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Meet Amazing Americans Musicians & Composers Duke Ellington
 
James P. Johnson, 1946
James P. Johnson, the "Father of Stride Piano," was a friend and teacher of Ellington's

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Duke Ellington's Early Years
Ellington studied music during the ragtime era. Ragtime was a kind of popular American music consisting of off-beat dance rhythms that began with the honky-tonk pianists along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. By the time he was 20, he and his friends formed a band that would be the foundation for his life's work. From 1923 to 1927, he and his band lived in New York City and made about 60 recordings. Their first big break came on December 4, 1927, at the opening night of what would turn out to be a long engagement at the Cotton Club in New York City's Harlem neighborhood. The Ellington Orchestra often broadcast live on radio from the Cotton Club, so their unique style of jazz became familiar to people across the country.
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