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The following tape recorded program is a presentation of the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is the 14th in a series of programs on the road in the United States. On this program we cover twenty one thousand twenty three to nine hundred forty three Duke Ellington and his orchestra. 19:23 Fletcher Henderson was playing primitive swing and Louis
Armstrong was playing the real thing in New Orleans and he was about to play with King all of that was knocking him dead in Chicago's South Side. Bix Beiderbecke was playing around the Middle West ragtime piano and boogie woogie were heard in St. Louis Kansas City in Chicago. And in most big cities experiments were going on and arranging for a big band. In 1923 Duke Ellington went to Harlem from Washington D.C. He went to St.. Edward Kennedy Ellington was born in Washington D.C. in the year 1900. He began
studying piano when he was eight. Under a Mr. Grant and a Mrs. Jinx at Armstrong high school he veered away toward painting etching and all kinds of athletics. But his mother kept him at the piano. At 16 he began to play reggae music for Washington society with Louis Thomas's orchestra. He went to New York on tour with the exhibitionistic we'll see in one thousand twenty two and return to Washington to form his own band. He used to author Wetzel on trumpet banjo Otto Hardwick on C Melody sax and Sonny Greer as the drummer. In one hundred twenty three fat swallow in New York who had heard these men in the capital sent for them for a job that fell through. But the Washingtonians were in Holland and they stayed here of the woods of Barry on and off. But then the singer and mistress of ceremonies Ada Smith stepped in. Known as Bricktop the name under which she later opened a very successful nightclub in Paris. She had a
reputation and she had connections. She got the boys a job at a nightclub run by a politician and man about Harlem. Baron Wilkins Behrens was a sumptuous unselect uptown club patronized by the Downtown great of show business by Harlem zone Bert Williams and by Jack Johnson the heavyweight champion. Barron's was in a basement at one hundred thirty fourth Street and Seventh Avenue but according to the musicians who began to drop in regularly to hear the Washingtonians Duke and his boys raised the rope they played much rousing jazz and won their followers that way they kept them with their soft and subtle transmutations of blues and ragtime phrases. Their clothes matched the rough jazz their personalities especially their speech were more like the handsomely fashioned quiet music they played. They were naturals for Broadway with such an intriguing combination of the loud and the soft in music and manner. Six months after they opened at Barron's they moved into the Hollywood cafe at Forty ninth Street and Broadway. The variations were more
spectacular at the Hollywood which shortly after their arrival was renamed the Kentucky Club. They had a solid rhythm section with the addition of a silent self-assured guitarist Freddie guy. They had what they called a jungle voice in the trombone of Charlie Herb us who grew gruffly and suggestively on his horn using a large bottle cap for the mute bugger my late joined up in late 1904 with his extraordinary variety of growls. But more reliable and controllable than services with the aid of a plumber's plunger as a mute bugger had a ready smile and a chortling laugh and got both into his trumpet playing. It was a New Yorker that would grown up with Bobby Stark. Freddy Jenkins and Benny Carter in the rough setting they called the jungle on 60 second Street. But James Miley had learned a lot about the South from his mother and it listened long to the music of Southern negroes from a spiritual Hosanna that his mother had sung. He constructed the lovely melody which was his solo in his own Black and Tan Fantasy.
One of the first great successes of the Ellington IANS. From the sound of trains in the conversations and then from the sound of organs and cly as a Negro churches from the general hubbub of night clubs and the particular cries and grunts of nightclubs.
From anything he had around him. Better Miley made his music. Duke was making what he called conversation music and was well aware of its potential qualities and he knew too. At his best talk was Bubba Miley and Bubba set the style. In 1926 Joan and tricky Sam they called him joined Ellington
on trombone. And the early Ellington records were made for vocab in 1927. Duke moved from the Kentucky Club to the Cotton Club and jungle music as it was called Captured an audience who could pay real money. Barry who Nof says from the first vocality inside the band's theme East St. Louis to do its own special qualities were apparent the Tulu was bobbers a definitive demonstration of his growing melodic line here a kind of Middle Temple plaint in which the accents were those of speech a mildly demonstrative elegantly phrased speech. The Ellington musicians knew that too little Lou was something special and they recorded it again and again. Kalyan for Brunswick or Columbia for Victor. And this is the sound of East St. Louis. I am.
