Jazz Icons: Duke Ellington features the earliest-known filmed full-length concert by one of the 20th Century's greatest songwriters and bandleaders. Filmed at Amsterdam's famed Concertgebouw, this 80-minute concert features the 16-piece Duke Ellington Orchestra two years after their stunning performance at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival,which Duke considered his second birth. This epic performance includes legendary players Clark Terry, Johnny Hodges, Harry Carney, Paul Gonsalves, Quentin Jackson and Ray Nance performing some of the most beloved American music ever written.
Foreword: My name is Edward Kennedy Ellington II, and Duke Ellington is my grandfather. So much for all my positive qualities.
During my life, there have been numerous attempts, by friends and family, to show me the proper path. Unfortunately, their noble endeavors have rendered mixed results.
Two lessons by my grandfather come to mind.
Once, while performing at the Rainbow Room in Manhattan, Ellington discovered the band lacked one musician for the union mandate. He immediately told me to borrow one of my father Mercer’s trumpets and sit next to Cootie Williams in the trumpet section.
The euphoria of actually being in the Duke Ellington Band was so overwhelming that I began to believe I could actually play. As I raised the trumpet to my lips, Cootie said, “If you play one note, you’ll be dead before it’s heard.”
—Edward K. Ellington II