Edward Kennedy Ellington, also known simply as “Duke,” was one of the slickest jazz cats this city has ever seen. He was a composer, pianist, and bandleader for over 50 years, playing every stage from Europe’s most exquisite concert halls to Uptown’s own Cotton Club. He earned the nickname Duke when he was a child because his friends believed he was a young nobleman due to his graceful elegance, smooth talkin’, and his dapper style. While we never met him as a child (obviously), we can say he was surely a nobleman of American Music, which is good enough for us.
Though he was always a master of tickling ivory, he was a baseball nut. So much so that his first job was selling peanuts at a ballpark (pun intended). He wrote his first of over 1,000 compositions when he was only 15 years old. Maybe if 15 year-olds nowadays would ever look up from their iPhones, we could have another Ellington. But that’s a lot to ask of them.
But on a real note, Ellington was a real Renaissance Man. Harlem Renaissance, that is. This man did more for music and for New York City than most other people had even come close to doing. The Duke was always a nobleman of fashion, looking slick and refined from a young age until the day he died. Our Ellington Bag would have been perfect for him to carry his compositions as he strolled down 125th street whistling his next tune while the chirping, fluttering birds join in for harmony. While the Duke no longer is around to bring his beautiful tunes to our ears, his namesake bag is here to pass on his legend and to help men look as slick as he always did.