a DUKE named ELLINGTON was originally commissioned by PBS American Masters Series in 1988, and broadcast nationally in two successive weeks.

On the 2007 DVD release of a DUKE named ELLINGTON, parts one and two are consecutive, with an optional intermission after part one.

Includes the Duke Ellington early years, from the gilded 20's through the Great Depression of the 30's, when his emergence as a dynamic musical force inspired and uplifted an entire generation.

Performances ranging from the rare to the classic, from "Timon of Athens" and "Ad Lib on Nippon" to "Rockin' in Rhythm" and "The Opener", are interlaced with the anecdotes and early recollections of vocalists Adelaide Hall and Herb Jeffries, clarinetist Jimmy Hamilton, bassist-composer Charlie Mingus and tenor saxophonist Ben Webster, providing the audience with intimate, first-hand insights into the Duke Ellington experience.

Outstanding artists who knew him as a peer, from pianist Willie The Lion Smith to pianist Teddy Wilson, recall Duke Ellington's unique approach to his creative artistry, his tireless search for new musical sounds and forms, his foibles, his passions, and his spirituality.


The Duke Ellington renaissance of the 1950's, ignited by the spectacular Duke Ellington triumph at the Newport Jazz Festival, his irrepressible experimentation, his development of extended works, including suites, religious music and ballet scores, his strong influence on yet another generation, are all recounted by music critic Leonard Feather and artists such as pianist-composer Herbie Hancock, one of Sweden's foremost vocalists Alice Babs, and legendary choreographer Alvin Ailey.

Also captured for this production are the remembrances of outstanding musical artists and others who reflect on how their lives and their professional experiences have been deeply influenced by the Duke Ellington phenomenon, including drummer Louis Bellson, trumpeter Clark Terry, and more. Musical excerpts include Duke Ellington Orchestral performances from "Black, Brown and Beige", "The Sacred Concerts", "The Far East Suite" and climactic dance sequences, choreographed by Alvin Ailey, from "Night Creature" and "The River".


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