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.
In case some of you out there might still need convincing, check our this concert by the Duke Ellington Orchestra at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam in 1958. As good as it gets.