The basement club was cramped, and the bandstand was so small that, by the drummer’s measure, it could hardly hold a fight. The clientele included mobsters, musicians, and star performers from the nearby Broadway shows, slipping in among the crowd from the time the band appeared, at about ten o’clock, straight on “until.” The banjoist who provided the schedule could elaborate no further about how long the night went on: “Until you quit. Until period.” After 3 A.M., you couldn’t get a seat. In the fall of 1926, the craze for Negro music was already sending savvy white New Yorkers up to Harlem, but the Kentucky Club, on West Forty-ninth Street, had the hottest band in town. Trumpets, trombone, saxes, clarinet, tuba, banjo, and drums—nine or so players, huddled on the stand beneath the pipes that ran along the ceiling, plus the handsome young piano player who led the group while dancers surged around him on the floor. But the band did more than keep the temperature high and the dancers moving; its arrangements were so startling that even a familiar number like “St. Louis Blues” sounded new. Variety capped a gushing review of the “colored combo” by noting that the club’s patrons—transfixed “jazz boys” and civilians alike—spent a remarkable amount of time just sitting around and listening.
Duke Ellington and his Washingtonians had been performing in New York, under one name or another, for about three years, but their range and ambition were just beginning to show. As new arrivals, they had practiced the sweet, straight, “under conversation” music that had been in demand at the Washington society dances where the original group members started out, but they had quickly discovered that this sound was all wrong for New York. Not brazen enough, not rhythmically driving; not Negro enough; not jazz. In truth, a New York style of jazz hardly existed. In the mid-twenties, the city offered, instead, a heady variety of musical models, including its own native Harlem stride pianists (who welcomed Ellington as one of their own); the blues musicians who were part of the ongoing mass migration from the South; Fletcher Henderson’s big, polished sound; and the great horn players of New Orleans, who blazed through town now and again like comets. And then there were the resident players who had absorbed the New Orleanians’ famed techniques: the trumpeter Bubber Miley joined the Washingtonians before their first uncertain year was out and, with his waa-waa outbursts and uncannily human shrieks and cries, quickly blew their decorum away. Ellington was inspired by Miley’s wild expressiveness, even if he couldn’t yet meet it or let go the promise of all the other sounds he heard.
The number that caught Irving Mills’s attention at the Kentucky Club one night, as he recalled, was “Black and Tan Fantasy,” a three-minute musical drama jointly credited to Ellington and Miley. It isn’t difficult to figure out which of the authors did what, as a throbbingly mournful blues gives way to a refined society tune—rough and smooth, black and tan, Miley and Ellington—or as Miley’s solos rise to a hectoring beauty that finds ease and release in the band’s response. The trumpeter’s manipulation of a simple rubber plunger cup over the bell of his horn makes for some irresistibly antic sounds (the trombonist, not to be outdone, gives a good impression of a whinnying horse), but the piece delivers an unexpected emotional punch: a concluding riff from Chopin’s “Funeral March” is willfully absurd yet seems to seal the trumpet’s urgent message. (“I like great big ole tears,” Ellington said, teasingly, about audience reactions.) The over-all effect is at once mocking and chilling, like a funeral cortège with skeletons dancing behind.
Whether or not Irving Mills shed a tear, he recognized both the artistic merit and the financial potential of such original work. A song publisher with a special interest in blues, Mills immediately decided to go into band management, with Duke Ellington and His Kentucky Club Orchestra (their latest, somewhat grandiloquent billing) as his initial client. Mills insisted that Ellington concentrate on recording his own compositions, and that fall the energized players made their first important disks. One year later, they opened at the Cotton Club.
More than half a century after the Civil War, the most famous night club in New York was a mock plantation. The bandstand was done up as a white-columned mansion, the backdrop painted with cotton bushes and slave quarters. And the racial fantasy extended well beyond décor: whites who came to Harlem to be entertained were not to be discomfited by the presence of non-entertaining Negroes. All the performers were black—or, in the case of the chorus girls, café au lait—and all the patrons white, if not by force of law then by force of the thugs at the door. Ellington had to ask permission for friends to see his show. Ironically, it was the Cotton Club that allowed Ellington to expand his talents, by employing him to arrange and compose for a variety of dancers, singers, miscellaneous acts, entr’actes, and theatrical revues. His most extraordinary talent, however, may have been for making the best of tainted opportunities. For the big revues, with their plots about black savages and threatened maidens, he devised music of sophistication and cheekily exotic allure, under such titles as “Jungle Blues,” “Jungle Night in Harlem,” and—sinister little masterpiece—“The Mooche.” But even before the band sounded a note it delivered a statement: impeccably dressed in matching tuxedos and boutonnières, its members were of a class with the biggest swells in the room. And Ellington was the swellest of all: unfailingly soigné, magisterially presiding over the urban jungle, he stood untouched and never lost his smile.
What was he thinking? What did he feel about—what did he contribute to—the mire of American race relations during the last century? Harvey G. Cohen’s “Duke Ellington’s America” (Chicago; $40) attempts to get under the skin of this apparently most imperturbable of men, and the results, if hardly conclusive, are fascinating. One of Ellington’s few confidantes, his sister, Ruth, believed that he concealed himself under “veil upon veil upon veil,” and Cohen is not the first Ellingtonian to treasure the smallest telltale sign of his subject’s human susceptibilities. There is, for example, an uncharacteristically angry letter to a white business associate with whom Ellington wished to break (which is nevertheless signed “with great respect,” and turns out not to have been sent). Cohen’s extremely intelligent and formidably documented book—a welcome change from much that has been published about Ellington—is not a standard biography; Ellington’s personal life and sexual mores are officially beyond its scope. Nor is it a critical work, since it contains no musical analysis and not a great deal of musical description. Cohen’s long hours in the Smithsonian’s huge trove of Ellington papers were devoted to the business records and the scrapbooks, and, as his title suggests, he has broad social issues on his mind. Even Ellington’s professional life is examined in circumscribed areas, almost all of which touch at some point upon race. The question is whether, sooner or later, everything did.
