Moda Entertainment: The US Postal Service Honors Duke Ellington

Moda Entertainment: The US Postal Service Honors Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington in the 1929 film Black and Tan.

Paul Ellington and Tony Bennett

Paul Ellington and Tony Bennett

Monday, April 27, 2009

MODA Entertainment is proud to announce that New York City mayor Michael R. Bloomberg will declare April 29th, 2009 "Duke Ellington Day"

Apr 29, 2009 – MODA Entertainment is proud to announce that New York City mayor Michael R. Bloomberg will declare April 29th, 2009 "Duke Ellington Day" in honor of the 110th anniversary of the jazz legend’s birth. The proclamation will be presented to Duke Ellington’s grandson, Paul Ellington. Paul is the executor of the Duke Ellington Estate and musical director/ leader of the world famous Duke Ellington Orchestra.

The Duke Ellington Estate is represented by New York based MODA Entertainment for marketing, merchandising and licensing. In honor of the 110th Anniversary of Duke Ellington’s birth, MODA Entertainment is proud to present special events on “Duke Ellington Day” in New York City to coincide with the proclamation.

In commemoration and celebration of the legendary musician and cultural icon, The Islands Of The Bahamas is sponsoring an April 29th run of the last surviving 1939 “A” train. The inspiration for Duke Ellington's signature tune, Take the A Train, the historic and beautifully restored “A” train will depart 125th Street at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, April 29, making express stops through Manhattan and Brooklyn to Howard Beach in Queens. Open to the public, the festive round-trip runs will prove once again that taking the “A” train is still indeed the quickest way to Sugar Hill in Harlem.

Duke Ellington, one of the 20th century's most renowned musicians, is among the signature figures in the history of jazz. Whether as composer or band leader, Ellington transcended musical and racial boundaries. When asked what inspired him to write, Ellington replied, "My men and my race are the inspiration of my work. I try to catch the character and mood and feeling of my people."

In his fifty-year career, Ellington played over 20,000 performances worldwide.

Duke Ellington received 13 Grammy Awards, including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement. He also was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the French Legion of Honor and the Pulitzer Prize. His image appeared on a US stamp in 1986. Ellington is the first African-American to solo on a U.S. coin. The Duke Ellington quarter was released in January of this year.

Ellington died on May 24, 1974, a month after his 75th birthday. He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in NYC. His funeral at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine was attended by over 12,000 people.

Ella Fitzgerald nailed it for the world: "A genius has passed."

Friday, July 18, 2008

In Session At The Columbia Records 30th Street Studio at the Morrison Hotel Gallery

Moda Entertainment

First Exhibition Featuring Fine Art Prints From Sony BMG's Photography Archive Icon Collectibles Opens July 18 In NYC

On July 18 the Morrison Hotel Gallery's Soho loft (116 Prince Street, NYC) will offer the first fine art photography exhibit drawn from the extensive Sony BMG archive. "In Session at the Columbia Records 30th Street Studio" will feature candid, in-the-studio photographs taken mostly by Columbia Records' in-house photographer Don Hunstein, at its legendary 30th Street Studio in New York City. The exhibit will feature over 30 limited edition fine art silver gelatin prints - many of them never-before-seen - of singular figures such as Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Billie Holiday, Tony Bennett, Miles Davis, Muhammad Ali, and Charles Mingus among others. Prior to the exhibit's public opening, the Morrison Hotel Gallery will host invitation-only previews of "In Session" on July 17.

In 1949, an abandoned Armenian Greek Orthodox church at 207 East 30th Street, between 2nd and 3rd Avenue in Manhattan, was transformed into one of the world's greatest recording studios, where some of the most dynamic and enduring records were created. From Bob Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited" to Leonard Bernstein's "West Side Story," from Miles Davis's "Kind Of Blue" to Glenn Gould's interpretations of Bach's "Goldberg Variations," the 30th Street Studio provided a distinctive ambiance, featuring a kaleidoscope of sublime sonic qualities unparalleled in the recording industry.

Though the building itself was demolished, "In Session" frames the momentous occasions that occurred within the 30th Street Studio walls and allows fans to hold on to them forever.

