For immediate release
February 12, 1999
NPR's Jazz Profiles Honors Duke Ellington's Centennial
Ten-Part Series Begins April 7
WASHINGTON, DC — For ten weeks beginning April 7, NPR's Jazz Profiles® celebrates Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington's 100th birthday with stories, insights, interviews, and music. "Duke Ellington: A Centennial Birthday Celebration," hosted by singer Nancy Wilson, is one of the most comprehensive Ellington profiles on record, viewing Ellington from public, private, and artistic angles: the man, the bandleader, pianist, songwriter, collaborator, influential legend, and one of America's most prolific and innovative composers. Local broadcast times and locations for this Jazz Profiles series are available online.
"Duke Ellington: A Centennial Birthday Celebration" weaves together Ellington's story with his music (as performed then and now) and musical demonstrations by trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and pianist Dr. Billy Taylor. Archival and recent interviews tell the rest of the story, using the exclusive, combined archives of NPR, the Smithsonian's Duke Ellington Archives and Jazz Oral History program, and Robert Levi films. These rare recordings include Ellington's own story of how he got his career-catapulting job at Harlem's legendary Cotton Club. The series also features the artist's friends, relatives, scholars, and collaborators: Mercer Ellington, Peggy Lee, Billy Eckstein, Cootie Williams, Irving Mills, Jean Bach, Annie Ross, Abdullah Ibrahim, Herb Jeffries, Albert Murray, Max Roach, Dempsey Travis, and Gunther Schuller, among others.
"Duke Ellington: A Centennial Birthday Celebration" is part of NPR's ongoing, weekly radio series Jazz Profiles, a program about jazz music and its diverse personalities. Regular Jazz Profiles topics include tributes to living musicians, the instruments of jazz, significant anniversaries, jazz cities, and jazz families.
Produced by Robert Levi and Tim Owens, "Duke Ellington: A Centennial Birthday Celebration" is a production of NPR, Smithsonian Productions, and America's Jazz Heritage in partnership with the Lila Wallace Reader's Digest Fund.
National Public Radio,® a membership organization of 607 public radio stations across America, is radio's leading provider of high-quality news, information, and cultural programming worldwide. In addition to Jazz Profiles®, NPR produces and distributes Billy Taylor's Jazz at the Kennedy Center and distributes Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz®, JazzSet® with Branford Marsalis, and Jazz From Lincoln Center®. NPR also produces and distributes news and entertainment programs such as Morning Edition®, All Things Considered®, NPR's Performance Today®, and CarTalk®.