Composed in 1942, Duke Ellington’s Black, Brown, and Beige stands out as being among his most daring and innovative works. It was Ellington’s first attempt at a long-form, quasi-symphonic composition, set in three movements. It premiered at Carnegie Hall in 1943, a first for the band, presenting jazz as an art form not to be defined or confined by the formulaic three-minute popular music of the Swing Era. Set against the backdrop of World War II, it mourned and celebrated the African-American experience and brought attention to their long history of patriotism. “We, of course, find the black, brown, and beige right in there for the red, white, and blue,” Ellington told his audience.
Performed by the UNC Pembroke Jazz Ensemble