There could be no way in good conscience that I could let this day go by and not say a few words about the greatest American composer to ever put pencil to manuscript paper Edward Kennedy Ellington. Duke’s music is the American Experience, all of it: the good, the bad, the spiritual, the carnal, happy and sad. Ellington not only broke rules of conventional composition he broke them so well that I believe he created new ones all his own.

He wrote with the players in his band personalities in mind, not like so many “producers” do these days where there is a one size fits all mentality and no consideration is given to individuality. All the lessons we need to learn are in his expansive catalog we just need more exposure to his music for the masses because it is a treasure. Everytime I hear “Take The A Train” I stand like I’m at a sporting event because it sounds like a national anthem to me.

After the break I would like to post a few of my favorite Ellington compositions along with the above “Sophisticated Lady” which I was introduced to when I was 13 years old playing lead alto in my middle school’s jazz band. That melody was so foreign yet so beautiful and I had heard that name and seen pictures of this Ellington but who was he really? I’ve spent the last few decades coming up with the same conclusion… he was the greatest.

Ivan Orr is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and writer. A native of Charlottesville, Virginia Ivan was involved with the forming and nascent days of The Music Resource Center as its first Program Director. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan currently resides in Richmond, VA where he maintains an active performance and production schedule while serving as the Music Editor for Grown Folks Music, a position he has held since 2010.