Make sure to tune in to Jazz at 100 every Thursday night from 7-9! These are the two hours that aired on January 11.
Duke Ellington was the well-spring that flowed through many decades of jazz. In 1938, Ellington found his soul-mate in composer/arranger Billy Strayhorn. By the early 1940s, Strayhorn combined with bassist Jimmy Blanton and tenor saxophonist Ben Webster to reinvigorate both Ellington and his band. In the next hour, we will feature the compositions and arrangements of Ellington’s most important collaborator, Billy Strayhorn, from Take the A Train and Chelsea Bridge through Satin Doll and Lush Life to his dying lament – Blood Count – from 1967.
In the 1940’s, some twenty-five to thirty years into the history of recorded jazz, the sometimes violent reaction against the bebop revolution caused a hard look into the rear view and the jazz world focused on its own history. Many of the players who led the first jazz revolution were still alive, ready for prime time, and welcoming of another chance at center stage. The outside forces that led the small ensembles of bebop and R&B into prominence, also supported the resurgence of quintets and sextets playing New Orleans-style jazz.
Catch up on last week’s show before tuning in on Thursday Night from 7-9!
In the eleventh hour of Jazz at 100, we followed Count Basie through the Benny Moten Band in Kansas City and heard his first recordings as a leader. In 1937, after Benny Moten’s death, he took the nation by storm with his driving band lead by the “All American Rhythm Section” and the dual tenor saxophones of Herschel Evans and Lester Young.
In the last hour, we heard Count Basie emerge as an exciting new voice from Kansas City. In this hour, we return to New York to follow Duke Ellington’s innovative path through the 1930s as he experiments with longer musical forms while building one of his greatest bands featuring tenor player Ben Webster and bassist Jimmy Blanton.
Be prepared for this week’s Jazz at 100 by catching up on both hours of last week’s show. You can listen to them right here and be sure to tune in every Thursday from 7-9.
In this hour, we’ll return to Harlem to listen to maybe the most important band leader in jazz history and one of the most significant composers of the music – Duke Ellington.
“Calling Ellington a bandleader is like calling Bach an organist.” – Gary Giddens
A contemporary of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington moved from Washington, DC to New York at roughly the same time and established himself as a recording artist. By 1927, he was established in residency at the Cotton Club, broadcasting nationally on the radio and building a repertoire of jazz compositions custom-made for the specific players in the band.
Large jazz ensembles, such as Ellington’s, soon to be known as “Big Bands”, evolved through the 1920s with significant innovations led by bandleaders Fletcher Henderson, Benny Carter, Jimmy Lunceford and Don Redman, and arrangers Carter, Redman, Edgar Sampson and Sy Oliver. By the mid-1930s Big Bands dominated popular music.