The Grandest Duke

The Duke Box

Storyville, eight CDs, $79.98

Music was not a predestined career choice for Ellington. He liked to draw and attended a commercial art school, and in his teens ran a sign-painting business. But by age fifteen he had discovered the profits and pleasures of music, acquiring the musical knowledge he needed not systematically but by absorbing what he could from every musician he encountered, whether formally trained or not, plunging into the heart of an emerging musical culture of vital exchanges: “The ear cats loved what the schooled cats did,” he wrote, “and the schooled guys, with fascination, would try what the ear cats were doing.”

This article is available to online subscribers only.
Please choose from one of the options below to access this article:

Print Premium Subscription — $94.95

Purchase a print premium subscription (20 issues per year) and also receive online access to all all content on

Online Subscription — $69.00

Purchase an Online Edition subscription and receive full access to all articles published by the Review since 1963.

One-Week Access — $4.99

Purchase a trial Online Edition subscription and receive unlimited access for one week to all the content on

If you already have one of these subscriptions, please be sure you are logged in to your account. If you subscribe to the print edition, you may also need to link your web site account to your print subscription. Click here to link your account services.