Born in the 19 th century, Duke Ellington moved through the 20th either initiating or accompanying every modern phase that traversed the world of jazz. He began appearing at the Cotton Club in 1927, and went on to become no doubt one of that century's major jazz figures, recognized by both his peers and an audience that was immense. From the New Orleans style to the big bands of the swing era, from Swing itself to Bebop, and from the quot;Cool" to the modern jazz of Coltrane and Mingus, he composed and played with peerless musicians and made the transformation of jazz immortal, all in the course of a career lasting fifty years. His own orchestra made each phase tangible, and he composed a huge number of pieces for them. To those talents he added another: that of revealing, bringing to full bloom and giving new visibility to many, many musicians: Bubber Miley, Johnny Hodges, Cootie Williams, Rex Stewart, Ray Nance, Joe Nanton, Cat Anderson, Billy Strayhorn… The list goes on.
The four sides of this album — covering the period 1928-1962 — illustrate not only the path of the
composer and the career of the conductor, pianist and bandleader; they also show the evolution of jazz throughout fifty years.
The history of music shows us that different kinds and forms follow each other. And that the latest trend overshadows the one that came before it. Today it's difficult to say exactly which trend dominates, as there are so many music currents that overlap and intersect. Mainstream exists no longer. Yet one thing is certain: each music form is built on the music that precedes it. There would be no jazz without classical music, no rock without blues, no rock without jazz, no rap without soul music, no sampling without the riffs of either soul or rock… and therefore, inside each genre you find different chapters in the history of music. And that is why it is so important to understand their origins: they shed the light that is necessary for an understanding of the music born every day.
The richness of jazz lies at the origin of so much music today that it is essential to discover this creative wealth. The Essential Works of Masters of Jazz bring to light those 20th century creations that still exert an influence on the majority of musicians today — whether they are aware of it or not.
The Essential Works of Masters of Jazz gather the fundamental creations of the music of today.