Early in the book, Cohen quotes Ellington’s longtime collaborator Billy Strayhorn objecting to a movie project about Ellington that Strayhorn was told would have a racial theme. “I don’t think it should be racial because I don’t think he’s racial,” Strayhorn protested. “He is an individual.” But Strayhorn concluded, in a line of thinking that seems emblematic of the era and of the personalities involved, “You don’t have to say the darn thing.” Cohen keeps Ellington’s individuality firmly in sight, while detailing such targeted subjects as his relationship with Mills, the white man who has been lauded for launching Ellington’s career and—both before and after they split, in 1939—accused of exploitation; Ellington’s travels with his band in the harshly segregated South of the nineteen-thirties and forties; the overt, if often forgotten, racial programs of much of his music; and his sometimes contentious relationship with the civil-rights movement of the nineteen-fifties and sixties.
A different set of subjects—Ellington’s musical development, his band members, even his women—might have yielded something closer to the post-racial portrait for which Strayhorn argued, a portrait more in accord with the high personal horizon on which Ellington’s sights were set. But “the darn thing” will not go away, and race remains unsurprisingly essential to the story of America’s first widely recognized black artist, and of what he had to say.
An unshakable dignity seems to have been instilled in Ellington from childhood, and Cohen examines the aspiringly genteel society in which the much beloved boy grew up. Ellington’s father, who worked for years as a butler in a prominent white home, saw that his family’s dinner table was always formally set, no matter the lack of funds at any given time. His pious mother virtually worshipped her son—who was her only child until he was sixteen, when his sister finally came along. And Ellington worshipped his mother in return; he fondly remembered her playing parlor tunes and hymns on the piano—he said the music made him cry—and he attributed his lifelong confidence to her frequent assurances that he was blessed, which he had always believed.
And why not? Edward Kennedy Ellington was born in 1899, in Washington, D.C., at a time when the nation’s capital was arguably the best place for an African-American child to live. The largest urban Negro community in the country maintained its own opera company, classical-music groups, and literary societies; its segregated schools taught African history, stressed proper manners and speech, and were intent on producing students who were, in Ellington’s phrase, “representative of a great and proud race.” For many years, from Emancipation through the imposition of onerous racial restrictions by the Wilson Administration, climaxing in a brutal, white-sparked riot following the First World War, the upper stratum of the city’s black population held to a proto-Harlem Renaissance ideal: demonstrate how civilized, intelligent, and accomplished we are, and racism will fade away. One need not demand respect if one commands it.
Ellington acquired the nickname “Duke” on the brink of adolescence, and, whatever its source (accounts differ), it indicates the superior impression that the boy already made—not an insignificant trait in an era when outstanding black musicians were known professionally as Bubber, Sonny, and Cootie. If he was intended for leadership, however, it clearly wasn’t going to proceed from his scholastic efforts. Although his schooling may have afforded him an inner strength, Ellington was a careless student, even in music (where his only grade on record is a D). But then he didn’t respond to formal training of any kind. Early piano lessons failed to hold his interest, and he learned to play mostly on his own, mastering James P. Johnson’s notoriously difficult “Carolina Shout”—well enough to impress Johnson—by slowing down the piano roll and matching his fingers to the depressed keys. When he wanted to go further, he charmed his way into pickup lessons from the professionals who hung out in the local poolroom. He was careful to point out, later on, that these early masters included both conservatory-trained musicians and unschooled “ear cats” who couldn’t read a note, and that he had freely learned from both.
Charm, drive, and an audacious talent: he was barely out of his teens before he had established the Duke’s Serenaders and several other nicely profitable dance bands, and was supporting himself—and a wife and baby—in style. Yet, by his own account, even when he felt sure enough to try his fortunes in New York, age twenty-four, he had never actually written music. He had composed a few songs in his early years, and began composing again as soon as he hit Tin Pan Alley, but he had never written anything down and wasn’t entirely certain that he could. Ellington was himself something of an “ear cat,” and even as he learned what he needed to know, and his music became increasingly complex, his instinctual bias was for the more instinctual art. Partly, this was the natural democrat’s appreciation of the tough and unschooled African-American “gutbucket” sound; partly it was the natural aristocrat’s desire to make everything look easy. (“How was I to know that composers had to go up in the mountains, or to the seashore, to commune with the muses for six months?”) Other popular composers have faced similar gaps between their early training and their goals; George Gershwin’s solution was to make himself a lifelong student, working with a series of teachers on harmony, counterpoint, orchestration. Ellington didn’t have the temperament for this approach, nor did it appear to offer what he needed. He had something all his own, something that made the arduous process of writing music yield immediate and exhilarating results: he had his band.
The scrappy band of the early Kentucky Club days became an orchestra of a dozen players at the Cotton Club. But Ellington wanted an even larger sound: more color, more detail, more possibilities. By the time of the first European tour, in 1933, there were fourteen players, plus a vocalist; the group that was ultimately known as Duke Ellington and His Famous Orchestra had grown, by the mid-forties, to nineteen players, travelling and recording together, working and virtually living together, fifty-two weeks a year. These musicians were Ellington’s inspiration, not merely as professionals but as individuals with irreplaceable musical personalities. He did not write a “Concerto for Trumpet,” in 1939; rather, it was a “Concerto for Cootie”—that is, a work designed for the specific articulations of the superb trumpet player Cootie Williams, who replaced Bubber Miley and had already been with Ellington for about ten years. (“You can’t write music right,” Ellington told this magazine, more than sixty years ago, “unless you know how the man that’ll play it plays poker.”)
