Diggin' Duke

Tuesdays, 9 PM - 11 PM (Ten-Part Series)

Duke Ellington, 1940s
Credit Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington (1899-1974) wrote and performed music that still gives joy to millions of people and influences musical composition to this day. In his fifty year career, he played over 20,000 performances all over the globe and defined a sound that some call the most truly American music ever, including the popular tune “It Don’t Mean a Thing if It Ain’t Got That Swing.” 

To honor Ellington and his fascinating career, Dr. Todd Hill and Mark Welch present a ten-part series, Diggin’ Duke, Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on WKMS-FM beginning January 27. Hill and Welch worked as a team to “dream up the series.” Dr. Hill hosts the show; he’s the Director of Jazz Studies with the Department of Music at Murray State University and a host of WKMS’s Café Jazz. Welch is currently Director of Community Relations and Alumni Affairs at MSU and he served as producer.

Following Episode One on January 27 at 10 p.m. you’ll hear a special “bonus” hour of Duke content that the producers couldn't fit into the initial airing of this series in 2010. Each subsequent Tuesday of the run of the series the next episode airs at 9 p.m. and there’s a repeat of the previous week’s episode at 10 p.m.

This spring Hill is also teaching a Duke Ellington Special Topics course at MSU as an Honors College/Music Department shared subject. The series complements the course, but will also appeal to listeners with even a minimal knowledge of music.

The titles of each show in the series include:

  1. Early Masterpieces and The Cotton Club
  2. From “The Jungle Band” to “Duke Ellington and his Famous Orchestra”
  3. Duke Ellington into the Swing Era and the Blanton/Webster Band
  4. The Blanton/Webster Band 1939-1941
  5. Duke Live in 1940 – The Fargo Recordings
  6. The War Years and Black, Brown and Beige
  7. Post War Years: The Columbia and Capitol Recordings
  8. Rebirth at Newport ‘56
  9. Revitalization of Career and Creativity
  10. The Late Suites and Sacred Concerts
Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons, Library of Congress

WKMS celebrates Black History Month with a unique collection of vignettes during Sounds Good all month long, a limited-run series on the life and music of Duke Ellington and special programming covering "Race and Fear" in America, the Civil Rights movement from Seneca Falls to Selma to Stonewall, and a special report following three African American women coping with breast cancer.