Wikipedia : This day (May 24, 1974), in New York City, died Edward Kennedy Ellington a.k.a Duke Ellington, an American composer, pianist and big-band leader.
Duke Ellington : Duke Ellington called his music American Music rather than jazz, and liked to describe those who impressed him as beyond category. As both a composer and a band leader, Ellington’s reputation has increased since his death, with thematic repackagings of his signature music often becoming best-sellers.
@allmusic : The two aspects of his career were related; Ellington used his band as a musical laboratory for his new compositions and shaped his writing specifically to showcase the talents of his bandmembers, many of whom remained with him for long periods.
@last.fm : Through the ranks of Duke Ellington’s Orchestra passed some of the biggest names in jazz, including Johnny Hodges, Cootie Williams, Bubber Miley, Joe “Tricky Sam” Nanton, Barney Bigard, Ben Webster, Harry Carney, Sonny Greer, Otto Hardwick, Clark Terry, Jimmy Blanton, Ray Nance, Paul Gonsalves, etc.