But these musicians were sometimes his collaborators in a more unusual way, described by reporters who sat in, marvelling, on working sessions. Ellington would start off with a melody, or even just a few bars that were quickly tweaked and critiqued into a theme. Then, one by one, the improvisations began—Barney Bigard on clarinet, Johnny Hodges on alto saxophone, Tricky Sam Nanton on trombone were all especially fluent—with each player improving on the last player’s phrases, elaborating and extending, while the trombonist /copyist Juan Tizol caught the accumulating effects on paper (albeit not quite as fast as they kept coming). Ellington approved or rejected the additions, made changes and issued challenges, then usually took the results home and worked the whole thing over. The next day, there would be a few hours of refinement and repetition, until the piece was fixed and memorized. (Ellington always preferred memorization: how could you let loose if your nose was stuck in a score?) By this method, the time for creating or arranging a new number—most numbers were about three minutes long, the standard length of a 78-r.p.m. recording—appears to have been just two days. “My band is my instrument,” Ellington said, and the way he played it explains his music’s extraordinary mixture of freedom and control.
This collaborative process could create difficulties when Ellington employed a melody that he had overheard one of the musicians playing, or that a musician had sold him for a regulation fee. The main tune of “Concerto for Cootie,” for example, was something that Ellington bought from Williams for twenty-five dollars, a sum believed to be reasonable by both parties until, a few years later, words were added and it became a hit as “Do Nothing Till You Hear from Me”—with no royalties for Williams. Johnny Hodges, the band’s most gorgeously lyrical player and a fount of melody—he contributed the tunes for “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” and “I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart”—became so annoyed that, during performances, he mimed rubbing dollar bills between his fingers when Ellington launched into a number that Hodges felt was rightly his. One of Ellington’s most beloved songs, “Sophisticated Lady,” has several contributing claims and was described by the trombonist Lawrence Brown as “one of those where everybody jumps in.”
But, as Billy Strayhorn pointed out, the various contested melodies were musical scraps that would not have amounted to anything had Ellington not labored to smooth out rough parts, create harmonies, add bridges, and set them in a coherent musical frame. None of Ellington’s musicians—not even Strayhorn—ever composed a hit on his own. Most important, all these works turned out to sound purely and recognizably like Ellington. For those who doubted that he was a “real” composer, here was the conundrum: How could the band have created Ellington, when Ellington created the band?
Despite the air of insouciance, Ellington took his composing seriously. It was gratifying to have people sit and listen to his music in a proper theatre, as they did for the first time in 1930, when the band accompanied Maurice Chevalier during a Broadway run and filled out the bill for an entire act. Coast-to-coast radio broadcasts from the Cotton Club had won the band an enormous following, and it gave concert-style performances throughout its first national tour, in 1931, usually performing in movie theatres between shows. Recordings had similarly prepared the way in England and France, where, in 1933, the band appeared on variety bills in the biggest venues, and was met with a respect that, for all its popularity, it had never known at home. Members of the group were suddenly being discussed not merely as entertainers but as artists, and it seemed that every note they played was considered to be—in the words of one British critic—“directly an expression of Duke’s genius.”
Artist. Genius. Claims of this sort had been made before the European tour, but during the mid-thirties they began to take hold. Cohen documents Irving Mills’s long-term publicity campaign to build his client just such a gold-plated image, unprecedented for an African-American. It does not impugn Mills’s belief in Ellington’s artistry to note that his goal was to share this belief with the increasingly large, white, record-buying public. Most of the campaign revolved around Ellington’s gifts as a composer (“Again!” ran the ad for a new song, “Solitude,” in 1935. “The stamp of Ellington’s genius!”), and Ellington fed the fire with the release of several longer compositions. “Creole Rhapsody” (1931), “Reminiscing in Tempo” (1935), and the conjoined “Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue” (1937) all took up two or more sides of 78-r.p.m. recordings—until then a length generally granted only to works of classical music, and a sign that Ellington was extending the notion of musical seriousness beyond its conventional bounds. He told reporters that he was working on a symphonic suite and an opera, both based on the history of the American Negro people. It was just a matter of time before he got to Carnegie Hall.
“What we could not say openly, we expressed in music,” Ellington wrote in the British magazine Rhythm, in 1931, trying to explain the Negro musical tradition that had grown up in America, music “forged from the very white heat of our sorrows.” All his life, Ellington gave the impression of having been unscathed by racism, either in his early years—color, he said, was never even mentioned in his parents’ home—or during the long professional decades when it defined almost every move he made: where he could play his music, who could come to listen to it, whether he could stay in a hotel or attend another musician’s show, and where (or whether) he could find something to eat when the show was over. The orchestra made its first Southern tour just after its return from England, in 1933, travelling (thanks to Mills) in supremely insulated style: two private Pullman cars for sleeping and dining, and a separate baggage car for the elaborate wardrobe, scenery, and lights required to present a show more dazzling than any that most of the sleepy little towns where they made their stops had ever seen. Ellington made a special effort to perform for black audiences, even when it meant that the band added a midnight show in a place where it had performed earlier that night exclusively for whites. Reports from both racial groups were that the players outdid themselves; it is difficult to know where they felt they had more to prove.
Segregation was hardly peculiar to the South, of course, any more than it was limited, in New York, to the Cotton Club and its ilk. The down-and-dirty Kentucky Club had been no different: even without thugs at the door, there was an unspoken citywide dictate about where the different races belonged. The only exceptions were the “Black and Tans,” the few Harlem clubs that permitted casual racial mixing, and to which Ellington seems to have been paying tongue-in-cheek tribute with the not-quite-meshing themes of “Black and Tan Fantasy.” This was the first number played, after “The Star-Spangled Banner,” at Ellington’s landmark Carnegie Hall concert, in January, 1943, although the piece sounded very different from his twenties hit: taken at a slower tempo, with extended solos, it was twice its original length—so deliberative it seemed a kind of statement—and showed off the burnished power of Ellington’s forties band.
