Edward “Duke” Ellington (1899-1974)

Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington is one of the greatest jazz composers, performers, and bandleaders in American history.  His compositions, and the travels of his band, exposed the world to jazz and earned him the nickname, “The Ambassador of Jazz.” Edward Kennedy Ellington was born in … Read MoreEdward “Duke” Ellington (1899-1974)

Willis Lester Young (“Pres”) (1909-1959)

Lester (Willis) Young, known as “Pres,” was born in Woodville, Mississippi and died in New York City. Named Willis Lester at birth, he dropped “Willis” at an early age. Young developed a light tone and swinging style as a member of “territory bands,” such as … Read MoreWillis Lester Young (“Pres”) (1909-1959)

Oklahoma City Blue Devils (1923-1933)

The Oklahoma City Blue Devils were a territorial band with a legendary reputation among musicians in the Southwest. Starting in 1923 accompanying Billy King’s road show, “Moonshine,” at the Aldridge Theatre in Oklahoma City, they also performed for white and African American audiences from Texas … Read MoreOklahoma City Blue Devils (1923-1933)

Robert “Bumps” Blackwell (1918-1985)

Robert “Bumps” Blackwell was a musician, producer, and composer who worked with the top names in early jazz and rock and roll.  Blackwell was born in Seattle, Washington on May 23, 1918.  By the late 1940s his Seattle-based “Bumps Blackwell Junior Band” featured Ray Charles … Read MoreRobert “Bumps” Blackwell (1918-1985)