A friend emailed last night and reminded me that today, April 29, is Edward Kennedy Ellington’s birthday. The composer was born in Washington, D.C. on this date in 1899. I think I have said this before, but I have always wondered by artists in other genres such as Matisse (1869), Picasso (1881), and Braque (1882) are still considered Modern while jazzmen also born in the nineteenth century are regarded with nostalgia. Intellectually Ellington has had more influence on me than any other creative person. The reason I say this is because I internalized something he once said about the audience never knowing how hard you work to pull it off. I don’t compare myself to Duke Ellington, but I like to think those who read my work take from it what they do without thinking about the effort on the back end. What it takes to make it happen, the reader should never know. I remember seeing “Beyond Category: The Musical Genius of Duke Ellington,” a traveling exhibit sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution, when it was on view at the African American Museum of Dallas in 1996. When I visit Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx his modest resting place there on Jazz Corner is one of the places I alway visit.
Here is a little something for your Saturday.