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Duke Ellington (1899–1974) was an extremely influential figure in the development of jazz music. Born in Washington, D.C., and trained as a pianist, Ellington moved to New York City in the 1920s.

Starting in 1923, he led his own jazz orchestra that played regularly at Harlem’s Cotton Club and soon gained nationwide popularity. Ellington composed over 1,000 songs, and many of his pieces have become swing and jazz standards. From the 1930s until the 1960s, he collaborated closely with composer and arranger Billy Strayhorn. Ellington’s expressive contributions altered the course of jazz history and music culture in general.