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Ellington 2021 – Michael Kilpatrick

Michael Kilpatrick – baritone saxophonist and orchestra leader – was one of the speakers on the second day of Ellington 2021.

He is also a recognized transcriber of Duke Ellington’s and Billy Strayhorn’s music. For this work, he has spent long periods at the Smithsonian’s Ellington Archive, Washington D.C., to go through the boxes there with musical scores by the hands of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn.

In conjunction with the cancelled Ellington 2020 Conference, Michael spent another 10 days in the Ellington Archive and returned home with more than 3000 pages of scores.

Together with his partner Sibelius – the music notation software – Michael has spent the last year to making sense of what he found in the Ellington Archive and in his presentation, Michael took the audience on a terrific exploration on how to turn fragments of Duke Ellington scores into a full musical piece.



After all the presentation on the second day when everybody was relaxing, Michael provided another “goodie” to the participants in the meeting – a short extract of Nobody’s Baby Now.


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Harmony in Harlem website

Sound file of presentation

The Duke Lives On – Harmony in Harlem

In our series “Duke Lives On”, we present today the Harmony in Harlem band. It is a British orchestra with DESUK member and arranger Michael Kilpatrick as its musical director. It is based in South Cambridgeshire and was formed in 2006.

It calls itself a rehearsal band, i.e. the band members meet regularly to rehearse and to expand its repertoire of Ellington music.  The orchestra tours frequently to play concerts and dances.

Kilpatrick has provided the band with an authentic repertoire, which evokes the Cotton Club days of Duke Ellington and his orchestra.

He has done this by drawing on his research at The Smithsonian in Washington D.C. transcribing the works of Ellington and Billy Strayhorn as accurately and faithfully as possible from the records and scores held there in the Duke Ellington Archive.

The aim of this work is also to “encourage orchestras to bring to performance many of Ellington underrated masterpieces”. A catalogue of Kilpatrick’s Ellington transcriptions can be found at http://www.ellington-music.co.uk/index.php?page=catalogue

One of his recent transcription is Such Sweet Thunder, which the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Scotland used for its performance in early August 2016 in the Royal Albert Hall as part of the BBC Proms.

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