Mercer Ellington was born in Washington, D.C., the only child
of Duke and Edna Ellington. He received formal music training
and eventually led his own band as a trumpet player. Joining
his father in Los Angeles in 1940 he began a period of study
with the Duke Ellington Orchestra that lasted until he went into
the service; this would be Mercer’s most productive period
with regard to jazz standards.
In Duke Ellington in Person: An Intimate Memoir, Mercer
"There is nothing like practical experience, and when the band
played arrangements I had written under [Duke’s]
supervision, like “Moon Mist,” “Blue Serge,” “Things Ain’t What
They Used to Be,” and “The Girl in My Dreams,” it was as
instructive as gratifying."
Mercer participated in the Duke Ellington Orchestra, at times
in an administrative capacity, and then as band member in the
50’s and 60’s