BLACK, BROWN & BEIGE: THE COLORS OF DESA

January 23, 1943, Duke Ellington performed his first concert at the famed Carnegie Hall.  It was during the Carnegie Hall concert that Ellington debuted what has been termed Ellington’s lengthiest and most ambitious composition entitled Black, Brown and Beige.  A three movement suite, Black, Brown and Beige was portrayed by Ellington as a “…parallel to the history of the Negro in America…”. Ellington received both positive and negative critical acclaim for this effort to tell the tale of black life from slavery through present day 1940s through a complex composition which blended elements of classical music with the underpinnings of jazz swing.

“First of all, you have an African-American bandleader and composer playing a piece about a “parallel to the history of the American Negro” in 1943 at Carnegie Hall. That alone might get you a couple of bad reviews before you even play a note.”    ~ Christian McBride

Black, Brown and Beige were selected as the colors of Duke Ellington School of the Arts’ in homage to Duke Ellington’s trailblazing effort, as a black composure, to bring the married composition of jazz and classical music, depicting the story of black life to a white audience in 1943.  Some consider this undertaking by Ellington to be a “
Blueprint for Protest Musicthat has continuously flowed from black artists since the 1940s.  

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