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duke ellington

duke ellington - Adam Kuczynski History of Jazz Paper 5 The...

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Adam Kuczynski History of Jazz Paper 5 The Life of Duke Ellington When analyzing great jazz musicians of the 20 th Century, one name that always is mentioned is Edward Kennedy, or “Duke,” Ellington. Ellington is considered one of the greats because he was able to draw the best of styles from his men and incorporate those elements into many of his compositions. Although he was a great jazz musician, he still faced some adversity of his life that actually included him no longer having a record deal. The life of Duke Ellington is an interesting and fascinating one and it deserves to be looked at in a deeper level. Edward Kennedy Ellington was born to James Edward and Daisy Kennedy Ellington in Washington D.C. in his grandparent’s house. At the age of seven, Ellington began taking piano lessons from a neighbor and family friend, Marietta Clinkscales, who lived down the street from the Ellington’s. Daisy Ellington liked to surround Edward with dignified women who would reinforce his manners. James, on the other hand, helped Edward to have self-confidence. Both qualities led neighbors to give Edward the nickname of “Duke” because of his nobleman-like qualities. The name Duke is one that would stick with him for the rest of his life. Even though Ellington was taking piano lessons for much of his younger years, he really did not show much interest in them. In fact, Duke was more concerned with baseball than music in his younger years. Duke was a peanut vendor at Washington Senators baseball games. However, this love for baseball and first job helped Duke overcome his stage fright. Although he felt playing the piano was not one of his strength’s at a younger age, his attitude changed as he got older. He would sneak into poolrooms and start to gain respect for musicians and he started to gain
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appreciation for the piano after hearing numerous mentors play the piano. This got Ellington to start to take piano lessons seriously. He began listening and imitating ragtime piano players all across the east coast where he vacationed with his mother during the summer. One summer, Ellington got the privilege of working with popular pianist Harvey Brooks. Brooks showed Ellington the “tricks of the trade” so to speak about piano. Ellington then went on to learn how to read sheet music with the help of jazz musicians Oliver Perry and Louis Brown. One of Ellington’s first major performances was in 1921 when some of his friends encouraged him to play “Carolina
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