duke ellington DUKE ELLINGTON

The music of Duke Ellington is held by many to rank in importance alongside that of musical innovators of the stature of J.S.Bach or Arnold Schoenberg, and he is widely considered to be America's greatest ever composer. So to include him in a list of humble songwriters may seem to be a bit of an insult. But there is no doubt in my mind that the Duke created or was party to the creation of some of the most original and evocative 'melodic works' written during the 20th century.
What made Ellington so unique was his ability to balance melody, harmony and orchestral arrangement so perfectly that they became totally inseparable, while still retaining the music's emotional power.
He collaborated with great lyricists like Johnny Mercer, Paul Francis Webster and some-time manager Irving Mills, as well as band members such as Bubber Miley, Barney Bigard, Johnny Hodges and most notably Billy Strayhorn to produce masterpiece after masterpiece.
Genius is a word that should be used sparingly, but The Duke had it with some to spare.