso guitarist Django Reinhardt. Dietrich 1995 discusses the influence of the Ellington orchestra on brass mute performance in jazz. Bierman 2014, Jost 2000, and Moten 2003 consider Ellington’s influence on the aesthetics and practices on younger generations of jazz musicians. Lomanno 2012 discusses the various aesthetic concerns reflected in two Ellington tribute projects built around The Far East Suite, and Tucker 1999 discusses the context and content of Thelonious Monk’s 1955 Ellington tribute album. Wilson 2000 explores performance and style issues in Ellington’s 1962 trio album Money Jungle.

  • Berish, Andrew. “Negotiating a Blues Riff: Listening for Django Reinhardt’s Place in American Jazz.” Jazz Perspectives 3.3 (2009): 233–264.

    DOI: 10.1080/17494060903454537Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A study of European guitarist Django Reinhardt’s brief tenure with the Ellington orchestra (1946), including analysis of performances in cultural contexts of geography and demography. Includes notated examples of transcribed solos.

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  • Bierman, Benjamin. “Duke Ellington’s Legacy and Influence.” In The Cambridge Companion to Duke Ellington. Edited by Edward Green, 262–273. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

    DOI: 10.1017/CCO9781139021357.022Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An accessibly written overview of Ellington’s range of influence on younger generations of jazz musicians, including Charles Mingus, Gerald Wilson, Cecil Taylor, Clark Terry, and Quincy Jones.

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  • Dietrich, Kurt. “The Ellington Trombone Plunger Tradition: Yesterday and Today.” Jazz Research Papers 15 (1995): 38–44.

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    An overview of the brass plunger-mute tradition both within and outside the Ellington orchestra. Features discussion of the Ellington orchestra’s influence on contemporary trombonists Ray Anderson and Steve Turre.

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  • Jost, Ekkehard. “‘Open Letter to Duke’: Was Charles Mingus an Duke Ellington schrieb.” In Duke Ellington und die Folgen. Edited by Wolfram Knauer, 115–130. Darmstädter Beiträge zur Jazzforschung Band 6. Hofheim, Germany: Wolke Verlag, 2000.

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    Explores Ellington’s influences on the music and performance practices of bassist and composer Charles Mingus, including approaches to personnel selection and compositional form. In German.

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  • Lomanno, Mark. “Ellington’s Lens as Motive Mediating: Improvising Voices in The Far East Suite.” Jazz Perspectives 6.1–2 (2012): 151–177.

    DOI: 10.1080/17494060.2012.721293Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A call for intertextual study of jazz texts, exploring the cultural and musical aesthetics of Ellington’s Far East Suite (1966). Discusses the approaches of contemporary musicians Anthony Brown and Tony Overstreet in new interpretations of the original Ellington and Strayhorn material.

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  • Moten, Fred. “The Sentimental Avant-Garde.” In In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition. By Fred Moten, 25–84. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003.

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    A Freudian reading of the erotic and avant-garde black art aesthetics of Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, and other jazz artists, including Cecil Taylor and Charles Mingus.

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  • Tucker, Mark. “Mainstreaming Monk: The Ellington Album.” Black Music Research Journal 19.2 (Autumn 1999): 227–244.

    DOI: 10.2307/779344Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A study of the origins, reception, and musical content of pianist Thelonious Monk’s 1955 album Plays Duke Ellington. Includes notated examples of transcribed solo excerpts reflecting Monk’s performances of “Black and Tan Fantasy,” “I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart,” and “Mood Indigo.”

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  • Wilson, Peter Niklas. “‘Money Jungle’: Fäden eines Beziehungsnetzes.” In Duke Ellington und die Folgen. Edited by Wolfram Knauer, 95–114. Darmstädter Beiträge zur Jazzforschung Band 6. Hofheim: Wolke Verlag, 2000.

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    Explores the controversies of stylistic incongruity in Ellington’s 1962 trio album Money Jungle, which features modern jazz bassist Charles Mingus and drummer Max Roach. Includes excerpts of notated solo transcriptions. In German.

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Compositional Methods and Musical Analysis

Ellington’s reputation as a composer has frequently been embraced in efforts to legitimize jazz’s place on the formal concert stage. The studies cited here consider technical composition topics through music theory and analysis, though many draw upon other disciplines as well. Berger 2014, Green 2008, Rattenbury 1990, and Schuller 1989 explore Ellington’s composition and orchestration technique by drawing upon and comparing examples from multiple works. Cox 2012, Green 2011, and Crawford 1993 focus on formal, programmatic, and motivic components within specific works. Schiff 2012 offers a wide-ranging discussion of Ellington’s composition strategies in the context of classical composers and other jazz figures.

  • Berger, David. “The Process of Becoming: Composition and Recomposition.” In The Cambridge Companion to Duke Ellington. Edited by Edward Green, 31–41. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

    DOI: 10.1017/CCO9781139021357.005Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Educator David Berger, a pioneer in the field of Ellington score transcription, presents an accessibly written overview of Ellington’s compositional aesthetic, and approach to writing for members of his orchestra. Includes brief notated score transcription excerpts.

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  • Cox, Felix. “Duke Ellington as Composer: Two Pieces for Paul Whiteman.” Jazz Perspectives 6.1–2 (2012): 57–74.

    DOI: 10.1080/17494060.2012.721290Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A discussion of the historical context, formal design, and thematic content of Ellington’s 1938 Blue Belles in Harlem, and Ellington’s and Billy Strayhorn’s 1944 composition Blutopia—both composed for Paul Whiteman, an influential and controversial white orchestra leader dedicated to presenting jazz as concert music. Includes notated music examples.

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  • Crawford, Richard. “Duke Ellington (1899–1974) and His Orchestra.” In The American Musical Landscape. 184–221. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.

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    A study of Ellington’s compositional approach to his orchestra, and the contributions of his orchestra members. Features an extended discussion of techniques of “unity and variety” in Diminuendo and Crescendo and Blue, and notated score reductions from various sources.

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  • Green, Edward. “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Grundgestalt! Ellington from a Motivic Perspective.” Jazz Perspectives 2.2 (2008): 215–249.

    DOI: 10.1080/17494060802373416Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A study of Ellington’s thematic development practices, drawing from Arnold Schoenberg’s Grundgestalt theory. Features analyses of “The Mooche” (1928), “Ko-Ko” (1940), and The Far East Suite (1966), with notated music examples.

