Victor Aloysius Meyers was born in mid -1898 as the 15th of 16 children in Little Falls, Minnesota. Vic's father was County Treasurer for Morris County, Minnesota, a position he held for 30 years. When the family moved West to Oregon in the mid-'teens, Vic started on a musical career. He could play violin, but by the age of 18, he was a drummer in a three piece group that played each summer at Seaside, an ocean resort. At 21, in 1919 he got a two year contract to play with a full size band in the Rose Room in Seattle’s Hotel Butler, located at the corner of 2nd Avenue and James Street. Its construction started around 1900 and when it opened it "immediately became the jewel in the City’s crown. Its lavish Rose Room grill featured magnificent cuisine in an atmosphere of top recording orchestras, cut-glass chandeliers, thick imported carpets and sterling silver."
Duke Ellington recorded for Brunswick from 1926 to 1931, the period in which his great talent and great orchestra first flowered, whether the band was recording under his own name or such pseudonyms as the Washingtonians or the Jungle Band. The earliest recordings are highlighted by the presence of trumpeter Bubber Miley and trombonist "Tricky Sam" Nanton, whose brilliant work with plunger mutes for vocal effects did much to define the early sound–which, in turn, rapidly evolved and expanded with the additions of Harry Carney, Johnny Hodges, and Cootie Williams. While the band's repertoire included many blues and popular songs, its distinctive identity emerges from early renditions of such trademark pieces as "East St. Louis Toodle-O," "Black and Tan Fantasy," "The Mooche," and "Mood Indigo." By the end of the period covered in this set, Ellington's ambitious later suites–some of them CD-length–are portended in the elegant extended composition "Creole Rhapsody," his clearly superior contribution to the symphonic jazz movement.