Each print to be featured in this exhibit was meticulously hand selected by the Morrison Hotel Gallery and Sony BMG's ICON Collectibles (, and represents a piece of musical history. Prints by Don Hunstein are numbered and signed by the photographer, who still lives in New York, and plans to attend the 'In Session' preview events. Prints will also be available for sale at

About The Morrison Hotel Gallery
Founded in 2001 by former record company executive and producer Peter Blachley, former independent record store owner Rich Horowitz and music photographer Henry Diltz, The Morrison Hotel Gallery has grown to become the major brand in fine art music photography. With already thriving locations in Soho in NYC, La Jolla California, and Los Angeles, MHG opened their largest location to date in March 2008, at 313 Bowery Street in NYC, former home to the legendary CBGB Gallery.

About ICON Collectibles
ICON Collectibles is a business specializing in selling unique Fine Art Prints, Music Plaques, Cover Art and one-of-a-kind memorabilia featuring a diversified collection of some of the world's greatest recording artists including: Bob Dylan, Tony Bennett, Miles Davis, Johnny Cash, Ella Fitzgerald and Muhammad Ali. All offerings are showcased and sold on Powered by SONY BMG Music Entertainment, ICON Collectibles is headquartered in New York City.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Newark, NJ hosts black cinema 1st-day party and Honors Duke Ellington; Moda Entertainment

There was an event in Hoboken when the Frank Sinatra stamp came out in May, but it wasn't a first-day-of-issue ceremony. Two of those were held in New York and Las Vegas. The one in Hoboken was called a "first day of sale" ceremony, somewhat a diminished honor.
But New Jersey will host a genuine first-day-of-issue party July 16 at the Newark Museum, where the Vintage Black Cinema stamps will make their debut during the annual Newark Black Film Festival.

The colorful 42-cent commemoratives are based on five vintage movie posters: for the 1921 silent film "The Sport of the Gods"; the 1929 movie "Black and Tan," which featured the first screen appearance of Duke Ellington; the 1935 French film "Princess Tam-Tam," one of four movies to star Josephine Baker; "Hallelujah" from 1929, one of the first major-studio films with an all-black cast, and the 1945 short "Caldonia," with singer, saxophonist and "jump blues" bandleader Louis Jordan.

The selected posters trace the evolution of black cinema from the so-called "race" movies made for exclusively African-American audiences to the films aimed at broader audiences that the irrepressible talent of black artists demanded. They are a historical record of American cultural and social progress.

The stamps, designed by Carl Herrman of Carlsbad, Calif., will be in panes of 20, with four rows of the five stamps.

The first-day ceremony, which will begin at 10 a.m., will include appearances by actress Lynn Whitfield, who played Josephine Baker in the 1991 movie "The Josephine Baker Story," Martha Jordan, the wife of Louis Jordan, Jean-Claude and Garry Baker, sons of Josephine Baker, and Gloria Hopkins Buck, chairwoman of the film festival. It is open to the public, and the stamps and black cinema memorabilia will be on sale.

Begun in 1974, the Newark Black Film Festival is the longest-running such event in the United States.

The Newark Museum, an underappreciated gem in downtown Newark, is at 49 Washington St., across from Washington Park.

For more information, go online at or or call (800) 782-6724 for the Postal Service or (973) 596-6550 for the museum.

Friday, July 4, 2008


JOIN ONE OF THE MOST SIGNIFICANT BANDS IN JAZZ HISTORY led by Paul Mercer Ellington, grandson of the legendary Duke Ellington, for their only NYC residency this summer. Following a rigorous European tour, the band returns to the states for their first U.S. engagement featured as the second act during the Blue Note Summer Big Band Festival. The weeklong engagement promises to be high-energy event, invoking the sophistication, style, and infectious swing endemic of the classic Duke Ellington Orchestra.

Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington was the most prolific composer of the twentieth century in terms of both number of compositions and variety of forms. His development was one of the most spectacular in the history of music, underscored by more than fifty years of sustained achievement as an artist and entertainer. He is considered by many to be America's greatest composer, bandleader and recording artist.

