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Duke Ellington was born Edward Kennedy Ellington on April 28 1899 in Washington DC to Daisy and James Ellington They served as the ideal role models for young Duke and taught him everything from table manners to the power of music He was eight when he got his first piano lessons By the age of fourteen he was sneaking into Frank Hollidays poolroom He learned from his experiences in the poolroom how to appreciate the value of mixing with a wide rage of people He attended the Armstrong Manual Training School to study commercial art instead of an academically-oriented school During the summer months he would seek out and listen to ragtime pianists in Washington He said he decided to become a musician when he realized that when playing the piano there was always a pretty girl standing down at the bass clef end of the piano thus the music career of Duke Ellington was born He was called Duke because he was something of a dandy with a love of fancy clothes and an elegant style He retained those traits throughout his life The secret of the Ellington style was that it was no mere style at all but simply the manifestation of what he was made of within 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 Ellingtons career as a bandleader lasted more than fifty years during at least forty-five of which he was a public figure of some fame It is often said that there were three major marks during that span The first occurred in the late 1920s when
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