In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Honorific.”
Who would I honour with a special day. There a two people who spring naturally to mind: Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington and Ol’ Satchmo Louis Armstrong. Not only for their obvious contribution to music and Jazz, but also the role they played in a social context.
But who to honour? While Satchmo my have the more commercial edge thanks to the All Stars, it is important to remember his work in the twenties as sideman and leader which helped define the path of Jazz, whether it be his scat singing on West End Blues or his influential Cornet playing.
The Duke on the other had, correct me if I’m wrong, didn’t quite have the commercial draw of Louis Armstrong but it is fair to say Ellington’s music is much more sophisticated and his skills as leader and performer speak for themselves. Duke took a lot of risks even in his early days, take a look at the tribute to his mother, Reminiscing in Tempo. This was the mid-30’s and the LP was still a long time off, but nevertheless Duke composed a piece which clocks in at just under 13 minutes which was virtually unheard of back them outside classical music. The problem being the piece ended up having to go over four sides on 78s. A move which bought him under criticism from some fronts, but that never phased him. Ellington would go on and always push the limits, working with modern Jazz greats like Mingus and Coltrane
So yes the Duke wins. May 24th should be Duke Ellington day. 24th of May as that was the day he died and we are marking the grand achievements of a man’s life, not the beginning