But much of the program that night made a statement. There were no pop vocals; Ellington presented a trio of new musical portraits of the historic black performers Bert Williams, Bill (Bojangles) Robinson, and Florence Mills; even the brassy instrumental “Ko-Ko,” of 1940, was, Ellington told the audience, meant to portray the square in New Orleans where slaves had once come together to dance—the place where jazz was born. Everything was designed to set off “Black, Brown and Beige,” a three-movement composition, some forty-five minutes long, that had been advertised as “Duke Ellington’s first symphony” and that Ellington described as “a parallel to the history of the American Negro.” It seems unlikely that any other musical début has carried such hope of repairing divisions: between jazz and classical, between black and white. The audience itself was described in the press as “black, brown, and beige”—hardly the usual Carnegie crowd—and included Eleanor Roosevelt, Leopold Stokowski, Count Basie, and Frank Sinatra, all waiting for the revelation of a truly uniting, truly American music.
“Black, Brown and Beige” had an elaborate scenario, which Ellington only hinted at in his spoken remarks. The first and most richly developed section, “Black,” began with a powerful work song launched on the timpani and moved on to a homemade hymn of celestial longing; Ellington spoke, rather obliquely, of these related aspects of the lives of slaves. (A recording of the concert, complete with Ellington’s remarks, was released in the nineteen-seventies.) “Brown,” far more disjointed, took on Emancipation and the Negro’s loyal service in a series of American wars (a matter of obvious relevance in 1943), before concluding with a darkly discordant, sung blues. “Beige,” which brought the piece up to contemporary Harlem, was the weakest section, perhaps because Ellington was still working on it the night before the concert, but it stirred him to remarks about the “veneer” of progress and a people who still “don’t have enough to eat and a place to sleep.” Even these mildly critical observations were quickly buried, however, with his reassurance that, these days, “we, of course, find the black, brown, and beige right in there for the red, white, and blue.” The patriotism and the exuberance are affecting, and entirely apt for a concert that served as a benefit for Russian war relief and also marked Ellington’s twentieth anniversary in music. What these sentiments do not jibe with, entirely, are the stark and angry words that he meant the music to express.
Comprising twenty-nine handwritten pages, and drawing on several previous drafts, Ellington’s scenario was grounded in extensive reading and research. An opening section about the proud history of African civilizations quotes from the anthropologist Franz Boas, as transmitted by W. E. B. Du Bois—but is only fleetingly suggested in the opening drums of “Black.” A detailed section on the horrors of the Middle Passage includes scenes of mutilation and sounds of screaming that Ellington described as “a symphony of torture.” Neither the scenes nor the sounds became part of the completed work. The scenario for “Brown” honors the leaders of violent slave rebellions—not mentioned again—and the light café-concert music for “Beige” comes nowhere close to addressing Ellington’s lines: “Who brought the dope / And made a rope / of it, to hang you / In your misery . . . / And Harlem . . . / How’d you come to be / Permitted / In a land that’s free?” Cohen speculates that Ellington muted his message because of the probable cost to his “prominent media status” or, alternatively, because he genuinely believed that he would have greater effect through his music than through confrontation. Another reason is suggested in the scenario itself, where Ellington explains that African-American song began when a clever slave decided to placate and yet evade his master: “I’ll sing, and hide my thoughts from him.”
“Black, Brown and Beige” was torn apart by the major critics. It is difficult not to wonder if Ellington’s work was damaged by his holding back so much of what he wanted to say—if his unyielding self-control was not sometimes less than ideal for his art. Or if the problem, as critics charged, was that he had simply not acquired the technique for an extended work. Judged as jazz, the composition was deemed unrecognizable; judged as classical music, it was found “formless and meaningless,” a series of poorly connected parts that did not add up to a whole. Cohen is not the first to retort that “Black, Brown and Beige” should not be judged by preëxisting standards—that its abrupt musical transitions were not a shortcoming but a choice—and that the composer had achieved exactly what he intended. But Ellington was so discouraged by the reviews that, after the Carnegie concert, he performed the full work twice more, and never again. He recorded only some abbreviated and reworked sections. Near the end of his life, he said that the music was less interesting than the script.
He did not stop writing longer pieces, although they now came mostly in the form of suites, with separate sections bound by an inclusive theme, and no pretension to the kind of unity he had so publicly failed to achieve. Almost all these works were written in close collaboration with Billy Strayhorn, whose shimmering semi-classical touch became as much a part of the Ellington sound through the next decades as the growling brass had been during the “jungle” years; it is possible that no one will ever disentangle which of the pair composed exactly what parts of a long series of works, from “The Perfume Suite,” in 1945, to “Far East Suite,” more than twenty years later. Yet the band remained no less a part of Ellington’s creative life; no other group could get the sound he wanted, and few were even equipped to try. More, he needed his players to give color and form to the musical sketches that now poured forth unceasingly: waking or eating, walking or showering, on a crowded train surrounded by rowdy musicians or in a quiet car travelling through the weary night from one small-town job to another.
It was an ungrateful era. The Harlem craze was dead, the Cotton Club was closed, and the war that had been fought for democracy, equality, and freedom—Ellington had been a true believer, selling War Bonds on the radio and opening concerts with “The Star-Spangled Banner”—had done nothing to improve the status of the country’s Negro citizens. In order to stay together, the band had taken to relentless touring. And, with private Pullman cars a luxury of the past, racial indignities had become an inevitable part of present life: Ellington was reported to be especially fearful of venturing into any place where he risked being turned away. Yet even as the smaller combos of the rising bebop movement drove other big bands out of business, and as Duke Ellington and His Famous Orchestra found themselves playing an endless series of one-night stands, Ellington pressed on, not merely a Jazz Age survivor but, it seemed, the last believer in big-band jazz as a living, developing art. The new works—especially the longer ones—didn’t always go over with the record companies (RCA Victor waited years to release “The Perfume Suite”), or with the audience, or even, sometimes, with the players. (“We didn’t like the tone poems much,” Johnny Hodges admitted when he and a couple of other band members took off on their own, in 1951.) Disappointed critics prescribed a choice: the century’s most important jazz composer could narrow his focus, concentrate, and compose—or lead the band and tour until he dropped. Not both.
