Highlighting Collaboration in the Music History Classroom Through the Duke Ellington Orchestra w/ Kim Teal

Educator resources

In order to strengthen perceptions of jazz as high art, early jazz criticism, and later the young field of jazz studies, often presented Duke Ellington as a remarkably strong individual composer. While this narrative served an important twentieth-century purpose in celebrating his art in particular and the broader arenas of jazz and African American music in a cultural environment that often positioned such music as primitive, unrefined, or overly commercial, it bears revisiting in a twenty-first-century context, especially as it does not easily account for Ellington’s well documented practice of collaborative composition. This project explores how Ellington’s music can can be used to teach jazz history students about the role of community, collaboration, loss, and healing in Ellington’s musical practices through close readings of works as performed before and after the deaths of featured Ellington Orchestra members. It draws on multiple recordings of various solos in reference to the soloists’ written part books housed in the Duke Ellington Collection at the Smithsonian to tease out the relationship between Ellington’s written and sounding music. In this context, Ellington’s reliance on the creativity of others will be revisited as a strength rather than a liability, an aspect of Ellington’s musicianship that allowed him and his orchestra to survive and flourish and one that makes them more human and relatable for contemporary audiences, explaining rather than diminishing the strength that has afforded them a place in the canon.


Plus a Q & A with the live audience.


A presentation from the Jazz Education Research and Practice Journal, a publication of the Jazz Education Network.




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charlotte lang

Swiss/Dutch saxophonist Charlotte Lang was born in 1996 in Basel and studied the bachelor and master program at the JAZZCAMPUS Basel under the guidance of Domenic Landolf and Daniel Blanc. She is currently studying the Master of Music in Global Jazz at the Berklee College of Music in Boston under the artistic direction of Danilo Pérez. In addition she is part of Terri Lyne Carrington’s Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice.


From 2015 to 2018, Charlotte she was a member of the Swiss National Youth Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Christian Muthspiel. Since 2020, she became a member of the German National Youth Jazz Orchestra (Bundesjazzorchester Deutschland), under the direction of Niels Klein and Ansgar Striepens. She also plays is the Austrian FJO (Frauen Jazz Orchester→Women Jazz Orchestra of Austria).


In 2021, Charlotte founded her own Quintet the „Charlotte Lang Group“, for what she is composing, arranging and booking. In the fall 2023, her first album will be recorded and hopefully released by a renowned label.


Charlotte plays in the “Swiss Jazz Orchestra” and the “Zurich Jazz Orchestra”, the two professional Big Bands of Switzerland.

Charlotte recently got the unique opportunity to write a monthly blog for the Swiss Jazz & Blues Magazine called JAZZTIME, to tell readers about her time at abroad and specifically her time at Berklee. Her graduate program lasts only until the summer of 2023. She hopes to stay in the United States to enlarge her network and build her musical career.