During a career spanning half a century, Duke Ellington and his orchestra composed enough songs to keep jazz musicians busy for the next half. During this time he also popularized jazz as a legitimate form of music to white audiences through his nightly performances at Harlem's legendary Cotton Club, beginning in 1927. 1927 was a watershed year for Duke Ellington, not only did he land the prestigious Cotton Club gig (and the nationwide radio broadcast that went along with it), but it was also the year that Ellington signed a lucrative deal with agent Irving Mills. Mills introduced Ellington to an even wider audience, getting him recording sessions with Victor, Columbia and Brunswick. His reputation grew and by 1929 he was starring in the groundbreaking all-African American RKO short film Black And Tan. These recordings, all from 1927 and 1928, mark those significant years when Ellington was a swiftly rising star.