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  • Green, Edward. “‘Harlem Air Shaft’: A True Programmatic Composition?” Journal of Jazz Studies 7 (2011): 28–46.

    DOI: 10.14713/jjs.v7i1.9Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A study of the musical influences and cultural texts reflected in Ellington’s 1940 song “Harlem Air Shaft.” Includes notated music examples and manuscript reprints.

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  • Rattenbury, Ken. Duke Ellington: Jazz Composer. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1990.

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    Controversial in its reliance on the author’s (sometimes inaccurate) transcriptions, Rattenbury offers detailed harmonic analyses of selected Ellington works, including “Concerto for Cootie” (1940).

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  • Schiff, David. The Ellington Century. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012.

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    A detailed and nuanced study of Ellington’s composition legacy, drawing aesthetic parallels to modernist European art music composers including Arnold Schoenberg, Igor Stravinsky, and Maurice Ravel, and jazz composers Eric Dolphy and Charles Mingus. Highlights include extended considerations of “Cotton Tail” (1940) and Black, Brown, and Beige (1943).

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  • Schuller, Gunther. “Duke Ellington: Master Composer.” In The Swing Era: The Development of Jazz, 1930–1945. By Gunther Schuller, 46–157. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

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    An ambitious series of musical analyses of Ellington’s composing and arranging style, in the context of the Swing Era big-band jazz idiom. Highlights include extended considerations of Reminiscing in Tempo (1935) and Black, Brown, and Beige (1943), including transcribed score reduction excerpts.

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Extended Works

Beginning with Creole Rhapsody in 1931, Ellington’s “extended” or “long-form” works have been recognized—and perhaps designed—to set him apart from his jazz and popular music peers. Ellington returned to this strategy throughout his career, often creating extended works for important events or commissions. In addition, the emergence of the LP record format by the 1950s inspired a number of “concept” albums, typically presenting multiple component works organized into an extended suite; themes include travelogues like The Far East Suite (1966), religious programs like The Concert of Sacred Music (1965), and reworkings of European classical repertoire like The Nutcracker Suite (1960). Berger 2014 provides an overview of some key extended works across Ellington’s career. Hill 1994, Howland 2009, Schiff 2013, Williams 2012, and Zenni 2001 present analyses that notably feature discussions of formal structure—traditionally a central point of criticism regarding Ellington’s extended works. Cooke 2002 and Knauer 2000 include discussions of programmatic representation and reception history regarding LP-era suite-form works.

  • Berger, David. “The Land of Suites: Ellington and Extended Form.” In The Cambridge Companion to Duke Ellington. Edited by Edward Green, 245–261. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

    DOI: 10.1017/CCO9781139021357.021Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An accessibly written overview of Ellington’s extended compositions and suite-form works, including brief notated transcriptions of key thematic material.

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  • Cooke, Mervyn. “Jazz Among the Classics, and the Case of Duke Ellington.” In The Cambridge Companion to Jazz. Edited by Mervyn Cooke and David Horn, 153–173. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

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    A consideration of the aesthetic role of composition in jazz. Features an outline of Ellington’s and Billy Strayhorn’s reworking of Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suites and a discussion of its reception in Scandinavia, where their arrangements were banned.

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  • Hill, Wilbert Weldon. “The Sacred Concerts of Edward Kennedy ‘Duke’ Ellington.” PhD diss., Catholic University of America, 1994.

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    A detailed analysis of Ellington’s three Concerts of Sacred Music. Includes a discussion of the historical context of jazz and sacred music, the origins of Ellington’s sacred material, and compositional approaches to harmony and formal structure, as well as notated music examples.

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  • Howland, John. “Ellingtonian Extended Composition and the Symphonic Jazz Model”; “‘Carnegie Blues’ and the Symphonic Ellington.” In Ellington Uptown: Duke Ellington, James P. Johnson and the Birth of Concert Jazz. By John Howland, 143–199, 246–293. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2009.

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    A study of the emergence of symphonic jazz in interwar culture, and musical responses to the genre created by Ellington and other Harlem composers. Features formal and motivic analyses of Creole Rhapsody (1931), Reminiscing in Tempo (1935), Black, Brown and Beige (1943), New World a Comin’ (1943), and A Tone Parallel to Harlem (1950). Includes notated examples of excerpt score reductions.

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  • Knauer, Wolfram. “‘Reminiscing in Tempo’: Tradition und musikästhetische Ideale in Ellingtons kompositorischem Oeuvre.” In Duke Ellington und die Folgen. Edited by Wolfram Knauer, 33–58. Darmstädter Beiträge zur Jazzforschung Band 6. Hofheim, Germany: Wolke Verlag, 2000.

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    Explores Ellington’s representations of African American musical history, focusing on the stylistic references heard in The Controversial Suite (1951). Includes brief notated music examples. In German.

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  • Schiff, David. “Symphonic Ellington? Rehearing New World A-Comin.’” Musical Quarterly 96.3–4 (Fall–Winter 2013): 459–477.

    DOI: 10.1093/musqtl/gdt011Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A consideration of the design and content of Ellington’s piano concerto New World A-Comin’ (1943), focusing on the works’ place in Ellington’s post–Black, Brown, and Beige repertoire. Includes brief notated examples of key themes and solo piano passages.

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  • Williams, Katherine. “Improvisation as Composition: Fixity of Form and Collaborative Composition in Duke Ellington’s Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue.” Jazz Perspectives 6.1–2 (2012): 223–246.

    DOI: 10.1080/17494060.2012.729712Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A study of Ellington’s approaches to solos and improvisation in the context of written extended form, focusing on performances of Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue from 1938, 1953, and 1956. Includes notated examples of transcribed solo excerpts.

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  • Zenni, Stefano. “The Aesthetics of Duke Ellington’s Suites: The Case of ‘Togo Brava.’” Black Music Research Journal 21.1 (Spring 2001): 1–28.

    DOI: 10.2307/3181592Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A study of Ellington’s fluid approach to suite programming, focusing on the evolution of musical content in the Togo Brava Suite (1971).

