Edward Kennedy Ellington was born April 29, 1899 in Washington, D.C. Ellington's parents, James and Daisy Ellington, actively supported his educational development. Duke had his first piano lesson at the age of eight; however, at the time it was not his immediate interest. At this time he was interested in baseball, which brought his first job as a peanut salesman at the Washington Senator's games. This helped Duke overcome stage fright, which was of use for the future to come. With his piano lessons fading in the past, he showed interest in the art. As a result he attended Armstrong Manual Training School to study commercial art instead of attending an academics-oriented school. As time went by Duke began to listen and seek out pianists in Washington, and in summers while he would vacation with his mother in Philadelphia and Atlantic City he would also find different artist. On one of these vacations Duke met Harvey Brooks in Asbury Park. Duke later sought out Harvey in Philadelphia and spent time with him. Harvey Brooks taught Duke many tricks and shortcuts on the piano, in doing so Harvey Brooks ignited an inner passion in Duke for music.
Between 1899 and 1974, Duke moved from his home town to New York where he formed his own band and began to arrange music and write jazz in a distinctive style which included serious concert music, tone poems, ballet suites and short concerto-like pieces. Another well known piece of Dukes was “Ko-ko”, a bluesy mood with model effects and complex harmonies that put it in the realm of concert music.
In the early thirties, his skills were sharpened and he made his first attempts at composing longer works. Re-workings of his earlier successes were an indication of the progress he had made. No longer did you hear the chugging sound of early jazz bands, now you heard a panorama of musical textures bound together by a subtler but no less incisive pulse.
Throughout his career Ellington also held close to the values...