At 15%, the author has just got to the Cotton Club, a Harlem club owned by a notorious Irish gang boss Owney Madden and his violent legbreakers. The Cotton Club served up light-skinned, scantily-clad showgirls and black jazz musicians to an exclusively white clientele who ventured to Harlem for a flavor of the exotic. By all account Madden is the worst type of gangster. But he paid the musicians and showgirls fair to good wages and never bothered them artistically or bodily. Oddly, working for the worst gangsters afforded by-proxy protection for them from other troubles.
Curiously, Madden frequently played bridge with Ellington and Bubber Miley (the trumpeter) after the shows. Another band member (Sonny Greer) said he "loved Duke and loved me." They were said to get along quite well. In later years, Ellington never talked about the segregation and seediness of the Cotton Club and called it a classy joint.
If I were to write this into fiction it would be way too cheesy and cliched. I guess I'd have to do it in Chinese. [g]