The extent of Ellington's innovations helped redefine the various forms in which he worked. He synthesized many of the elements of American music - the minstrel song, ragtime, Tin Pan Alley, the blues and American appropriations of the European music tradition - into a consistent style which, though technically complex, has a directness and simplicity of expression largely absent from the purported art music of the twentieth century. Ellington's first great achievements came in the three-minute song form, and he later wrote music for all kinds of settings: the ballroom, the comedy stage, the nightclub, the movie house, the theater, the concert hall, and the cathedral. His blues writing resulted in new conceptions of form, harmony, and melody and he became the master of the romantic ballad and created numerous works that featured the great soloists in his jazz orchestra.

Paul Mercer Ellington is currently the Conductor and Bandleader for the Duke Ellington Orchestra. He is also a noted songwriter and producer. He has a degree in Filmmaking from the Vancouver Film School which he completed in February of 2006. He has worked on movies since his graduation while still coming on the road with the band. In addition he has received a scholarship to attend The Vancouver Film School for writing for Film, TV & Interactive Media in 2007. Initially Paul had difficulty convincing the band that he was the right man for the job. But he debuted his first composition for the Big Band at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, and he received a huge ovation from the audience. Since then there have been some changes made to the Duke Ellington Orchestra: Paul Mercer Ellington is now the Conductor and Bandleader.


LICENSEBOX takes great pleasure in announcing the addition of famed composer and musician Duke Ellington to its roster of esteemed clients who have made a lasting impact on the history of show business and Classic Hollywood.

The music and influence of Duke Ellington is both timeless and universal. His more than 3,000 musical compositions have entertained millions around the world – both during his lifetime and after his death. Among his most famous titles are: "It Don't Mean a Thing if It Ain't Got That Swing", "Sophisticated Lady", “Solitude”, and "Mood Indigo". Duke Ellington's popular compositions set the bar for generations of brilliant jazz, pop, theatre and soundtrack composers to come. Many of today’s most accomplished artists freely acknowledge the influence Ellington’s unique talents have had on their own musical careers.

And Ellington’s popularity endures. His music has been heard and appreciated by contemporary audiences through his contributions to the popular HBO television program The Sopranos and for the song “Caravan”, which was featured in the recent Oceans Thirteen (2007).

Duke Ellington formed his own orchestra in 1928 and between 1927-1932 he was one of the most popular attractions at New York’s famed Cotton Club. Ellington made his first European tour in 1933 and began his annual Carnegie Hall concerts between 1943-1950. He appeared on Broadway in Jump for Joy and Beggars Holiday, among other productions. He also appeared in motion pictures, debuting as a piano player in the 1934 Mae West-starrer Belle of the Nineties. He often appeared as “himself” onscreen, in such films as Murder at the Vanities (1934), Cabin in the Sky (1943) and Date with Duke (1947). His remarkable talent and cheery, upbeat personality was always a welcome sight for movie audiences. He made his ciematic swan song in an uncredited bit as Pie Eye in the 1959 Otto Preminger-directed Anatomy of a Murder, for which he received a Grammy for Best Soundtrack Album, Background Score from Motion Picture or Television. In 1962 he was nominated for an Oscar for Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture for Paris Blues.

While his film credits were few, Ellington appeared regularly on television in such popular programs as Frankie Laine Time, The Steve Allen Show and The Dean Martin Show. In 1968 he teamed up with jazz singer Barbara McNair for the TV special The Barbara McNair and Duke Ellington Special.

During his career, Ellington received many awards and tributes. In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson presented Duke Ellington with the Prtesident’s Gold Medal. Three years later President Richard Nixon awarded Ellington the Presidential Medal of Freedom, stating: “In the royalty of American music, no man swings more or stands higher than the Duke.”

In addition to his 13 Grammy Awards, Ellington received the Pulitzer Prize and was awarded the French Legion of Honor in 1973. In 1971 he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1971, while in 1978 he was Charter inductee of the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame. Twelve years after his death, in 1986 a 22-cent United States Commemorative stamp featuring his image was issued.

Duke Ellington was a true renaissance man and perhaps the original “hipster”. He was one of the twentieth-century’s best-known and well-respected African-Americans, who possessed a universal appeal which allowed him to transcend countless boundaries. He represented style, sophistication, elegance and cool. As both a composer and a bandleader, his reputation has increased since his death.

At his funeral, Ella Fitzgerald noted: “It’s a very sad day . . . A genius has passed.”

We are proud and honored to welcome a true icon, Duke Ellington, to LICENSEBOX.

For More Information Contact Richard Zampella;