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Black, Brown, and Beige

Tentatively received upon its Carnegie Hall premiere in January 1943, Ellington’s Black, Brown, and Beige has since become widely accepted as a masterpiece of 20th-century music. The forty-minute symphonic-form composition for jazz orchestra presents Ellington’s programmatic “tone parallel” of the African American experience and set a crucial landmark for the presentation of jazz as concert art music. While Black, Brown, and Beige figures prominently in many of the Ellington studies listed in this bibliography, the studies cited here are dedicated to the topic. Tucker 1993 traces historical and musical influences that led up to Ellington’s composition. Barg and Van de Leur 2013, Burrows 2007, and DeVeaux 1993, and Gaines 2000 explore the political and social context of the work, as well as its critical reception. Dietrich 1993 and Knauer 1990 offer music analyses of theme and orchestration; Homzy 1993 traces musical adaptations to the work throughout Ellington’s career.

  • Barg, Lisa, and Walter van de Leur. “‘Your Music Has Flung the Story of ‘Hot Harlem’ to the Four Corners of the Earth!’: Race and Narrative in Black, Brown and Beige.” Musical Quarterly 96.3–4 (Fall–Winter 2013): 426–458.

    DOI: 10.1093/musqtl/gdt009Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A study of the reception history and controversies surrounding the “extra-musical” programmatic content of Black, Brown, and Beige, drawing on archival scripts and media accounts.

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  • Burrows, George. “Black, Brown and Beige and the Politics of Signifyin(g): Towards a Critical Understanding of Duke Ellington.” Jazz Research Journal 1.1 (2007): 45–71.

    DOI: 10.1558/jazz.v1i1.45Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A cultural theory study of Ellington’s racial politics in the context of Foucaldian polemics and Gatesian signification, focusing on a reading of Black, Brown, and Beige. Includes notated music examples.

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  • DeVeaux, Scott. “Black, Brown, and Beige and the Critics.” Black Music Research Journal 13.2 (Fall 1993): 125–146.

    DOI: 10.2307/779516Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A historiographic study of Black, Brown, and Beige’s critical reception, featuring a reconsideration of early controversies surrounding the music and its premiere performance.

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  • Dietrich, Kurt. “The Role of Trombones in Black, Brown, and Beige.” Black Music Research Journal 13.2 (Fall 1993): 111–124.

    DOI: 10.2307/779515Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An analysis of Ellington’s approach to trombone section scoring and solo performances in Black, Brown, and Beige. Includes notated examples of excerpt score reductions and transcribed solos.

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  • Gaines, Kevin. “Duke Ellington, Black, Brown, and Beige, and the Cultural Politics of Race.” In Music and the Racial Imagination. Edited by Ronald Radano and Philip Bohlman, 585–602. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

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    A good general introduction to the subject, this is a broad discussion of the political and cultural context of Ellington’s Black, Brown, and Beige, as well as its reception history.

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  • Homzy, Andrew. “Black, Brown and Beige in Duke Ellington’s Repertoire, 1943–1973.” Black Music Research Journal 13.2 (Fall 1993): 87–110.

    DOI: 10.2307/779514Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A discussion of Ellington’s later adaptations of repertory from Black, Brown, and Beige through the remainder of his career.

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  • Knauer, Wolfram. “Simulated Improvisation” in Duke Ellington’s Black, Brown and Beige.” The Black Perspective in Music 18 (1990): 20–38.

    DOI: 10.2307/1214856Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An analysis of the role of instrumental solos in Black, Brown, and Beige. Includes notated examples of transcribed solos and a discography of performances relating to the work.

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  • Tucker, Mark. “The Genesis of Black, Brown and Beige.” Black Music Research Journal 13.2 (Fall 1993): 67–86.

    DOI: 10.2307/779513Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A study of the artistic influences Ellington drew upon in creating Black, Brown, and Beige, including stage musicals, Harlem Renaissance literature, and preceding projects including the un-produced opera Boola.

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Blues and Popular Song

Ellington’s jazz repertoire often crossed into realms of popular music and blues, blurring distinctions between idioms and challenging commercial categories. In particular, vocal performances of Tin Pan Alley material have long been a controversial topic in critical debates over commercialism and jazz authenticity, while the blues has often been heard as a central component of Ellington’s musical identity. Howland 2014 gives overviews on some of the public and professional discourses between art and entertainment during Ellington’s early career. Berish 2013 and Friedwald 2014 explore the context and lyrical content of Ellington’s popular song repertoire. Givan 2014 considers Ellington’s approach to blues repertoire as performer and arranger, while Williams 2012 analyzes a seminal blues performance by Ellington’s saxophonist Johnny Hodges. Lavezzoli 2001 offers a tribute to Ellington’s legacy as inspiration for popular music performers, including figures from outside the mainstream jazz tradition.

  • Berish, Andrew. “Leisure, Love, and Dreams in Depression America: Duke Ellington and Tin Pan Alley Song.” The Musical Quarterly 96.3–4 (Fall–Winter 2013): 339–368.

    DOI: 10.1093/musqtl/gdt019Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A discussion of social and historical context regarding Ellington’s relationship with Swing Era Tin Pan Alley repertoire, focusing on recordings of “Cocktails for Two” (1934) and “At a Dixie Roadside Diner” (1941).

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  • Friedwald, Will. “Sing a Song of Ellington; or, the Accidental Songwriter.” In The Cambridge Companion to Duke Ellington. Edited by Edward Green, 228–244. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

    DOI: 10.1017/CCO9781139021357.020Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An effective overview of lyric settings to Ellington instrumental compositions, featuring brief analyses of popular standards like “Mood Indigo,” “In a Sentimental Mood,” and “I Got It Bad.” Includes brief notated music examples.

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  • Givan, Benjamin. “Ellington and the Blues.” In The Cambridge Companion to Duke Ellington. Edited by Edward Green, 173–185. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

    DOI: 10.1017/CCO9781139021357.016Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A brief study of Ellington’s approach to blues repertoire, focusing on approaches to harmony and form. Features a transcribed excerpt from a 1972 recording of “See See Rider.”

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  • Howland, John. “Artful Entertainment: Ellington’s Formative Years in Context.” In The Cambridge Companion to Duke Ellington. Edited by Edward Green, 21–30. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

    DOI: 10.1017/CCO9781139021357.004Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An accessibly written overview of relations and tensions between popular entertainment and art music during Ellington’s early career in New York, as the bandleader built his reputation working in both areas.

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  • Lavezzoli, Peter. The King of All, Sir Duke: Ellington and the Artistic Revolution. New York: Continuum, 2001.

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    Essays on the topic of Ellington’s influence on a number of jazz and popular musicians, including Steely Dan, Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder, and Frank Zappa. Includes interview excerpts and photos.

