Two days of the Duke
When UCLA students were entranced by Duke Ellington's provocative tunes at a Culver City club in 1937, they asked the budding musical great to play a free concert in Royce Hall.
Duke Ellington. - Photo courtesy of Kenny Burrell.
"I've been waiting for someone to ask us!" Ellington exclaimed.
On the day of the concert, Ellington accidentally mixed up the venues and drove to USC instead. He eventually arrived at the UCLA campus and, to apologize for his tardiness, played to the packed crowd for more than four hours. And so, "Sir Duke" and his group played the first-ever jazz performance in a concert venue.
Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington wrote more pieces than any other composer — more than 3,000. His oppression and subsequent struggle as a non-conforming, creative African American in Harlem during Prohibition were the roots for timeless tunes that speak to all races, genders and social classes alike.
In celebration, the UCLA Jazz Orchestra and the UCLA Latin Jazz Ensemble will perform at the "Duke Ellington 110th Birthday Anniversary Festival of Music" on April 4 and 5 at Schoenberg Hall.