Archive for duke ellington

Tributes to a King – Max Roach – Billy Taylor – Duke Ellington

Posted in In Memoriam, The Jazz Continues... with tags , , , , on April 4, 2015 by curtjazz

martin luther kingAs most of you know, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated 47 years ago today in Memphis. Much has been written over the years about that tragic day in American history, including a previous post in this blog. So today, I choose to honor Dr. King with musical tributes from three of jazz’s all-time greats; Max Roach, Dr. Billy Taylor  and Duke Ellington.

Hope you enjoy them…

Max Roach plays a duet with excerpts from Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech 

If You Are Concerned Then Show It – from Dr. Billy Taylor’s Peaceful Warrior Suite – Dedicated to the Memory of Dr. Martin Luther King

“Martin Luther King” was the 3rd Movement of Duke Ellington’s Three Black Kings suite; one of the last symphonic works completed by Mr. Ellington. As he lay dying in his hospital room, Ellington dictated instructions for the performance  and orchestration of this piece to his son, Mercer. It was not publicly performed until after Duke’s death.

An added bonus! Here is a fourth clip that I just stumbled upon, describing a meeting between Dr. King and Duke Ellington – both, understandably, were in awe of each other…


How I “Met” The Duke

Posted in The Jazz Continues... with tags , , , , on May 1, 2014 by curtjazz

Duke EllingtonI spent many hours in front of the television as a child. Growing up in the New York City area, we had at least a half-dozen stations (a lot for the 1960s) to choose from to keep us entertained. My favorite was Channel 11 (WPIX) because even then, my tastes were a little different from other kids my age. In addition to The Little Rascals, The Three Stooges and Popeye, I also enjoyed when they would drop in cartoons that were not the standard fare.

I remember seeing the animated feature below a number of times, when it was used as filler to get the programmers to their next time slot. It drew me in because the style of animation was different and the black man playing the piano was as cool and elegant as anyone I had ever seen. Even at age seven, I knew he had to be somebody special.  He was. He was Duke Ellington. The animated short was called “A Date With The Duke”. The creator was a man named George Pal and the early stop motion technique that he used to create his “Puppetoons” birthed Gumby, Wallace and Gromit, the work of Ray Harryhausen and many others that we know today. Mr. Pal also became quite controversial for his use of stereotypical black characters in some of his other shorts such as the “Jasper” series; which he tried to make amends for with “John Henry” (which was also in the regular filler rotation on Channel 11).

All of this, of course I found out many years later.  What I knew then is that I was always happy to see this “cartoon” featuring the elegant Duke Ellington and the cool perfume bottles, performing The Perfume Suite. It planted the seeds for what became a true love and appreciation for the Duke and his art.

I had been looking for it for years and I was happy again to see it pop up on YouTube recently.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and still do.