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  • Williams, J. Kent. “Hodges at Newport: The Rhetoric of ‘Jeep’s Blues.’” Jazz Perspectives 6.1–2 (2012): 247–263.

    DOI: 10.1080/17494060.2012.729708Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A study of saxophonist Johnny Hodges’s improvisations on “Jeep’s Blues” at Ellington’s 1956 Newport Jazz Festival performance. Features a discussion of the merits and limitations of signification, motivic, and Schenkarian analysis. Includes notated examples of transcribed solos.

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Stage Productions, Program Music, and the Cotton Club

Long omitted from 20th-century jazz histories, Ellington’s work in stage entertainment—a major facet of his career—has gradually begun to receive more scholarly attention. This includes reappraisal of Ellington’s iconic association with New York’s Cotton Club stage productions, which were typically built around themes of racially stereotyped “jungle” exoticism. Ellington’s frequent collaboration with dancers and choreographers is another field that has only just begun to be examined. Fransceschina 2001 is a valuable resource for production histories and content of Ellington stage projects; Willard 1999 likewise identifies a number of lesser-known productions. Gioia 1997 provides a brief overview of the 1920s–1930s Cotton Club scene, while Haskins 1977 provides a more extensive overview of the club’s stature in American popular entertainment. Teal 2012 discusses evolution of Ellington’s “jungle style” associated with the racially segregated Cotton Club venue. Piras 2014 traces themes that emerge in Ellington’s descriptive titles and programmatic orchestrations. Peress 2004 recounts his experiences working on one of Ellington’s last stage projects, Queenie Pie.

  • Fransceschina, John. Duke Ellington’s Music for the Theatre. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2001.

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    A collection of well-researched overviews, reception histories, and brief musical analyses of Ellington theater works including The Cotton Club Parade (1938), Jump for Joy (1941, 1959), Beggar’s Holiday (1946), Turcaret (1961), Timon of Athens (1963), My People (1963), Pousse-Café (1966), The River (1970), and Queenie Pie (1986). Includes an appendix listing Ellington’s compositions for stage.

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  • Gioia, Ted. The History of Jazz. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.

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    A jazz history survey including overviews of Ellington’s early and later career. The earlier portion features a discussion of the cultural context and musical performers associated with the 1920s–1930s Cotton Club.

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  • Haskins, Jim. The Cotton Club. New York: Random House, 1977.

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    A general history of the iconic nightclub and the performers associated with it, including Ellington. Much of the research draws from (and is often limited to) documentation in the New York Times; numerous reproductions of photos, programs, and publicity are also included.

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  • Magee, Jeffrey. “Ellington’s Afro-Modernist Vision in the 1920s.” In The Cambridge Companion to Duke Ellington. Edited by Edward Green, 85–105. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

    DOI: 10.1017/CCO9781139021357.010Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines Ellington’s late 1920s programmatic composition strategies in the context of period racial discourses, focusing on the period of Ellington’s association with the Cotton Club. Features discussions of “The Mooche” (1928) and Creole Rhapsody (1931), including transcribed music examples.

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  • Peress, Maurice. “Ellington’s ‘Queenie Pie.’” In Dvorák to Duke Ellington: A Conductor Explores America’s Music and Its African American Roots. By Maurice Peress, 161–170. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

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    Reminiscences of conductor Maurice Peress on his work with Ellington toward the production of the stage musical Queenie Pie c. 1972–1973. Includes some reproductions of archival manuscripts.

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  • Piras, Marcello. “Duke and Descriptive Music.” In The Cambridge Companion to Duke Ellington. Edited by Edward Green, 212–227. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

    DOI: 10.1017/CCO9781139021357.019Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An accessibly written overview of Ellington’s legacy of programmatic works, including stage productions at the Cotton Club, motivic compositional techniques, and treatments of religious faith. Includes brief notated music examples.

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  • Teal, Kimberley Hannon. “Beyond the Cotton Club: The Persistence of Duke Ellington’s Jungle Style.” Jazz Perspectives 6.1–2 (2012): 123–149.

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    A study of Ellington’s Cotton Club musical aesthetic—“jungle style”—and how it evolved rhetorically and contextually through his later career, focusing on Ellington’s “La Plus Belle Africaine” (1966).

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  • Willard, Patricia. “Dance: The Unsung Element of Ellingtonia.” Antioch Review 57.3 (Summer 1999): 402–414.

    DOI: 10.2307/4613888Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An overview of Ellington’s music for dance, citing a number of projects throughout his career. Discussion includes productions of Jump for Joy (1941, 1959), Liberian Suite (1952) and A Drum Is a Woman (1957), and work with choreographers Lester Horton and Alvin Ailey.

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Literature and Shakespeare

Ellington’s frequent musical references to literary sources, and stature in literary responses to African American music, have provided fertile ground for cross-disciplinary studies. Treatments of works by William Shakespeare have been a particularly favorite topic—especially the 1957 concept album Such Sweet Thunder, dedicated to the Stratford Shakespearean Festival in Ontario. Edwards 2004 and Lenz 2000 discuss Ellington’s interactions with—and direct contributions to—the field of African American literature. Hudson 1991 provides an overview of specific literary references reflected in Ellington’s music. Lanier 2007 provides a historical overview of African American interactions with Shakespeare, while Teague 2005 overviews a 1997 stage musical inspired by Ellington and Shakespeare. Buhler 2005 offers a programmatic reading of performances from Ellington’s and Strayhorn’s Such Sweet Thunder.

  • Buhler, Stephen M. “Form and Character in Duke Ellington’s and Billy Strayhorn’s Such Sweet Thunder.” Borrowers and Lenders: The Journal of Shakespeare and Appropriation 1.1 (Spring/Summer 2005).

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    A light reading of Ellington’s and Billy Strayhorn’s Such Sweet Thunder that suggests specific Shakespearean dramatic scenes as compositional inspiration for the musical vignettes of the album.

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  • Edwards, Brent Hayes. “The Literary Ellington.” In Uptown Conversation: New Jazz Studies. Edited by Robert G. O’Meally, Brent Hayes Edwards, and Farah Jasmine Griffin, 326–356. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.

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    A study of Ellington’s legacy as a writer in the context of 20th-century African American literature. Includes discussions of Black, Brown, and Beige and Such Sweet Thunder, as well as some reproductions of archival manuscripts.

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  • Hudson, Theodore R. “Duke Ellington’s Literary Sources.” American Music 9.1 (Spring 1991): 20–42.

