It appears your browser does not have it turned on. Please see your browser settings for this feature. EMBED for wordpress. Want more? Advanced embedding details, examples, and help! Count Basie was among the most important bandleaders of the swing era. With the exception of a brief period in the early '50s, he led a big band from until his death almost 50 years later, and the band continued to perform after he died.
Basie's orchestra was characterized by a light, swinging rhythm section that he led from the piano, lively ensemble work, and generous soloing. Its subject matter did not make it appealing to Broadway; Ellington had unfulfilled plans to take it there. The settlement of the first recording ban of —43 , leading to an increase in royalties paid to musicians, had a serious effect on the financial viability of the big bands, including Ellington's Orchestra.
His income as a songwriter ultimately subsidized it. Although he always spent lavishly and drew a respectable income from the orchestra's operations, the band's income often just covered expenses. Musicians enlisting in the military and travel restrictions made touring difficult for the big bands and dancing became subject to a new tax, which continued for many years, affecting the choices of club owners.
As the cost of hiring big bands had increased, club owners now found smaller jazz groups more cost-effective. Some of Ellington's new works, such as the wordless vocal feature "Transblucency" with Kay Davis , was not going to have a similar reach as the newly emerging stars.
Ellington continued on his own course through these tectonic shifts. While Count Basie was forced to disband his whole ensemble and work as an octet for a time, Ellington was able to tour most of Western Europe between April 6 and June 30, , with the orchestra playing 74 dates over 77 days.
Ellington later presented its score to music-loving President Harry Truman. Also during his time in Europe, Ellington would compose the music for a stage production by Orson Welles. In , Ellington suffered a significant loss of personnel: Sonny Greer, Lawrence Brown and, most importantly, Johnny Hodges left to pursue other ventures, although only Greer was a permanent departee. Tenor player Paul Gonsalves had joined in December  after periods with Count Basie and Dizzy Gillespie and stayed for the rest of his life, while Clark Terry joined in November During the early s, Ellington's career was at a low point with his style being generally seen as outmoded, but his reputation did not suffer as badly as some artists.
Ellington's appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival on July 7, returned him to wider prominence and introduced him to a new generation of fans. The feature " Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue " comprised two tunes that had been in the band's book since but largely forgotten until Ellington, who had abruptly ended the band's scheduled set because of the late arrival of four key players, called the two tunes as the time was approaching midnight.
Announcing that the two pieces would be separated by an interlude played by tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves , Ellington proceeded to lead the band through the two pieces, with Gonsalves' chorus marathon solo whipping the crowd into a frenzy, leading the Maestro to play way beyond the curfew time despite urgent pleas from festival organizer George Wein to bring the program to an end. The concert made international headlines, led to one of only five Time magazine cover stories dedicated to a jazz musician,  and resulted in an album produced by George Avakian that would become the best-selling LP of Ellington's career.
According to Avakian, Ellington was dissatisfied with aspects of the performance and felt the musicians had been under rehearsed. Not until was the concert recording properly released for the first time. The revived attention brought about by the Newport appearance should not have surprised anyone, Johnny Hodges had returned the previous year, and Ellington's collaboration with Strayhorn had been renewed around the same time, under terms more amenable to the younger man.
The original Ellington at Newport album was the first release in a new recording contract with Columbia Records which yielded several years of recording stability, mainly under producer Irving Townsend , who coaxed both commercial and artistic productions from Ellington.
His hope that television would provide a significant new outlet for his type of jazz was not fulfilled. Tastes and trends had moved on without him. Festival appearances at the new Monterey Jazz Festival and elsewhere provided venues for live exposure, and a European tour in was well received. Such Sweet Thunder , based on Shakespeare's plays and characters, and The Queen's Suite , dedicated to Britain's Queen Elizabeth II , were products of the renewed impetus which the Newport appearance helped to create, although the latter work was not commercially issued at the time.
The late s also saw Ella Fitzgerald record her Duke Ellington Songbook Verve with Ellington and his orchestra—a recognition that Ellington's songs had now become part of the cultural canon known as the ' Great American Songbook '.
Around this time Ellington and Strayhorn began to work on film soundtrack scoring. The first of these was Anatomy of a Murder ,  a courtroom drama directed by Otto Preminger and featuring James Stewart , in which Ellington appeared fronting a roadhouse combo. Film historians have recognized the soundtrack "as a landmark — the first significant Hollywood film music by African Americans comprising non-diegetic music, that is, music whose source is not visible or implied by action in the film, like an on-screen band.
