Duke Ellington Essay

1440 words - 6 pages

Duke Ellington

The Harlem Renaissance was an era full of life, excitement, and activity. The world in all aspects was in gradual recovery from the depression. The world of music was
expanding, sharing it’s enthusiasm throughout the world. The evolution of jazz aroused the curiosity of the nation. As Blacks received their freedom, they were able to
express themselves as talented individuals. Certain blacks contributed immensely to the era of jazz, for example, Duke Ellington. Ellington entered a brand-new, exciting
era as he grew up. As Ellington became an adolescent, the entertainment world was undergoing rapid, change. The change was driven by the deep, persuasive shift in the
American spirit. The country was anxious to recover what it lost during the Depression. Ellington’s jazz creations were unknown and alien to the world, however, Ellington
received the chance to succeed at the Cotton Club. The results of Ellington’s achievements at the Cotton Club were extensive, leading him to success and to national
fame. The reasons for his outcome need to be revealed because Ellington was one of the most important figures in the era of jazz. During the Harlem Renaissance, some
of the clubs were segregated and some mixed. The Cotton Club’s patrons were mostly whites and the club employed mostly blacks. The Cotton Club was the centerpiece
of New York’s entertainment business. It was the springboard to fame for many singer, dancers, and performers and was indeed the board Ellington jumped from. The club
management decided what audiences wanted to see in their clubs. As a result of the Harlem Renaissance and the growing interest in black entertainment, audiences
enjoyed watching the many talented black performers. To have such a name as the Cotton Club brings to mind images of the Old South. Ellington auditioned at the Cotton
Club because he found it to be an opportunity that he would most likely never stumble upon again. In December 1927, Ellington presented one of the most famous
openings in jazz history. During the time of the Harlem Renaissance, everyone had different opinions on the new style of music. Some enjoyed listening to the new style of
music while others had a taste for the old, more familiar styles. Ned Williams, who became Ellington’s publicist, commented on Ellington’s first performance at the Cotton
Club, “I can’t say I was too much impressed with the Ellington crew on that visit. It definitely didn’t have the form and polish it acquired later on.” (Collier, 80) The Cotton
Club was the ideal setting for the Duke Ellington Orchestra. It’s “jungle” atmosphere was perfect for the style of music Ellington was expected to play. Ellington remarks
about the setting of the club: “During one period at the Cotton Club, much attention was paid to acts with an African setting, and to accompany these we developed what
was termed a ‘jungle style’ jazz” (93)

The Cotton Club lost some of its freshness as performers played...

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