    DOI: 10.2307/3051533Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An overview of Ellington’s and Billy Strayhorn’s programming of literary themes, focusing on approaches to John Steinbeck (Suite Thursday, 1960), Alain René Lesage (Turcaret, 1961), and Shakespeare (Such Sweet Thunder, 1957, and Timon of Athens, 1963).

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  • Lanier, Douglas M. “Jazzing Up Shakespeare.” In Shakespeare in American Life. Edited by Virginia Mason Vaughan and Alden T. Vaughan, 77–87. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2007.

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    An accessibly written overview of African American interactions with Shakespeare, including minstrelsy and vaudeville. Features a brief discussion of Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s Such Sweet Thunder.

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  • Lenz, Günter. “‘Die kulturelle Dynamik der afroamerikanischen Musik’: Duke Ellingtons Kulturbegriff und seine Bedeutung in der afro-amerikanischen Literatur.” In Duke Ellington und die Folgen. Edited by Wolfram Knauer, 157–206. Darmstädter Beiträge zur Jazzforschung Band 6. Hofheim, Germany: Wolke Verlag, 2000.

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    A study of Ellington’s evolving representation in African American literature through the 20th century, including writings by Alain Locke, Ralph Ellison, and Albert Murray. In German.

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  • Teague, Fran. “Swingin’ Shakespeare from Harlem to Broadway.” Borrowers and Lenders: The Journal of Shakespeare and Appropriation 1.1 (Spring/Summer 2005).

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    Surveys the origins, content, and reception history of two stage musicals re-setting Shakespearean themes in Harlem: Swingin’ the Dream (1939) and Play On! (1997)—the latter built around Ellington’s music. Includes audio samples and photos.

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Race, Cultural Politics, and Harlem Culture

Ellington’s cultural identity as an African American is a central theme of many of his works and writings. Although his emergence as a celebrated leader in the arts paralleled many of the intellectual and political ideals of the Harlem Renaissance, Ellington steered his own path through America’s civil rights movement and other cultural evolution(s) through the 20th century. The studies cited here consider Ellington’s legacy through the lens of race, politics, and culture. Anderson 2001, Denning 1997, Magee 2014 (cited under Stage Productions, Program Music, and the Cotton Club), Tucker 1990, and Weinstein 1992 discuss Ellington and his music in the context of pre–civil rights era racial discourses and progressive political concerns. Lock 1999 and Szwed 2013 consider Ellington’s contributions in the context of African American avant-garde art traditions. Vogel 2012 considers period race politics through a cultural theory reading of A Drum Is a Woman (1957) that draws on queer and gender studies.

  • Anderson, Paul Allen. “‘Saving Jazz from Its Friends’; ‘Epilogue.’” In Deep River: Music and Memory in Harlem Renaissance Thought. By Paul Allen Anderson, 219–270. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001.

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    A study of the cultural and political values associated with jazz during the interwar period, as interpreted by writer-dancer Rodger Pryor Dodge and activist-producer John Hammond. Features a discussion of both figures’ writings on Ellington.

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  • Denning, Michael. “‘Fare Thee Well, Land of Cotton’: Duke Ellington.” In The Cultural Front: The Laboring of American Culture in the Twentieth Century. By Michael Denning, 309–319. London: Verso, 1997.

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    A discussion of the Popular Front political origins of the Hollywood Theatre Alliance, and the 1941 stage musical Jump for Joy. Features a political reading of the production’s lyric and music content.

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  • Lock, Graham. “Duke Ellington: Tone Parallels.” In Blutopia: Visions of the Future and Revisions of the Past in the Work of Sun Ra, Duke Ellington, and Anthony Braxton. By Graham Lock, 77–142. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1999.

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    A study of Ellington’s responses to racial stereotypes through a number of writings and musical works. Two chapters feature extended discussions of Black, Brown, and Beige and A Drum Is a Woman.

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  • Szwed, John. “The Antiquity of the Avant-Garde: A Moderation on a Comment by Duke Ellington.” In People Get Ready: The Future of Jazz Is Now! Edited by Ajay Heble and Rob Wallace, 44–58. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2013.

    DOI: 10.1215/9780822399728-004Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A discussion of Ellington’s role in the avant-garde tradition and portrayals of the avant-garde in broader jazz history.

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  • Tucker, Mark. “The Renaissance Education of Duke Ellington.” In Black Music in the Harlem Renaissance: A Collection of Essays. Edited by Samuel A. Floyd Jr., 111–127. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1990.

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    An accessibly written study of Ellington’s early career in the context of the education and uplift ideals of the Harlem Renaissance. Features a discussion of the influence of composer Will Marion Cook.

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  • Vogel, Shane. “Madam Zajj and U.S. Steel: Blackness, Bioperformance, and Duke Ellington’s Calypso Theater.” Social Text 30.4 (Winter 2012): 1–24.

    DOI: 10.1215/01642472-1725775Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A Foucaldian cultural theory reading of Ellington’s A Drum Is a Woman (1957) television broadcast on CBS, drawing on queer, race, and gender studies.

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  • Weinstein, Norman C. “Madam Zajj Testifies Why a Drum Is a Woman.” In A Night in Tunisia: Imaginings of Africa in Jazz. By Norman C. Weinstein, 37–47. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow, 1992.

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    An essay considering the influence of Caribbean history and heritage—including the politics of Marcus Garvey—on Ellington and other Harlem jazz artists. Written in an allegorical voice that references Ellington’s narrative technique in A Drum Is a Woman (1957).

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  • Wilson, Olly W., and Trevor Weston. “Edward Kennedy Ellington as a Cultural Icon.” In The Cambridge Companion to Duke Ellington. Edited by Edward Green, 67–82. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

    DOI: 10.1017/CCO9781139021357.008Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An accessible overview of Ellington’s accomplishments in the context of African American culture and achievement, including reception of extended compositions and film appearances.

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Radio and Print Media

Continual developments in technology and media throughout Ellington’s lifetime played an important role in his career and work. The studies cited here consider Ellington’s image, publicity, and music in the context of radio, print, film, and recording mediums. Cohen 2004 explores Ellington’s controversial relationship with media mogul Irving Mills. Jenkins 2008, Johnson 2013, and Wall 2012 focus on the role of radio broadcasting in Ellington’s career. Morton 2008 documents the multimedia efforts behind Ellington’s 1956 Newport triumph; Waters 1993 traces the efforts behind Ellington’s Time magazine cover the same year. Cohen 2011 and Hoffmann 2000 consider Ellington’s media presence in an international context.

