Friday, 14 November 2008

Music transformed [updated]

Seventy-five years ago Duke Ellington took some of his orchestra to London and, as a retrospective in the UK Independent points out, the visit "transformed how Ellington, American music and African American music were viewed on both sides of the Atlantic":
It changed how Ellington viewed his own artistry, encouraging him to experiment further beyond the danceable sounds audiences typically expected of black artists in the jazz world. And in the US, Ellington's 1933 British tour significantly pushed forward the idea of Americans finally accepting their own music as a serious art form.
The band were shocked by their reception. British audiences bestowed the kind of respect usually only accorded classical artists, five- to 10-minute ovations before the band played a note.
Richly deserved. :-)

PS: If you're an Ellington fan then don't forget to check out the The Independent's photo gallery accompanying the article. And if you're not an Ellington fan, then you should be. Here's 'Mood Indigo.'

UPDATE: What's happened to black music since Ellington! As I re-read this post I remembered Ed Cline's reflections on how "The great black musicians who contributed to American culture, e.g., Scott Joplin, Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, and Louis Armstrong, have apparently been disowned in favor of the malevolent "dissing" and droning of "rap."
"Rap," of course, cannot even be considered as music. Taking together its belligerent tone, its monotonous, metronomic beat, obscene and homicidal "lyrics," and confrontational delivery, it is simply a species of malevolence.
Beautifully put. It's worth reading Cline's 'Why the Music Died' if you want to get a handle on how a culture that once revered 'Maple Leaf Rag,' 'Mood Indigo,' 'Flying Home' and 'Stardust' now listens with ear-destroying in-your-face malevolence to 'Suck My Dick, Bitch,' 'Murder Avenue,' and 'Bitches Ain't Shit.'


  1. Thanks for that post, PC. I love old jazz.

  2. Let's not forget the women of Jazz - Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne, Sarah Vaughan, Mary Lou Williams and Josephine Baker.

  3. Even though I am but a young whippersnapper I much enjoy the Duke. But I can appreciate rap for what it is too.


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