I am. I am I am I am I am I am. I am I am I am. But
by the time the Ellington Orchestra was at the Cotton Club he had 12 or more men in the band and he had the same problems as Fletcher Henderson had had too many instruments to achieve completely improvised jazz and the Duke began to arrange his music. The art of Duke Ellington is essentially the art of composer and arranger is not a great jazz musician and his orchestra was never a great jazz orchestra. But in the early days before the arranging completely enveloped the three minute compositions a few of Ellington's musicians were capable and showed great improvisational
skill. Baba Marley trumpeter Manton on trombone and Harry Carney on baritone sax in the early band and later could he. Williams and rain and song trumpets. Lawrence Brown and Juan on trombones. Johnny Hodges and Bonnie big God on sax on clarinet. These were the great jazz improvisers with Ellington. These men played together and worked together long enough at a stretch so that they developed a style much different from that of any other group. They called it jungle style but whatever you call it the style was principly and the rage into one. Whereas Fletcher Henderson developed an arranged attack of notes and upbeat of rhythm. Duke Ellington explored the rich tapestries of orchestral sound harmonies where his field of exploration. He could swing his music just as effectively as any number of large orchestras. But his real contribution to large orchestra jazz was his ability to obtain
sounds that were not heard before except accidentally. It may have been that his efforts at producing unusual sounds by arranging influence them soloists or it might have been the reverse. But there is no doubt but what the individual musicians with the Duke were all capable of producing uncanny sounds from the plunger mute of Baba Miley to the saucepan tones of tricky Sam. Every avenue of unusual sound was explored and exploited. Now this sort of expression is not new. It wasn't then and if it hadn't been for Ellington's almost infallible sense of artistic taste. This conglomeration would have been just one more in the long history of novelty bands. In fact there are many who say that Duke Ellington's orchestra hangs on to its jazz label only by a thread. Rex Harris has this to say. With the recording of his signature tune East St. Louis to the loo he began a
series of original and individual orchestrations which were to be the first of hundreds and which were to be acclaimed by critics in the field of classical music. As the work of a composer of considerable importance from the start it quickly became obvious that improvisation and freedom of expression were to play a little part in elling Tony and jazz. Much has been made of the fact that many of the players in the band contributed to various compositions and in fact were often given credit for them. But this in no way invalidates the point that there was little freedom for original ideas. True jazz feeling was entirely absent collective improvisation nonexistent. The little jazz contained in the earlier performances from 1928 to the mid 30s is by musicians who in an other element would have produced some fine jazz and the British jazz critic Max Jones says. When one generalizes in writing or talking about jazz one must always make an exception of one man. Whether the
generalization is of time or place or prevailing attitude it rarely fits the special case of Duke Ellington in the first years of his career. He and his musicians played the blues and his particular piano style was clearly ragtime. But the total effect of the music he wrote and played at the time cannot be so neatly categorized. And while the Hobson writing in jazz man is on Ellington side if any musician ever earned the right to address uniform Ellington's boys have earned their crimson pants and fancy instrument cases. They have been and are and epitome of a sort. The jazz language coming out of folk musical sources by its own nature bred a lot of remarkable improvising talent as the players grew more and more interested in the combination of instruments in sections. Jazz inevitably acquired considerable orchestral sophistication. Jazz musicians are bound to be more and more experimental orchestrally. And it is probably natural that some one
organisation should most vividly represent all the elements of this process in which folk music is gradually moving into the general musical curtains. It seems to me that the band which does this is Ellington's I am. Thanks Thanks Thanks Thanks Thanks Thanks Thanks Thanks Thanks Thanks Thanks Thanks Thanks. The music of Duke Ellington was first heard in the Kentucky and cotton clubs of New York City's holler. It was heard coast to coast the radio they toured the country made movie song drunks played in the theaters of all the great.
