" It makes no difference if it's sweet or hot/ just keep that rhythm, give it everything you got-. Jazz music has been an influence for American culture for over a century. It has influenced all musicians in some way or another. Whether the style is swing, latin, or funk, jazz is a part of life. Originating in the deep south of Louisiana, it soon became a hit. Duke Ellington is among the many musicians who fall in love with this style, but among the lucky few who center their lives on it. Through his life, Duke relied on music, savoring the sounds of life, and depicted them through his music. His music tells a story, whether is be about a young girl with a nutcracker doll, or a magical trip through New York.
Edward Kennedy Ellington was born on April 29, 1899 (Haskings 82). He was the son of J.E. and Daisy Ellington (Ellington Biography). J.E. was a butler in the White House (Haskings 82). Edward's life revolved around his friends. Growing up, Duke would always wear newly shined shoes and a tie (Haskins 82). This earned him the nickname Duke'. While young, he started taking piano lessons, but these lessons dulled him. Mrs. Klingscale, Duke's music teacher, suggested to Daisy that it was perhaps a waste of money to pay for lessons that he had no interest in. Duke preferred music to ring, not be mechanical (Turkell 81).
Duke's first attempt at jazz was imitation. J.P. Johnson, a ragtime pianist, had recorded "Carolina Shout-. Duke studied Johnson, imitating everything, from notes to even the smallest wrist movements. Once, at a club, Duke was called up to perform for Johnson. The final result was "Kid, you do it better than me."" (J.P. Johnson) (Turkell 83). After this show, Duke began taking lessons from Henry Grant. After a concert one night, Willie The Lion' Smith gave Duke an impromptu lesson on harmony. Throughout their musical career, they continued to compliment each other in their songs.