Duke Ellington: Warming to the Cotton Club
Episode date - April 2, 2021
In many ways, Duke Ellington was the perfect foil for the Cotton Club.
The club’s inherent social contradictions meant that you needed to turn a blind eye to the blatant racism of playing for an almost exclusively all white clientele, while Black entertainers operated in a faux-jungle atmosphere. The obvious intimations were insulting, but Ellington’s youth inured him from feeling that way. Growing up in Washington DC left him with a sense of equality that saw no color barrier, and so he dealt with things, making subtle adjustments along the way to ensure the betterment of the situation.
For this show, we review his youth in Washington DC (in his own words) and then discuss his early years performing at Harlem’s Cotton Club.
Featured tracks include:
Three Little Words
Ring Dem Bells
Saturday Night Function
Rent Party Blues
A Night at the Cotton Club Parts 1 and 2
Cotton Club Stomp
Snake Hip Dance
Double Check Stomp