Music: The Duke

Twenty years ago Duke Ellington rode into the big time on a gunman's rod. A Philadelphia theater had him under contract but that didn't stop the burly boys sent by Harlem's Cotton Club which wanted him for their new show. One of them told the Philadelphia manager: "Be big or you'll be dead." The quaking manager gave up Ellington. The Duke and his jittery band arrived at the Cotton Club a few minutes before opening time.

Last week dapper, grinning and a little chubbier at 48 (he prefers to call it "plenty-eight"), the Duke celebrated his anniversary by playing some of his...

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