Edward "Duke" Ellington
9' x 9' x 20'
stainless steel & granite
Constructed of stainless and fabricated steel, Duke is a jazz harmony of the many elements of the man and his music. Just as jazz is built on a complex structure of chord progressions, modal tonalities, and improvisation, this sweeping public art is the expression of layered meaning and imagery.
In the sculptor’s own words: “Duke is seated on a treble clef . . . the entrance, if you will, to a musical score, just as this work is the gateway to a neighborhood. But it’s not just any G-clef. It is a replica of Duke Ellington’s own stylized rendering of this musical notation taken directly from his handwritten scores.”
A mature Duke in full possession of his immense talent sits at an abstract piano, its keys, themselves, becoming notes on the musical staff, jazz riffs, and syncopated rhythms.
“I have often sculpted smaller-scale figures dancing with abandon to music only they can hear. But with Duke, I set my sights on something different. I wanted to use solid materials to create the quality of sound one associates with this master of the jazz idiom. And, for me, it works. When I close my eyes, I can almost hear the echoes of Ellington’s Sophisticated Lady.”
For the residents of Shaw and, indeed, for all who see it, Duke is a symbol of so much. It is first a tribute to the legend, himself, but it is also a connection to the past, and as the symbol of a revitalized neighborhood, a hope for the future. Duke—where towering sculpture becomes soaring music.