Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington (April 29, 1899 - May 24, 1974)
was an American composer, pianist, and band leader who was one of
the most influential figures in jazz, the King of Keys, if not in
all American music. As a composer and a band leader, Ellington's
reputation has increased since his death, with thematic repackaging
of his signature music often becoming best-sellers. Posthumous
recognition of his work includes a special award citation from the
Pulitzer Prize Board.
One of the twentieth century's best-known African American
celebrities, Ellington recorded for many American record companies,
and appeared in several films. Ellington and his orchestra toured
the United States and Europe regularly before and after World War
II. Ellington led his band from 1923 until his death in 1974. His
son Mercer Ellington took over the band until his death in 1996.
Today the band performs under the direction of Barry Lee Hall.,