Duke Elington

1.Duke Ellington Composer, musician, bandleader (April 29, 1899 - May 24, 1974)
2.Biography: Beginnings • Born Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington • Grew up in the District of Columbia • Began piano lessons at age seven, but found baseball more interesting • Nickname comes from his casual, offhand manner, easy grace and dapper dress which gave him the bearing of a young nobleman • First composition in 1914, “Soda Fountain Rag,” (or “Poodle Dog Rag”) written while working as a soda jerk at the Poodle Dog Cafe for the summer, was created by ear because he had not yet learned to read music. He would play it as a one-step, two-step, waltz, tango and foxtrot and listeners never knew it was the same piece.
3.• At age fourteen he began Biography, sneaking into Frank Holiday’s Poolroom, where the pool cont. room pianists ignited his love for the instrument • Began listening to, watching and imitating ragtime pianists in D.C. as well as Atlantic City and Philadelphia • Was hooked once he started to play gigs in cafes and clubs around the city – Turned down an art scholarship to the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn – Dropped out of the commercial art program at Armstrong Manual Training School just three months shy of graduation
4.Biography: Beginnings, cont. • Launched musical career painting commercial signs by day and playing piano gigs he set up himself by night • Also worked as a messenger for the U.S. Navy and State Department • Moved into his own house that he bought for himself as he became a successful ragtime, jazz and society pianist • At first he played in other ensembles but formed his first group in 1917: “The Duke’s Serenaders,” for which he was a member as well as the booking agent • With his music career taking off, he felt financially secure and married his high school sweetheart Edna Thompson in 1918 when he was nineteen and within the year she gave birth to their only son
5.Drop Me Off at Harlem • When his drummer was invited to join an orchestra in NYC,...