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Jazz Legend Duke Ellington Honored In Harlem

 Jazz singer Antoinette Montague sings in front of the Duke Ellington statue at 110th Street and 5th Avenue in Harlem to drum up interest in the 24th Annual Duke Ellington Study Group Conference, which honors the legacy of the composer.
Jazz singer Antoinette Montague sings in front of the Duke Ellington statue at 110th Street and 5th Avenue in Harlem to drum up interest in the 24th Annual Duke Ellington Study Group Conference, which honors the legacy of the composer.
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Dartunorro Clark/DNAinfo

HARLEM — The 24th Duke Ellington Study Group Conference held a mini jazz concert Thursday in Harlem to honor the famous jazz man.

Musicians Antoinette Montague and Marion Cowings belted out tunes next to the Duke Ellington statue at 110th Street and Five Avenue as dozens of fans gathered.

A band played famous Ellington tunes such as his signature songs "Take the 'A' Train" and "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)." 

“This is the foundation of the music you like today,” Montague said.

The conference is a gathering of musicologists and scholars from across the globe at St. Peter’s Church on Lexington Avenue to discuss the influence of Ellington, who composed about 3,000 songs and contemporary music themes.

The conference, which was held in Amsterdam last year, runs from May 19 to May 22. The group will also do a tour of famous places in Manhattan where Ellington socialized and wrote many of his songs.  

Mercedes Ellington, the granddaughter of the famous composer, said the conference is not only honoring her grandfather’s legacy but recognizing the roots of jazz in contemporary music.

“Jazz is America’s folk music,” she said.

To see the complete schedule of events, visit decfa.org.