For Ellington it would have been like choosing his heart over his lungs; the whole system by now worked together or not at all. The choice was apparently personal as well as musical: he loved the life of the road, surrounded by people yet essentially alone. (He and his wife had separated early on. A famed sexual raconteur, he was rumored to have a woman waiting at every stop.) Cohen points out that Ellington could have been a rich man if he had stayed home, collected royalties, and composed. The band had become a very expensive proposition, and was subsidized largely by those royalties from long-ago hits. Even when it had a big resurgence, thanks to an appearance at the Newport Festival, in 1956, the stir was due not to the newly minted “Newport Festival Suite” but to a crazily exciting six-minute improvisation by the saxophonist Paul Gonsalves, played between the paired 1937 pieces “Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue.” Contrary to the long-term concertizing trend in Ellington’s music, the performance got people back on their feet and dancing again, and got Ellington on the cover of Time.
His renewed stature did not prevent controversy in the black community, however, when, in 1959, the N.A.A.C.P. gave Ellington its highest award. Recipients during the previous couple of years had been Martin Luther King, Jr., and the civil-rights activists Daisy Bates and the Little Rock Nine. Now the editorial pages of African-American newspapers doubtfully inquired: What had Ellington done to deserve this honor? It wasn’t just a question of what music had to do with civil rights; Jackie Robinson had won in 1956, with no such questions raised about baseball. Rather, as the Time article had put it, “Duke is not a militant foe of segregation.” It went on to note that “he plays for segregated audiences on his annual swings through the South,” and added that Ellington had explained, with a verbal shrug, “Everybody does.”
What had he done to deserve the honor? The plainly factual answer is that he had raised a lot of money over the years playing benefits for the N.A.A.C.P., and for many other organizations that had asked for his help. But there were deeper answers. Ellington, offended by the accusation that he had been silent on civil rights, replied that those who doubted him had simply failed to use their ears. “They’ve not been listening to our music,” he said. “For a long time, social protest and pride in black culture and history have been the most significant themes in what we’ve done.” In sum: “We have been talking for a long time about what it is to be black in this country.” For Ellington, being black in this country meant approaching difficult issues in strategically different ways. Earlier in the fifties, he had quarrelled with the N.A.A.C.P., in fact, over playing segregated theatres, arguing that his musicians needed to make a living, and that the N.A.A.C.P. ought to focus on more urgent matters (such as “the toilets and water fountains in colored waiting rooms”). At the same time, he had written privately to President Truman, asking if Truman’s daughter, Margaret—a concert singer—might serve as honorary chairwoman for an N.A.A.C.P. benefit, the proceeds of which were to be used “to stamp out segregation, discrimination, bigotry,” and other American ills. The letter was discovered by the music historian John Edward Hasse in the Truman Library, with Ellington’s request marked with the word “No!” underlined twice.
Cohen vigorously defends Ellington against critics and historians, both past and present, who have ignored the “nonverbal communication” that is the real basis of his contribution. The language of music is, of course, allusive; the language of protest, as it was developing in the late fifties, was, of necessity, direct—and therefore depended on words, which helps to explain the presence of white folksingers in the forefront of the movement where black jazz musicians might be expected to stand. But even when Ellington used words, he preferred to remain allusive (and elusive). In the wake of the 1957 school-desegregation battles in Little Rock, Charles Mingus recharged the relation of jazz to politics by composing “Fables of Faubus,” featuring less than flattering lyrics about the Arkansas governor; Ellington recorded a new version of the hymn from “Black, Brown and Beige,” titled “Come Sunday,” in which Mahalia Jackson, pleading with the Lord to “see my people through,” evokes both Heaven and a country redeemed.
His efforts became more direct during the next few years. In 1960, Ellington agreed to accompany some Johns Hopkins students, after a performance, to a Baltimore restaurant that had turned black students away, and to be captured by a local photographer being turned away himself; it was a major act in terms of the cost to his pride. In 1961, his booking contracts began to stipulate that he would not play before segregated audiences. He led a State Department tour, in 1963, designed to counter the news stories about American racism that were proving so useful to the Communist cause, and Cohen believes its political dividends helped to spur the passage of the 1965 Civil Rights Act. Cohen offers many other examples of Ellington as a sometimes surreptitious “race leader,” but it is almost embarrassing that he should have to make the effort. Celebrating Ellington’s seventieth birthday, in 1969, Ralph Ellison recalled what it was like when, in his youth, in the thirties, the Ellington band came to Oklahoma City “with their uniforms, their sophistication, their skills; their golden horns, their flights of controlled and disciplined fantasy,” all of it like “news from the great wide world.” For black boys like Ellison all over the country, the band had been “an example and goal,” he wrote. Who else—black or white—had ever been “so worldly, who so elegant, who so mockingly creative? Who so skilled at their given trade and who treated the social limitations placed in their paths with greater disdain?”
