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From the Archives: Catching Up with Mercer Ellington.

Band leader and composer Mercer Ellington. The son of Duke Ellington, he perpetuates the big band tradition his father made famous as head of the Duke Ellington Band. When he was a young man, Mercer Ellington had hoped to break into his father's band on the saxophone. But after years of frustration, he could see that he would never crack the legendary Ellington reed section. He finally was accepted as a trombone player and later played french horn and trumpet. With the death of his father in 1974, Mercer Ellington took over his father's orchestra. (UPDATE: Ellington's band is preparing to go into the studio to record his father's opera, Queenie Pie, for Motown Records. And the band will attend this summer's major jazz festivals, including the North Sea Jazz Festival and the Monterey Jazz Festival. Vocalist Natalie Cole will appear with the band for limited engagements this summer.) (INTERVIEW RECORDED IN 5/3/89)


Other segments from the episode on June 3, 1994

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, June 3, 1994: Interview with Mercer Ellington; Interview with Woody Herman; Interview with Artie Shaw; Review of the film "Widow's Peak."


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