Duke Ellington

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Duke Ellington

CBS Records Contract Signed - 1972

Duke Ellington 1972 Signed Contract. Three pages, dated October 1, 1972 on CBS letterhead, signed by Ellington in blue ink. In the agreement, Ellington requests the “licensing back of his 1956 recording “The Queen’s Suite”, which was written as a thank-you to Queen Elizabeth. Very Fine condition. Accompanied by James Spence Letter of Authentication.

Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington (1899-1974) was an American composer, pianist, and big band leader. Ellington wrote over 1,000 compositions. In the words of Bob Blumenthal of The Boston Globe, “In the century since his birth, there has been no greater composer, American or otherwise, than Edward Kennedy Ellington.”

Ellington’s appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival on July 7, 1956 returned him to wider prominence and exposed him to new audiences. The feature Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue, with saxophonist Paul Gonsalves’s six-minute saxophone solo, had been in the band’s book since 1937, but on this occasion nearly created a riot. The revived attention should not have surprised anyone—Hodges had returned to the fold the previous year, and Ellington’s collaboration with Strayhorn had been renewed around the same time, under terms more amenable to the younger man. Such Sweet Thunder (1957), based on Shakespeare’s plays and characters, and The Queen’s Suite (the subject of this contract, and which Ellington dedicated to Queen Elizabeth II—and the music for which was never released during his lifetime), were products of the renewed impetus which the Newport appearance helped to create. 

A prominent figure in the history of jazz, Ellington’s music stretched into various other genres, including blues, gospel, film scores, popular, and classical. His career spanned more than 50 years and included leading his orchestra, composing an inexhaustible songbook, scoring for movies, composing stage musicals, and world tours. Several of his instrumental works were adapted into songs that became standards. Due to his inventive use of the orchestra, or big band, and thanks to his eloquence and extraordinary charisma, he is generally considered to have elevated the perception of jazz to an art form on a par with other traditional genres of music. His reputation increased after his death and the Pulitzer Prize Board bestowed on him a special posthumous honor in 1999.


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