Duke Ellington

Icons of the Century

With his easy elegance of speech and mastery of charm, Duke Ellington might have succeeded in any field he chose. But with feet always firmly planted in jazz and the African-American experience, he created a staggering musical legacy that crossed many boundaries while always remaining true to its roots.

Somehow, this one man managed to write or co-write an estimated 2,000 compositions — about a hundred of which landed in the Great American Songbook — created an instantly recognizable sound that could not be duplicated, kept a big band running continuously for a half-century, toured compulsively, and carried on a busy social life.

All in one lifetime.

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