There's a wonderful scene in a 1944 New Yorker profile in which Ellington is shown deflating the expectations of an Icelandic music student who tries to nudge him toward the "classical," "genius" category.
The student keeps peppering the master with questions about Bach, and, before answering, Ellington makes an elaborate show of unwrapping a pork chop that he has stowed in his pocket. "Bach and myself [Bold mine]," he says, taking a bite from the chop, "both write with individual performers in mind." With that pork chop maneuver, Ellington put distance between himself and the European conception of genius, though without rejecting it entirely.
Another time he addressed the issue head-on: "To attempt to elevate the status of the jazz musician by forcing the level of his best work into comparisons with classical music is to deny him his rightful share of originality."
What does 'Bach and myself' mean?
What's the significance of the pork chop? Keeping pork chops in one's pockets appear strange to me; it'd dirty, oil, and stain Ellington's clothing.