  • Cohen, Harvey G. “The Marketing of Duke Ellington: Setting The Strategy for an African American Maestro.” Journal of African American History 89 (2004): 291–315.

    DOI: 10.2307/4134056Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A study of Ellington’s relationship with manager, publisher, and publicist Irving Mills from 1926–1939, and the publicity campaigns that made Ellington an international celebrity.

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  • Cohen, Harvey G. “Visions of Freedom: Duke Ellington in the Soviet Union.” Popular Music 30.3 (2011): 297–313.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0261143011000237Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A study of the Cold War political context of Ellington’s 1971 State Department tour in the USSR, focusing on the event’s extensive international media coverage.

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  • Hoffmann, Bernd. “‘Zugunsten der deutschen Jugend’: Zur Rezeption afroamerikanischer Musik in der Nachkriegszeit.” In Duke Ellington und die Folgen. Edited by Wolfram Knauer, 59–94. Darmstädter Beiträge zur Jazzforschung Band 6. Hofheim, Germany: Wolke Verlag, 2000.

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    A study of Ellington’s reception in West Germany c. 1946–1955, focusing on fan clubs and media coverage in print and radio. In German.

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  • Jenkins, Chadwick. “A Question of Containment: Duke Ellington and Early Radio.” American Music 26 (Winter 2008): 415–441.

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    A discussion of the role of radio in Ellington’s early publicity, focusing on period conceptions of race in American culture.

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  • Johnson, Aaron J. “A Date With the Duke: Ellington on Radio.” Musical Quarterly 96.3–4 (Fall–Winter 2013): 369–405.

    DOI: 10.1093/musqtl/gdt014Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines Ellington’s career in the context of radio’s emergence during the early 1920s, early network broadcasts during the 1930s, political programming during the Second World War, and Ellington’s own radio program in the late 1940s.

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  • Morton, John Fass. Backstory in Blue: Ellington at Newport’56. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2008.

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    An in-depth study of Ellington’s celebrated performance at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival, including preparatory publicity campaigns, the Voice of America radio broadcast, and LP album production. Features a number of photos and interviews with concert participants.

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  • Wall, Tim. “Duke Ellington, Radio Remotes, and the Mediation of Big City Nightlife, 1927 to 1933.” Jazz Perspectives 6.1–2 (2012): 197–222.

    DOI: 10.1080/17494060.2012.721295Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A study of the evolving cultural and economic strategies in programming by the different radio stations that broadcast Ellington’s Cotton Club performances.

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  • Waters, Charles H., Jr. “Anatomy of a Cover: The Story of Duke Ellington’s Appearance on the Cover of Time Magazine.” Annual Reviews of Jazz Studies 6 (1993): 1–64.

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    Traces the writers, editors, painters, and other figures involved in the publication of Ellington’s August 1956 Time magazine cover feature—an important event in establishing Ellington’s artistic stature and renewing his later career.

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Film Studies and Film Music

Ellington’s status as an African American icon was in part established through a series of pioneering appearances on film: scholarship ranges from cultural readings drawing on film theory disciplines to music analysis of underscore orchestration techniques. Cohen 2013 and Gabbard 1996 discuss Ellington’s film appearances in the context of race politics and popular culture representations of jazz. Gabbard 2004 and Metzer 2003 apply representational readings of specific Ellington film appearances and performances. Domek 2012 and Holbrook 2011 offer analyses of Ellington’s and Billy Strayhorn’s film scores for Anatomy of a Murder (1959) and Paris Blues (1961), respectively.

  • Cohen, Harvey G. “Duke Ellington on Film in the 1930s.” Musical Quarterly 96.3–4 (Fall–Winter 2013): 406–425.

    DOI: 10.1093/musqtl/gdt007Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Overviews the political and commercial context of Ellington’s early film appearances, including a brief appearance in the feature film Murder at the Vanities (1934), and the short film Symphony in Black (1935).

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  • Domek, Richard. “The Late Duke: Ellington’s and Strayhorn’s Music for Anatomy of a Murder Considered.” Jazz Perspectives 6.1–2 (2012): 75–121.

    DOI: 10.1080/17494060.2012.721291Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An analysis of form, theme, harmonic content, and voicing structures in Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s soundtrack album for the film Anatomy of a Murder (1959). Includes extensive notated examples of reduced score excerpts.

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  • Gabbard, Krin. “Duke’s Place: Visualizing a Jazz Composer.” In Jammin’ at the Margins: Jazz and the American Cinema. By Krin Gabbard, 160–203. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.

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    Provides backgrounds, synopses, and criticism of Ellington’s major film appearances. Features discussions of Black and Tan (1929), Symphony in Black (1935), Cabin in the Sky (1942), Anatomy of a Murder (1959), and Paris Blues (1961).

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  • Gabbard, Krin. “Paris Blues: Ellington, Armstrong, and Saying It with Music.” In Uptown Conversation: New Jazz Studies. Edited by Robert G. O’Meally, Brent Hayes Edwards, and Farah Jasmine Griffin, 297–311. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.

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    A reading of the film Paris Blues as a representation of Ellington and Louis Armstrong’s real-life careers, and the political context of jazz portrayals in popular culture.

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  • Holbrook, Morris B. “Paris Blues.” In Music, Movies, Meaning, and Markets: Cinemajazzamatazz. By Morris B. Holbrook, 188–199. Routledge Interpretive Marketing Research. New York: Routledge, 2011.

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    A reading of Ellington and Strayhorn’s film score for Paris Blues (1961), focusing on variations in title theme orchestration as a potential dramatic device.

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  • Metzer, David. “Black and White: Quotations in Duke Ellington’s ‘Black and Tan Fantasy.’” In Quotation and Meaning in Twentieth Century Music. By David Metzer, 47–68. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

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    A study of the cultural context and incorporation of musical influences in Ellington’s 1927 “Black and Tan Fantasy,” including spirituals and Chopin. Includes a discussion of the 1929 film Black and Tan, and notated music examples.