In the early s, Ellington embraced recording with artists who had been friendly rivals in the past, or were younger musicians who focused on later styles. The Count Meets the Duke He signed to Frank Sinatra 's new Reprise label , but the association with the label was short-lived. Musicians who had previously worked with Ellington returned to the Orchestra as members: Lawrence Brown in and Cootie Williams in The writing and playing of music is a matter of intent You can't just throw a paint brush against the wall and call whatever happens art.
My music fits the tonal personality of the player. I think too strongly in terms of altering my music to fit the performer to be impressed by accidental music. You can't take doodling seriously. He was now performing all over the world; a significant part of each year was spent on overseas tours. Ellington wrote an original score for director Michael Langham 's production of Shakespeare's Timon of Athens at the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada which opened on July 29, Langham has used it for several subsequent productions, including a much later adaptation by Stanley Silverman which expands the score with some of Ellington's best-known works.
Ellington was shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize for Music in but no prize was ultimately awarded that year. Fate doesn't want me to be famous too young. In September , he premiered the first of his Sacred Concerts. He created a jazz Christian liturgy. Although the work received mixed reviews, Ellington was proud of the composition and performed it dozens of times.
This concert was followed by two others of the same type in and , known as the Second and Third Sacred Concerts. These generated controversy in what was already a tumultuous time in the United States. Many saw the Sacred Music suites as an attempt to reinforce commercial support for organized religion, though Ellington simply said it was "the most important thing I've done". Like Haydn and Mozart , Ellington conducted his orchestra from the piano — he always played the keyboard parts when the Sacred Concerts were performed.
Duke turned 65 in the spring of but showed no signs of slowing down as he continued to make vital and innovative recordings, including The Far East Suite , New Orleans Suite , Latin American Suite and The Afro-Eurasian Eclipse , much of it inspired by his world tours. It was during this time that he recorded his only album with Frank Sinatra , entitled Francis A. Ellington performed what is considered his final full concert in a ballroom at Northern Illinois University on March 20, Ellington married his high school sweetheart, Edna Thompson d.
Ellington was joined in New York City by his wife and son in the late twenties, but the couple soon permanently separated. In he left his family his son was 19 and moved in with Beatrice "Evie" Ellis, a Cotton Club employee. Their relationship, though stormy, continued after Ellington met and formed a relationship with Fernanda de Castro Monte in the early s. Ellington supported both women for the rest of his life. Ellington's sister Ruth — later ran Tempo Music, his music publishing company.
Ruth's second husband was the bass-baritone McHenry Boatwright , whom she met when he sang at her brother's funeral. Ellington died on May 24, , of complications from lung cancer and pneumonia ,  a few weeks after his 75th birthday. At his funeral, attended by over 12, people at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine , Ella Fitzgerald summed up the occasion: "It's a very sad day. A genius has passed. In Ellington's birthplace, Washington, D.
Another school is P. Ellington's residence at Sherman Avenue, NW, during the years —,  is marked by a bronze plaque. Mint's program honoring the District and the U.
In a United States commemorative stamp was issued featuring Ellington's likeness. Ellington lived out his final years in Manhattan, in a townhouse at Riverside Drive near West th Street. His sister Ruth, who managed his publishing company, also lived there, and his son Mercer lived next door. According to UCLA magazine:. On the day of the concert, Ellington accidentally mixed up the venues and drove to USC instead. He eventually arrived at the UCLA campus and, to apologize for his tardiness, played to the packed crowd for more than four hours.
And so, "Sir Duke" and his group played the first-ever jazz performance in a concert venue. The Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition and Festival is a nationally renowned annual competition for prestigious high school bands. Started in at Jazz at Lincoln Center , the festival is named after Ellington because of the large focus that the festival places on his works.
After Duke died, his son Mercer took over leadership of the orchestra, continuing until his own death in Like the Count Basie Orchestra , this "ghost band" continued to release albums for many years. Mercer Ellington had been handling all administrative aspects of his father's business for several decades.
Mercer's children continue a connection with their grandfather's work. Ellington composed incessantly to the very last days of his life. Music was indeed his mistress; it was his total life and his commitment to it was incomparable and unalterable. In jazz he was a giant among giants. Right On. Freddie Green. The Blues Done Come Back. Ernie Wilkins. Slow But Sure. Manny Albam.
You for Me. Soft Drink. Quincy Jones.Find album reviews, stream songs, credits and award information for King Of Swing - Count Basie on AllMusic - - Following a brief lull earlier in the s,.