Duke Ellington, who was born this day in 1899, was by any measure the greatest composer this country has ever produced. Over a career that spanned more than half of a century, Ellington composed more than 1,000 works, many of which belonged more in concert halls than jazz clubs (which is where they ended up; see below.) In an era when jazz wasn't considered "real" music, Ellington, through his charm and sheer productivtity, proved otherwise. (Ellington was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1965 but no award was given; he was posthumously awarded a special Pulitzer in 1999.)
Since the day I launched this site, I've had a quote from Duke at the top of the page which sums up our general approach: "There are two kinds of music: good music...and the other kind." Eight years on, I believe that more than ever.