Duke Ellington: The Symphonic Portrait
Duke Ellington (1899 - 1974) carries a musical legacy that extends beyond the realms of being a writer or bandleader. His music still stands as a brilliant model of American compositional creativity. Although Ellington had a profound influence in the world of jazz, his mastery extends even further into several other compositional outputs including concerti, tone poems, film scores, ballets, big band arrangements and several operas. The four works found on Duke Ellington: Symphonic Portrait are some of these masterworks that were eventually arranged for the symphony orchestra. The four selections found on the album are Black, Brown, and Beige Suite, New World A-Comin, Harlem, and Three Black Kings. The United States Air Force Orchestra, led by Colonel Lowell E. Graham, plays each piece brilliantly. Each selection varies greatly in structure, however Ellington's visionary compositional style, combined with his discomfort with musical labels such as jazz and classical, resulted in a genre that integrated these distinct styles most effectively.