Washington is a theme park of power, a city to which fifteen million American tourists travel each year, there to gaze upon the marble monuments that enshrine their past and foreshadow their future. Few go looking for art, though no American city has more museums, and fewer still think of the nation's capital as a center of jazz, though it's said that before 1920 Washington was home to more nightclubs than Harlem. But even if that boast smacks of boosterism, it suggests the vitality to which there is ample testimony from those who saw it for themselves. And while only a handful of jazz greats grew up in Washington, one of them was Duke Ellington, who was born in a neighborhood whose name now evokes the black history he would study in its schools as a boy and make for himself as an adult.
-Terry Teachout, Duke: A Live of Duke Ellington