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 states,
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.