The Top 100 Greatest New Yorkers — #18
Duke Ellington (1899 – 1974)
The advent of jazz in the early days of the Harlem Renaissance is almost synonymous with the rising star of the legendary composer, pianist, and bandleader, Duke Ellington. Leader of the house band at the Cotton Club during the height of the Renaissance, Ellington became famous for his “swing” style (a word he popularized in musical terms). His orchestra’s signature tune became Take the A Train by his longtime friend and writing partner Billy Strayhorn. A staple of Harlem society, Ellington lived by the A train as well, for a time on 157th Street and for a time on 106th. He also performed at the Hotel Pennsylvania’s integrated Café Rouge Ballroom and, in 1943, launched a series of annual concerts at Carnegie Hall. He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery across the lane from Miles Davis.
- Posted in: 10 Best List