Two years before Ellington died, in 1972, Yale University held a gathering of leading black jazz musicians in order to raise money for a department of African-American music. Aside from Ellington, the musicians who came for three days of concerts, jam sessions, and workshops included Eubie Blake, Noble Sissle, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, Max Roach, Mary Lou Williams, and Willie (the Lion) Smith. During a performance by a Gillespie-led sextet, someone evidently unhappy with this presence on campus called in a bomb threat. The police attempted to clear the building, but Mingus refused to leave, urging the officers to get all the others out but adamantly remaining onstage with his bass. “Racism planted that bomb, but racism ain’t strong enough to kill this music,” he was heard telling the police captain. (And very few people successfully argued with Mingus.) “If I’m going to die, I’m ready. But I’m going out playing ‘Sophisticated Lady.’ ” Once outside, Gillespie and his group set up again. But coming from inside was the sound of Mingus intently playing Ellington’s dreamy thirties hit, which, that day, became a protest song, as the performance just kept going on and on and getting hotter. In the street, Ellington stood in the waiting crowd just beyond the theatre’s open doors, smiling. ♦
...COTTON University of Wolverhampton International Business Management Global Business Commodities Rustam Nabizade (1122924) COTTON University of Wolverhampton International Business Management Global Business Commodities Rustam Nabizade (1122924) Cotton is a major fibre crop of global importance and has high commercial value. It is grown commercially in the temperate and tropical regions of more than 70 countries. Specific areas of production include countries such as China, USA, India, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Australia, Greece, Brazil, Egypt etc. where climatic conditions suit the natural growth requirements of cotton, which includes periods of hot and dry weather and adequate moisture obtained through irrigation. Cotton is harvested as ‘seed cotton’ which is then ‘ginned’ to separate the seed and lint. The long ‘lint’ fibres are further processed by spinning to produce yarn which is knitted or woven into fabrics. Trade theories International Trade * All economies, regardless of their size, depend to some extent on other economies and are affected by events outside their borders. * The “internationalization” or “globalization” of the U.S. economy has occurred in the private and public sectors, in input and output markets, and in business firms and households. The Economic Basis for Trade: Comparative Advantage * Corn Laws were the tariffs, subsidies, and restrictions enacted by the British Parliament......
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...Club IT, Part 3 XBIS/219 April 29, 2012 Joy Fluker Club IT, Part 3 Every business minded person aims towards owning a business while targeting certain type of people if not all kinds of people with the aim to satisfy their clients and at the same time maximize profit. As an entrepreneur, one gets to enjoy certain benefits of particularly choosing the people one works with (Dahl, 2011). Club IT is a downtown music joint that is managed by two Business Administration graduates Lisa Tejada and Ruben Keys. This kind of business has always been their dream as they both have extensive knowledge on how to run a nightclub, as a result of their part-time job held as musicians during their time in school. They both also have passion for music and the knowledge of business acquired from school will only guide them to running a successful business. Noting that for every startup of a business, there is need for investment after which turnovers are achieved. Lisa and Ruben have invested into the Club by remodeling the interior with fancy installations that are quite inviting. For more liveliness, they hired live bands on certain days of the week and also a live DJ who uses digital data such as MP3 playlist to entertain the guest. With all this installation and the profitability achieved as well as the dream they have for Club IT, Lisa and Ruben discovered that other sides of the business will need some improvement such as their information system therefore deciding...
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...cannot reach them and holding them in bondage where we can set them free." Lincoln was fully aware of the irony, but he did not want to antagonize the slave states loyal to the Union by setting their slaves free. The proclamation permitted black soldiers to fight for the Union. The impact that the cotton Gin had is that cotton gins still function with the same vital idea that it had when it was first invented. More services have been included to the original design though. Gins can desiccate the cotton, humidify it, arrange it, clean it and bale it into bundles. The cotton is ready to be sold when all this is done. Because cottons in modern society are used a lot in every country in the world, cotton gins have become important to the world. Cotton gin made cotton so beneficial that majority of the economic production of the South became reliant upon it. Meaning that they were also dependent upon the institution of slavery, plantation owners required slaves to choose the cotton from their massive fields, so they needed to protect the foundation of slavery to defend their economic system. Also, they became more aggressive to Northern attempts to standardize slavery. This dependence on cotton manufacture also had some other effects on the South. It exhausted nutrients from the soil, making bulky sections of the South less fertile over time. The Emancipation Proclamation had a profound effect on the mind of the southerner. Citizens combating the war to defend the right of......
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...Current Club IT Club IT was founded by two college graduates, Ruben and Lisa, who had played live music in several clubs throughout their college years. Armed with their Business Administration degrees and their own experiences playing in nightclubs, Ruben and Lisa decided to open up their own nightclub. That is how Club IT was born. They wanted to offer the best music, a great atmosphere, and an enjoyable experience to all of their customers. According to "About Club IT"(n.d.), "We, Ruben and Lisa, offer you live music, DJ's, dance space and refreshments that suit your lifestyle. You are our friends, and we seek to build a community that meets regularly at Club IT."(para. 4). Club IT offers a user-friendly website that can be browsed by current and potential customers. It offers a variety of information about the establishment. Included information is: About Club IT, Club IT Music, Dining & Menus, Merchandise, Club IT Staff, Club Layout, and an Employee Portal. This information allows customers to know what type of music is being played on what dates, what food and drinks are available, buy Club IT branded merchandise, know who is serving them, and what the floor plan is of Club IT. The Employee Portal offers a variety of information that is accessible to employees using their own personal user name and password. Under the Employee Portal, employees can see all of their own personal information, wage, bonus, vacation time, and sick time information, and also download......
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...Club IT, Part Two Jomoto Brown BIS/219 April 25, 2011 Tarik Iles Club IT, Part Two The best way to minimize cost and maximize profit is to revolutionize the infrastructure of Club IT. The best way to get this done is to let the information technology department as well as the owners incorporate better planning and new management systems. One of the issues bought to the attention of the author was the selling of advance tickets by having the customer call in or coming to the club to purchase the tickets. Some of the information that was gathered from Ruben was that he wants to have a website setup so that his customers can purchase tickets online. This is a good idea as well as one that can be expanded. The information technology department can begin working immediately on the club’s extranet, which will be a website that a customer or potential customer can visit and check out who is performing on Friday and Saturday night events. This should be handled very seriously because the club owners want their customers to have a safe and secure transaction over their extranet and electronic data interchange. The way this will be set up is the customer will go to the website, create a personal account, and he or she can purchase his or her tickets online and be able to print the tickets at home. In addition, with this service the club will receive the customer’s e-mail address for this can be the customer’s login information, and the club can send the......
