Wildness and Order Duke Ellington’s “Happy Go Lucky Local”

Keywords: Jazz, Duke Ellington, Aesthetic Realism, Eli Siegel, “Happy Go Lucky Local”.


This article (with musical links) looks
at one of the important compositions
of Duke Ellington from the mid-1940s through
the perspective of Aesthetic Realism,
the philosophy founded by the American critic
and poet Eli Siegel. The basis of this approach
is that when a work of art in any field is good
or beautiful, the reason is that it puts opposites
together, opposites that are in the structure
of reality as a whole and that every person
is hoping to make sense of. This is true
of Ellington’s “Happy Go Lucky Local”: it is wild
and organized, repetitive and surprising,
cacophonous and orderly. It is musical evidence
that difficult, even unbearable things
can be seen with form, seen beautifully.

The Art of Music