They taught as a dance band to the boardrooms of the nation. They went twice to Europe and played for the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York to era parents to the throne of the in 1933 and in 1939 they travelled through France Norway Denmark and Sweden and in 1943 he had his comedy Hall reception. Twenty years from the Kentucky Club in one thousand twenty three to Carnegie Hall in 1943. I am and I am
thanks. I am. I am. Yeah thanks thanks thanks. Thanks Carol. Thank you nko. Thank you. The Ellington band had a nucleus of musicians who stayed with Duke for many years and they provided a source of continuity. The sound of Ellington was
ragtime in New Orleans a novelty in the late 20s. It shifted to mood music more and more towards the early 30s and in the 30s the amount of arranged material increased jazz was preserved in a series of concerto like compositions each displaying a single instrumentalist but by the time Duke was at Carnegie Hall he was composing and arranging music which closely resembled serious forms such as tone poems individual expression so completely fell in step with what was written down that it sounded composed even if it wasn't the Ellington Orchestra built on the rhythmic arrangements of Henderson and developed a particularly rich palate of a Castro comma and harmony. And both of these influences were necessary to make possible much of what was to come in large band music. Here are the songs of Ellington.
And now. New Orleans music in the late 20s. Now. Yeah yeah yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah but. The mood music in the 30s this time. Mood Indigo. The instrumental concerto. Here it is in TNT on top.
Of. The Symphonic arrangements. This time the lady of the lavender mist. Perhaps the do expand on the
early days I wouldn't jungle rhythm with a break of not you agonizing like a very exciting one even when they played there with you Lou when you have the ground come pick me and play with them. And the band was very exciting and when you came from Washington DC and played New York later on the Duke himself an inventor a restless sort of guy who wanted to find new fields of music and so he did. But our life the result the government backed this attempt American jazz and invited. Upon becoming a group prepared this Roberts was aware of the crew at the front tire would have to give him an overt effort and at the same time the minute contributions occur when some other fellow's apparently obvious did a grown up carrier than I regarding about her own separate groups contribution. This here's a man who always gathered from around all the time everyone was a commoner. Me Woody Williams and the brother Michael you were there with Rex there like you had a young man with Guy crematorium very bland a
very excellent swing game in full blown in the 1930s and Ellington was part of swing. But while New York's column had produced Fletcher Henderson and Duke Ellington much had been taking place elsewhere and next week we'll move around some to survey the music of other big bands from the U.S 1924 1935 and. This has been the 40 in a series of progress on the
United States. These programs are written and produced by Norman Cleary. Is the reader. This is Norman Cleary speaking. To. The
preceding program was tape recorded. This is a radio network.
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Roots of jazz
1923-43 with Duke Ellington
Producing Organization
Iowa State University
WOI (Radio station : Ames, Iowa)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program discusses Duke Ellington's work during the years 1923 to 1943.
Series Description
Music-documentary series in 26 parts, covering various aspects of jazz.
Broadcast Date
Big bands--History
Media type
Director: Cleary, Norman
Engineer: Vogel, Dick
Host: Chass, Robert L.
Interviewee: Terkel, Studs, 1912-2008.
Performer: Ellington, Duke, 1899-1974
Producing Organization: Iowa State University
Producing Organization: WOI (Radio station : Ames, Iowa)
Speaker: Geesy, Ray
Writer: Cleary, Norman
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 56-24-14 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:22
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Chicago: “Roots of jazz; 1923-43 with Duke Ellington,” 1956-09-30, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 23, 2024,
MLA: “Roots of jazz; 1923-43 with Duke Ellington.” 1956-09-30. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 23, 2024. <>.
APA: Roots of jazz; 1923-43 with Duke Ellington. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from