The Harlem Footwarmers was actually Duke Ellington & His Orchestra! Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington (April 29, 1899 — May 24, 1974). Ellington wrote over 1,000 compositions. In the words of Bob Blumenthal of The Boston Globe “In the century since his birth, there has been no greater composer, American or otherwise, than Edward Kennedy Ellington.”At the Cotton Club in Harlem, Ellington’s group performed all the music for the revues, which mixed comedy, dance numbers, vaudeville, burlesque, music, and illegal alcohol. The musical numbers were composed by Jimmy McHugh and the lyrics by Dorothy Fields, with some Ellington originals mixed in. Weekly radio broadcasts from the club gave Ellington national exposure. In 1929 Ellington, The Cotton Club Orchestra appeared on stage for several months in Florenz Ziegfeld’s Show Girl, along with Jimmy Durante, Al Jolson, Ruby Keeler, and with music and lyrics by George Gershwin and Gus Kahn. That feverish period also included numerous recordings, under the pseudonym “Harlem Footwarmers”.
The Duke used the The Harlem Footwarmers when he was working with the Okeh label from 1928-31. The Harlem Footwarmers band were musicans that were drawn from the twelve piece Cotton Club orchestra. The Harlem Footwarmers tunes were arranged by Duke Ellington; Banjo, Fred Guy; Bass, Wellman Braud; Clarinet Barney Bigard, drums, Sonny Greer, leader, Duke Ellington; piano Duke Ellington; Trombone, Joe “Tricky Sam” Nanton; Trumpet, and Arthur Whetsol in Harlem, New York, 14 October, 1930