Part of the piece was incorporated into his work, “Oklahoma Stomp” which was recorded under is band Six Jolly Jesters in 1929 (Tucker 34). In 1917, Ellington began his music career, playing piano at night throughout his hometown. The first group he formed was The Duke’s Serenaders and their first job was at True Reformer’s Hall where he and his group played from 8pm to 1am for which he was paid 75 cents (Hasse 43). As their career progressed, Ellington acted as booking agent and business manager, having an innate ability to make and close profitable deals.
Client Last Name 3 He also understood the need for and the way in which to create a persona. He developed a style for most aspects of his life, including having his friend Black Bowie go down to a club or event that he would be attending and spread the news that he would soon arrive. After this, he would then have his friend Jerry Rhea go down and throw open the door upon Duke’s arrival announce “Get out of the way, ‘cause here comes Duke” (Hasse 51).
Duke Ellington said, “If jazz means anything at all, which is questionable, it means the same thing that it meant to musicians fifty years ago - freedom of expression. I used to have a definition, but I don’t think I have one anymore, unless it is that it is a music with an African foundation which came out of an American environment” (Dance 2). In attempting to classify the music that was created by Ellington and his orchestra, many terms were applied, such as Chicago style, Swing, Hard Bop, etc. , but the way in which the development of the music came into its creative voice left it indefinable by anything other than the foundation that Ellington mentioned - as African from an American environment. In his popular composition, “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If You Ain’t Got That Swing)”, the suggestion is made of a style of music that wouldn’t be popular for several years, known as Swing.
Written in 1932, the work was first recorded by Ellington and his band, reaching number six on the charts, but then later that year again reaching number seven after being released by the Mills Brothers (Jazz).
While not a perfect example of the performing style, the piece was a precursor to a more definitive style within American music called swing - and was the first public reference within a song to that style. While other musicians such as Jelly Roll Morton and James “Bubber” Miley had been using the Client Last Name 4 reference and the style within their music, with this piece it was brought forward into popularity (Schuller 50).
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