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Edmund Anderson was a music lover who was working as a stockbroker for his father’s firm when he met Duke Ellington in the late ‘30s. They became lifelong friends, and Ellington was best man at Anderson’s wedding. The friends listened to music together, and Anderson is credited with inspiring Ellington’s appreciation of classical music. Ellington was the first to record “Flamingo,” a composition by Theodor Grouya for which Anderson wrote lyrics. With Herb Jeffries on vocals, the song became a big hit for Ellington in 1941 and a signature tune for Jeffries. Anderson also wrote lyrics for Billy Strayhorn’s “Lotus Blossom,” which became “Thank You for Everything,” and for Ellington’s “Azure.”
In 1943 Anderson helped produce Duke’s Black, Brown and Beige concert at Carnegie Hall. He also produced jazz programming and shows for radio and television, among them “The Edgar Bergen-Charlie McCarthy Show.” He may be best remembered as the producer for 19 years of “Midtown Jazz at Midday” for the Jazz Ministry of Saint Peter’s Church in Manhattan of which he was an active member. He was honored for his contributions to jazz in a memorial concert performed by numerous jazz musicians at the Church in 2002.
- Sandra Burlingame
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