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The World Stage

The last decades of Ellington’s career found him increasingly taking a role as ambassador of American culture: a number of studies consider Ellington in the context of jazz’s acceptance outside the United States, globalization, Cold War diplomacy, and representations of American jazz. Von Eschen 2004 examines the politics and events behind Ellington’s 1963 tour for the US State Department. Faine 2013 traces Ellington’s 1969 White House tribute, including the international media campaign that followed. Edström 2013 and Parsonage 2005 offer reception histories of Ellington tours to Sweden and England, respectively. Ellington also created music in tribute to his experiences abroad, including some of his most celebrated late-career works: Jackson 2013 and Pfleiderer 2000 explore the context and content of specific program works with international themes, particularly as found in The Far East Suite (1966); Green 2012 and McManus 2012 offer different readings of Afro-Eurasian Eclipse (1971).

  • Edström, Olle. “Ellington in Sweden.” Musical Quarterly 96.3–4 (Fall–Winter 2013): 478–512.

    DOI: 10.1093/musqtl/gdt017Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines the cultural context and reception history of Ellington’s multiple tours to Sweden throughout his career, including collaborations with Swedish vocalist Alice Babs. Includes notated music examples.

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  • Eschen, Penny M. von. “Duke’s Diplomacy.” In Satchmo Blows Up the World: Jazz Ambassadors Play the Cold War. By Penny M. von Eschen, 121–147. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004.

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    A study of the political tensions surrounding Ellington’s 1963 State Department tour to the Middle East and South Asia, in the context of the Cold War and the domestic civil rights movement.

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  • Faine, Edward Allen. Ellington at the White House 1969. Takoma Park, MD: IM, 2013.

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    An impressive collection of research relating to President Nixon’s 1969 White House gala honoring Ellington and American jazz. Includes detailed discussion of the event, its political origins, its use as international political propaganda, and numerous photos.

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  • Green, Edward. “Did Ellington Truly Believe in an Afro-Eurasian Eclipse?” International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music 43.1 (June 2012): 227–235.

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    A reading of Ellington’s suite Afro-Eurasian Eclipse (1971) that suggests ironic subversion in the work’s titling, musical content, and references to social theorist Marshall McLuhan. Draws on the methodology of aesthetic realism.

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  • Jackson, Travis A. “Tourist Point of View? Musics of the World and Ellington’s Suites.” The Musical Quarterly 96.3–4 (Fall–Winter 2013): 513–540.

    DOI: 10.1093/musqtl/gdt018Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A discussion of compositional style and programmatic content in Ellington’s “travelogue” concept albums of the 1960s–1970s, focusing on The Far East Suite (1966). Includes a notated score reduction excerpt.

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  • McManus, Laurie. “Ambiguity of Identity in the ‘Global Village’: Ellington, McLuhan, and the Afro-Eurasian Eclipse.” Jazz Perspectives 6.1–2 (2012): 179–196.

    DOI: 10.1080/17494060.2012.721294Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A study of social theorist Marshall McLuhan’s influence on Ellington, and the globalist aesthetic of Ellington’s suite Afro-Eurasian Eclipse (1971).

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  • Parsonage, Catherine. “Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington.” In The Evolution of Jazz in Britain, 1880–1935. By Catherine Parsonage, 221–260. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2005.

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    A study of the politics, reception history, and legacy of Ellington’s tour in England in 1933. Features a discussion of the role and influence of musician and writer Spike Hughes, and a comparison of Ellington’s reception to that of Louis Armstrong.

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  • Pfleiderer, Martin. “‘Far East of the Blues’: Ellington und Weltmusik.” In Duke Ellington und die Folgen. Edited by Wolfram Knauer, 149–165. Darmstädter Beiträge zur Jazzforschung Band 6. Hofheim, Germany: Wolke Verlag, 2000.

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    A discussion of Ellington’s late-career transnational music projects—including Far East Suite (1966) and Afro-Eurasian Eclipse (1971)—and how they foreshadowed similar efforts by other jazz musicians in the following decades. In German.

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Ellingtonians

The contributions and controversies surrounding Ellington’s sidemusicians and collaborators comprise an important topic of Ellingtonia, if not the development of jazz itself. Early band members James “Bubber” Miley, Joe “Tricky Sam” Nanton, and Juan Tizol played crucial roles in developing Ellington’s musical style; other key musicians (including Lawrence Brown, Harry Carney, Johnny Hodges, Ray Nance, and Cootie Williams) worked with the bandleader across several decades. Dance 2000 (originally published in 1968) represents the original celebration of the “Ellingtonians,” featuring numerous interviews and tributes. Bigard 1988, George 1981, Stewart 1991, and Terry and Terry 2011 are book-length autobiographies for general audiences. Buchmann-Møller 2006 and Serrano 2012 are more specialized biographies on their subjects. (Tucker’s Ellington Reader also includes a notable section dedicated to Ellingtonians.) Unique in scope and inspiration, Dietrich 1995 presents a study of the Ellington orchestra’s trombonists. Studies focusing on Billy Strayhorn are listed in the following subsection.

  • Bigard, Barney. With Louis and the Duke. Edited by Barry Martyn. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

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    A brief but poignant autobiography by clarinetist Barney Bigard, who also performed with Louis Armstrong. Features five chapters relating to Bigard’s 1927–1942 tenure with Ellington, including discussion of the Cotton Club and life on the road.

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  • Buchmann-Møller, Frank. Someone to Watch Over Me: The Life and Music of Ben Webster. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2006.

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    A well-researched biography on the influential saxophonist Ben Webster, who also performed with bandleaders Bennie Moten and Cab Calloway. Includes a forty-page chapter dedicated to his 1940–1943 tenure with Ellington, featuring numerous interview excerpts.

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  • Dance, Stanley. The World of Ellington. New York: DaCapo, 2000.

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    The starting point for Ellingtonian studies, including valuable interviews with many musicians, producers, arrangers, and other figures associated with Ellington. Originally published in 1968, the book is primarily designed as a tribute to the bandleader; Dance’s published interviews tend to be strategically paraphrased.

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  • Dietrich, Kurt. Duke’s Bones: Ellington’s Great Trombonists. Rottenburg, Germany: Advance Music, 1995.

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    A musicological study of Ellington’s trombonists across five decades of the orchestra’s existence, including individual chapters dedicated to Joe Nanton, Juan Tizol, and Lawrence Brown. Includes notated music examples of score excerpts and transcribed solos.

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  • George, Don. Sweet Man: The Real Duke Ellington. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1981.

