Ray Nance was a multi-talented individual. He was a fine trumpeter who not only replaced Cootie Williams with Duke Ellington's Orchestra, but gave the "plunger" position in Duke's band his own personality. In addition, Nance was one of the finest jazz violinists of the 1940s, an excellent jazz singer, and even a dancer.
He studied piano, took lessons on violin, and was self-taught on trumpet. After leading a small group in Chicago (1932-1937), spending periods with the orchestras of Earl Hines (1937-1938) and Horace Henderson (1939-1940), and a few months as a solo act, Nance joined Duke Ellington's orchestra