John Murelle Celebrates Duke Ellington

November 11, 2011

John Murelle to perform at West Falmouth Library

Baritone John Murelle will sing songs of Duke Ellington at the West Falmouth Library on Sunday, November 13, at 3 PM. He will be accompanied by pianist William Merrill, and Mick Carlon, author of the upcoming book “Riding on Duke’s Train,” will give a pre-concert talk on Ellington.

I stopped by the library yesterday during dress rehearsal and took some videos. It promises to be a great concert. Here is the opening number, “I’m Beginning to See the Light.”

John told me a little about pianist, composer, and big band leader Duke Ellington (1899-1974), who was a major figure in the development of jazz:

He was middle class—his father worked in the White House as a servant. He was completely uneducated as a musician; he did not go to music school. He started a band called the Washingtonians, and then moved to New York. His first big break was playing for the Cotton Club in Harlem. That’s where he really learned his craft.

What really put him on the map was that his programs were broadcast on the radio, so people heard the Duke Ellington Show at the Cotton Club on the air.

He wrote over 2,000 compositions, mostly for his orchestra, and when he decided the melody had real popularity, he set lyrics to it. He wrote lyrics himself or with Billy Strayhorn or with his publisher.

This program is a recital format showing the audience the greatness of Duke Ellington, who many believe as one of American’s greatest composers.

Here is a pairing of “Take Love Easy,” written for his Broadway show, and “Mood Indigo.”

Duke Ellington at the piano.

Tickets are $15 and may be purchased at the library in advance or at the door. The library is at 575 West Falmouth Highway (Route 28A).

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