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Chapter
8
Duke Ellington and Count Basie
Overview

Here we introduce two powerfully influential bands. As one of America’s foremost creative artists, Ellington post-1927 receives full attention. We discuss his achievements as a jazz composer, as well as his complicated relationship with the musicians strongly associated with him (Johnny Hodges, Cootie Williams) and his co-composer, Billy Strayhorn. We also address new styles from Kansas City and the “old Southwest,” including the blues piano style known as boogie-woogie. A number of bands came from this part of the country, including Andy Kirk’s (with Mary Lou Williams) and “territory bands” like the Blue Devils. But our discussion of “Kansas City swing” basically boils down to Count Basie and his orchestra, the best known and most influential exemplar of the style. This chapter also shows how Kansas City jazz was affected by the informal jam session and the head arrangement.

  • Pete Johnson/Big Joe Turner, It’s All Right, Baby
  • Andy Kirk/Mary Lou Williams, Walkin’ and Swingin’
  • Count Basie, One O’Clock Jump
  • Duke Ellington, Mood Indigo
  • Duke Ellington, Conga Brava
  • Duke Ellington, Blood Count

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