To complete our celebration of the centennial of Duke Ellington's birth (April 29th, 1899) a talk with music critic Gary Giddins. He won the National Book Critics Circle award for criticism for his new book "Visions of Jazz: The First Century." (Oxford Press). Giddins has written for The Village Voice for 25 years.
Biographer David Hajdu has just written "Lush Life: A Biography of Billy Strayhorn" (Farrar, Straus and Girous). The book explores the life of Strayhorn, a Duke Ellington collaborator who composed "Take the 'A' Train," "Lush Life" and "Something to Live For." Strayhorn was black and gay, but maintained a low profile while working with Ellington's band.
We remember band leader and composer Mercer Ellington, the son of Duke Ellington. He perpetuated the big band tradition his father made famous as head of the Duke Ellington Band. When he was a young man, Mercer Ellington had hoped to break into his father's band on the saxophone. But after years of frustration, he could see that he would never crack the legendary Ellington reed section. He finally was accepted as a trombone player and later played french horn and trumpet. With the death of his father in 1974, Mercer Ellington took over his father's orchestra.
Band leader and composer Mercer Ellington is the son of Duke Ellington, and leads the Duke Ellington Band. As a young man, Mercer Ellington played trombone, French horn and trumpet in his father's ensemble. Two recent Mercer Ellington albums have won wide acclaim: "Digital Duke" and "For Ellington," performed by the Modern Jazz Quartet.
Jazz Critic Kevin Whitehead will review a reissue of the 1959 album, "Ellington Jazz Party." His review includes a discussion of the controversial biography of Duke Ellington by James Lincoln Collier, controversial because Collier alleges that true credit for many of Ellington's most famous tunes belongs to his band members.
Kenny Burell has been one of the premier jazz guitarists since the 1950s. His new album is "Groovin' High." Burrell is in town to participate in the Philadelphia Jazz Arts Conference, where he delivered a talk on the importance of Duke Ellington. Burrell joins the show to discuss his guitar-playing brothers, his influences, and why he was Duke Ellington's favorite guitar player despite not having recorded with him.
Son of Duke Ellington, composer and musician Mercer Ellington is the conductor of the Duke Ellington Orchestra. The Orchestra will join Peter Nero and the Philly Pops for a pair of concerts of Duke Ellington's work, including a symphony, "The Three Black Kings / Les Trois Rois Noirs," finished by Mercer Ellington after his father's death.
Mercer Ellington is a trumpeter, composer, and band leader. He is also the son of jazz legend Duke Ellington. Mercer Ellington is the conductor for the musical based on Duke Ellington's work, "Sophisticated Ladies." Mercer Ellington joins the show to discuss the musical and his father.