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Globalization of Cotton
...Since times of slavery in the United States cotton has meant big business to entrepreneurs in America. Whether it be used in clothes, home furnishings and even in the American dollar, cotton is a major product in many everyday things that we use. No one knows exactly how old cotton is. Although scientists have recovered bits of cotton believed to be dated back over 7,000 years ago! Cotton was first spun by machinery in England in 1730. The industrial revolution in England and the invention on the cotton gin in the U.S. paved the way for the important place cotton holds in the world today. Because of Eli Whitney’s cotton gin, within ten years the value of the U.S. cotton crop rose from $150,000 to more than $8 million. Cotton grows in warm climate and most of the world’s cotton is grown in the U.S., Uzbekistan, the People’s Republic of China and India. In America, the major cotton-producing states are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas, Florida, Kansas, and Virginia. So needless to say America is definitely a major contributor to the cotton used in our everyday lives. Location is important, but the point of this essay isn’t to tell you all about the facts of cotton. Although cotton has brought in a lot of revenue for all countries involved, what is the cost paid by the citizens and workers? In September thousands of children in......
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The Cotton Club
...During the Harlem Renaissance The Cotton Club was one of the most famous nightclubs in history. The cotton club was located in New York City in Harlem. The club operated from the 1920's to the 1930's. The Cotton Club was mostly about jazz. Jazz is the art of individuals working in unison to make one sublime sound. This establishment was for whites only, all though it featured some of the best black entertainers and jazz musicians this era had to offer. In 1920, heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson opened the Cotton Club under the name “Club Deluxe” on the corner of 142nd Street and Lenox Avenue in the heart of the Harlem district. Owney Madden, a prominent bootlegger and gangster, took over the club in 1923 while imprisoned in Sing Sing and changed its name to the Cotton Club. A deal was arranged between the two that allowed Johnson to still be the club’s manager. Madden used the cotton club as an outlet to sell his number one beer to the prohibition crowd. The Cotton Club was a “Whites-only” foundation. Even in the heart of Harlem, the race line divided the black performers from the white patrons. Inside the Cotton Club, African themes were exploited and only "jungle music" was played to an all white audience. Duke Ellington put together one of the most talented jazz bands ever to walk on stage to play for the patrons of The Cotton Club six nights a week. As the twenties went on, Ellington would continue his huge success at The Cotton Club into many classic......
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...Running Head: Club IT Part I Club IT Part I As the newest intern for Club IT, I have taken a look at the most recent issue’s that both Ruben and Lisa are having as owners of this new club. Being a new club, it is very important that there are strategies in place to stay competitive with the competing night clubs in the area. I very much do think that Ruben and Lisa can be competitive running Club IT. Having the knowledge of the services offered including hours of operation, entertainment venue, along with the pricing charged for these amenities is a giant advantage to build around. Keeping up with this information along will keep you in the loop and operationally effective. This will also make it easier to plan your business hours, nightly specials, and events around the busier nights a competing club may have causing you to have less the crowd, meaning less the profits. With Club IT being new, I think that the new remodeling works very well with the modern club style. The high ceilings and high energy lighting that was mentioned gives a look that as noted will bring a very high level of energy to the club making it a fun place to be at and go to. Keeping a strong innovation to Club IT with be on a consistant watch due to changes made all the time in the night club industry. Conclusion Club IT has all the tools needed to stay innovative and successful. The......
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The Cotton Field
...The Cotton Field Tamia Denise 8B This composition will be about the daily life of a slave. From the time they wake up to the time they go to the field. The piece should last about two to three minutes long. The beats that are going to be included are clapping, stomping and humming and the beats on the cabin. The repetition will be in the beats listed above. Other viewpoints include duration and kinesthetic response. The actions will be the stomping in a single filed line and bending to reach down and get the cotton to then place it into their sacks. There will be no dialogue. This composition will require 24 people. Everything should be pretty much in unison and the mood is a sad one. Before the sun rises, all the overseers on the plantation go to each of the four cabins (there are five people in each) and in unison bang on the side of the cabin. The slaves then all get in a single file line, reach down with their left hand to put their sack onto their right side, and in unison step forward twice and then turn to the left. The line leader will then start with his left foot to begin their march. When he stomps everyone in the line follows to stomp with his or her right foot. Everyone will continue to do this in a straight line until they reach the cotton fields. From this line five people will march into each row. Before this happens, the line leader from the beginning will start a hum, and everyone else will repeat him. They continue this hum and begin to step and......
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...Club IT Part One XBIS 219 A night-club seems like a fun place to go and an exciting business to run; however, it faces business pressures as any other type of business would. Preparing organizational responses to these pressures, IT can help meet the pressures to help Club IT become more competitive. “High ceilings and energy lighting provide a fun and energy environment. Club IT’s music focuses mainly hip-hop, techno, electronica, MP3, and live” (University of Phoenix, 2009). Club IT should use information technology to survive and succeed in today’s market as many other organization do. One of the reasons companies are successful today, is because they use specific strategies and business models to help them with their transformation to meet the company’s needs. Through this innovative approach, “organizations can leverage their platforms to develop new Web-based applications, products, and services, as well as to provide superb customer service” (Rainer & Turban, 2008). Club IT nightclub has the following mission statement: "We, Ruben and Lisa, offer you live music, DJ's, dance space and refreshments that suit your lifestyle. You are our friends, and we seek to build a community that meets regularly at Club IT" (Rainer & Turban, 2008).Club IT’s clientele consist of young local professionals, adult students, vacationers as well as commerce travelers. Club IT’s surrounding entertainment structures close by brings many people of various ages,...
