Jazz Legend Was “Sentimental” About Durham

Sometimes, not very often, a story hits a reader. Sometimes that hit is hard like a linebacker, other times it’s just a glancing touch that brings memories of a person who elicited that “just so” feeling.

This story is all of the above.

For background and context, Durham was once home to one of the most vibrant Hayti communities in the US, and many famous African-American artists, musicians, performers, and authors made their way to and through Durham as a result. One of those was Duke Ellington – the jazz legend known the world around.

Today the blog North Carolina Miscellany posted a marvelous little bit of information that deserves to be noticed.

Ellington, a recipient of 13 Grammy Awards and the Pulitzer Prize, is less well-known for those accomplishments than for his songs – compositions that endure today as standards copied, emulated and repeated seemingly without showing signs of wear. One of those pieces was composed, on the spot to help a friend out of a delicate situation with two ladies, in Durham. That song is In a Sentimental Mood.

Read the blog post in full while imagining the heyday of Durham in which the song was created. The economy was good, money and work were plentiful, the world was at peace, and the nearest cabinet radio was filling the room with the dulcet tones of America’s music – jazz, some of which came from right here in Durham, NC.