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    An entertaining memoir by songwriter and lyricist Don George, who occasionally collaborated with Ellington from the 1940s onward. Includes anecdotes regarding many Ellington side-musicians and associates, including Sonny Greer, Al Hibbler, Brooks Kerr, and Billy Strayhorn.

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  • Serrano, Basilio. Juan Tizol: His Caravan Through American Life and Culture. Lexington, KY: Xlibris, 2012.

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    A biographical study of trombonist and composer Juan Tizol, focusing on his Puerto Rican heritage and contributions to Latin jazz. Well researched if hastily edited, this book features two chapters dedicated to Tizol’s tenure with Ellington during 1929–1944, 1951–1953, and 1960–1961, and a list of Tizol compositions.

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  • Stewart, Rex. Boy Meets Horn. Edited by Claire P. Gordon. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1991.

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    The autobiography of Ellington cornetist Rex Stewart, who also played with jazz bandleaders Fletcher Henderson and Luis Russell. Includes five chapters relating to Stewart’s 1935–1945 tenure with Ellington.

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  • Terry, Clark, with Gwen Terry. Clark: The Autobiography of Clark Terry. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011.

    DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520268463.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The autobiography of trumpeter Clark Terry, one of the Ellington orchestra’s “modern jazz” virtuosos of the 1950s. About forty pages (chapters are brief) relate to his tenure with Ellington during 1951–1959, including experiences on the bandstand and on the road.

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Billy Strayhorn

During the past two decades, scholars have shown a growing interest in composer and arranger Billy Strayhorn, described variably as Ellington’s assistant, collaborator, or “alter ego.” His integral (and often understated) role in the Ellington creative process, influential arranging style, involvement in stage and theater projects, and openly gay identity have offered a range of topics for studies in multiple disciplines. Hajdu 1996 presents the definitive biography of Strayhorn. Van de Leur 2002 examines archival manuscripts in a study of Strayhorn’s composition and arranging style. Barg 2013 and Barg 2014 offer readings of Strayhorn’s music that draw on queer studies. Celenza investigates Strayhorn’s social and political connections to trace the motivations behind Peer Gynt Suite. Friedwald 2002 discusses Strayhorn’s best-known composition, “Lush Life.”

Ellington and Jazz Historiography

The selections cited here include writings that helped establish Ellington’s current position in jazz and 20th-century music history. Boyer 1993 offers an early celebration of Ellington at the height of his popularity. Ulanov 1975 and Collier 1987 represent widely influential—if not always meticulously researched—biographical portrayals of Ellington. Gammond 1977 represents one of the earliest—and one of the most comprehensive—compilations of essays on Ellington and his music. Hodeir 2006, Priestley and Cohen 1993, and Schuller 1968 celebrate Ellington’s accomplishments as composer through score transcription and music analysis. Williams 1993 represents influential critical writing that established Ellington’s recordings in the context of the jazz history canon.

  • Boyer, Richard O. “The Hot Bach.” In The Duke Ellington Reader. Edited by Mark Tucker, 214–245. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

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    Boyer’s New Yorker magazine feature, originally published in 1944, presents Ellington at the height of his popularity. Discusses aspects of Ellington’s personality, approach to composition, experiences with racial prejudice, and interactions with his orchestra members.

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  • Collier, James Lincoln. Duke Ellington. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.

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    Generally dismissed in academic circles, this widely read, lightly researched, and curiously polemical Ellington biography presents the bandleader in the context of several important jazz historiography themes, including artistic authenticity, commercialism, and biographical-musical intent.

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  • Gammond, Peter, ed. Duke Ellington: His Life and Music. New York: DaCapo, 1977.

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    Originally published in 1958, this is a collection of tributes, histories, and criticism (including some reprints); research sources are generally not cited. Features extensive consideration of Ellington’s “orchestral suites” and concept albums, as well as a section devoted to Ellington’s musicians.

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  • Hodeir, André. “A Masterpiece: ‘Concerto for Cootie.’” In Collected Work: The André Hodeir Jazz Reader. By André Hodeir, 35–52. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2006.

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    Originally published in 1954, this article analyzes Ellington’s composing strategies in “Concerto for Cootie” (1940), drawing comparisons to European classical composition.

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  • Priestley, Brian, and Alan Cohen. “Black, Brown, and Beige.” In The Duke Ellington Reader. Edited by Mark Tucker, 185–204. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

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    Originally published in 1974 following Ellington’s death, this was one of the first substantial musical analyses of Black, Brown, and Beige, focusing on thematic and motivic construction. Includes notated music examples of transcribed score excerpts.

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  • Schuller, Gunther. “The Ellington Style: Its Origins and Early Development.” In Early Jazz: Its Roots and Musical Development. By Gunther Schuller, 318–357. New York: Oxford University Press, 1968.

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    One of the first extensive analytical studies of Ellington’s composition and arranging, including brief notated examples of transcribed score reductions for “East St. Louis Toodle-Oo” (1926) and other works of the 1920s and early 1930s. Also features a discussion of the contributions of trumpeter Bubber Miley, including transcribed solos.

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  • Ulanov, Barry. Duke Ellington. New York: DaCapo, 1975.

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    Originally published at mid-career in 1946, this is the first book-length biography of Ellington. Notable for details on Ellington’s early life and an extended discussion of Black, Brown, and Beige, though research sources are not cited.

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  • Williams, Martin. “Form Beyond Form.” In The Duke Ellington Reader. Edited by Mark Tucker, 400–412. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

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    The writings of jazz historian Martin Williams, original compiler of the audio anthology Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz, influenced a generation of scholars and fans. This essay, first published in 1970, surveys several highlights in Ellington’s recorded legacy, including analysis and criticism.

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Archival Resources

Since it opened to researchers in 1988, the vast collection of manuscript music, writings, and memorabilia of the Duke Ellington Collection (housed at the Archives Center of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History) has provided the backbone for Ellington studies. Fan-based organizations such as the Duke Ellington Society (DES) and International Duke Ellington Music Society (IDEMS) sponsor Ellington tribute events and research publications, as well as hosting valuable website resources (discographies, publication reviews, etc.). The Institute of Jazz Studies offers an extensive collection of jazz research materials, including transcripts of the Jazz Oral History Project. The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture of the New York Public Library system features archival material and research publications specializing in African American art and Harlem culture. Mathiesen’s website offers a valuable index for Ellington’s autobiography, as well as a list of compositions. The Paley Center for Media holds a rare copy of Ellington’s A Drum Is a Woman (1957) television special.

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