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History of Cotton
...9:30am Over the past hundreds of years cotton has evolved greatly. It has also been a huge part of history. It played a major part in our civil war, slavery, and England taking over India. The Modern Marvels: A History of Cotton video is jam packed with interesting facts and a vivid timeline of how cotton has evolved through the ages. It is more than you would ever truly want to know about cotton. Beginning with where cotton comes from, how it is picked, spun into yarn, woven into fabric, unexpected items that contain cotton or byproducts, why it is such an amazing fiber, etc, etc. The program, though only an hour long, is overly informative yet still interesting. I feel it gave me insight into the world of cotton and I learned a lot about the history. A lot of the interesting facts were previously covered in class and were reiterated in the video. I feel the video was educational, yet interesting which is a hard combination to create. The program begins with an in depth description of the cotton picker. The cotton picker can harvest six rows of cotton at a time and about 80 acres a day. There are 480 spindles attached to rotating drums to pick off ripe bolls while the rest of the plant remains in tact. The video then goes into a detailed description of how the cotton is processed through the cotton picker. Cotton is then compressed into modules and taken to the cotton gin. Although this is obviously an important part of how cotton becomes a consumer product, it......
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...People Behind Picking Cotton University of Kentucky Abstract Within the novel, Picking Cotton, the issue of misconceptions and false eye witness accounts comes into play. On a warm June night in 1984, Jennifer Thompson woke up to find a man in her room and was then forcefully raped by him. Throughout the incident, Jennifer continued to analyze the man raping her in hopes of guaranteeing he was brought to justice. She looked at his facial features and clothing and body type. When it came time to chose someone out of the lineup, she was 100% sure that she had chosen the correct perpetrator- Ronald Cotton. After Ronald is convicted and sent to jail, Jennifer begins to rebuild her life while Ronald’s life begins to fall apart. The story then switches to the point of view of Ronald, who explains his side of the story and emphasizes his innocence. It was not until DNA testing came around that Ronald was able to truly prove his innocence. The overlaying theme of this story is that Jennifer’s eyewitness account was so strong that a jury believed, without a doubt, that Ronald Cotton was the man responsible for the rape of Jennifer Thompson. This certainty was quickly dispelled by DNA testing and brings about the problem of misconceptions. Jennifer thoroughly believed that Ronald was her rapist and this proves how easily it is for people to misidentify features of different races. It also helps to disprove eye witness accounts (Thompson-Cannino & Cotton, 2009,......
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Cotton and Slavery
...The Impact of Cotton on Society Mariah S. Carroll Yazoo City High School / Botany Abstract The influence on cotton affected many people everyday lives. Due to where cotton was a everyday need from clothes to foot wear and essentials. Slaves lives were really the lives that were been affected the most. The production of Eli Whitney’s cotton gin made the cotton business very profitable which increased the amount of slavery and ultimately caused a civil war. This paper will telling you about the History of cotton, how cotton and slavery affected the society, the impact cotton has the society today, how Africans Americans live styles were, and the hardships of picking cotton from slaves. This paper will be hitting some the important points of the growth and usage of cotton. The Impact of Cotton on Society Scientists in Mexico found pieces of fabric made from cotton that was almost 7,000 years old. In the Indus River Valley in Pakistan, cotton was being grown. By the 1450s, cotton was known throughout the world for all sorts of things. Cotton was important part in the American war, and was a major resource inn that particular time. A man in Massachusetts, Eli Whitney, secured a patent on the cotton gin in1793. By the 1850’s cotton was easily available at the corner store and sold by hundreds of different suppliers. As you would take out the time just to do it by hand you’re going to be going a long time due to the fact you only have two hands and you have to make...
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...The class visited the cotton gin in Missouri. At the gin the class learned about the particular processes that take place at the gin. The overall main process that takes place at the gin is the separating of the cotton seed from the lint. The class saw the process from separation to packaging at the end of the line. To start the process the cotton is delivered to the gin by a type of gin truck called a module truck that picks up the bales of cotton from the fields. (Modern cotton pickers bale cotton as if it were hay; each bale is called a module.) The module trucks back the cotton up to an escalator type machine, also known as a roller that moves the modules to be unwrapped from its module and then broken down from its bale shape. (The plastic module wrapping is recycled by the gin) The next step is getting the cotton to about 7% moisture. The dryer the cotton the easier it is to work with and to store. Most cotton gins use gas fired dryers. The cotton is also cleaned and some material is extracted. Burs, stems, and sticks are removed from the cotton. The next step can be considered the most important step in the process. The cotton is separated from the cotton seed. This is done by a “gin stand”. The cotton enters a roll box where the lint is removed from the seed. The seeds fall to the bottom of the gin stand while the cotton fibers are brushed off the saws that separated them to begin with. The lint cotton goes through another cleaner where it is brushed again to......
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...Running head: CLUB IT University of Phoenix Club IT There are many clubs throughout America, especially, in San Diego, California. Although clubs come and go, there are only a few that are successful and are able to keep clienteles returning. One may ask? How did these clubs become successful? What were the things that these clubs did that is different? In order to understand how these clubs become successful, one must understand the importance of their mission statement, their clienteles, their resources, and be able to implement a strategic plan that will work--like the cost leadership strategy. As an intern for Club IT, the most important thing to remember is the owners’ mission statement. The mission statement is always a statement that is clear, consist, and straight to the point. The mission statement for Club IT is as follow: "We, Ruben and Lisa, offer you live music, DJ's, dance space and refreshments that suit your lifestyle. You are our friends, and we seek to build a community that meets regularly at Club IT" (Keys & Tejada, 2000). Here at Club IT, our main clientele are those amongst the community. We strive to connect with the community in an effort to understand their needs or want. There are numerous ways to connect to the community. In order to obtain the information on what people want or need, our main strategy is through word of mouth, flyers, or by ways of surveys. Word of mouth, flyers, or surveys is a great way to reach out to...
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