Duke Ellington and His World
Based on lengthy interviews with Ellington's bandmates, family, and friends, Duke Ellington and His World offers a fresh look at this legendary composer. The first biography of the composer written by a fellow musician and African-American, the book traces Ellington's life and career in terms of the social, cultural, political, and economic realities of his times. Beginning with his birth in Washington, DC, through his first bands and work at the legendary Cotton Club, to his final great extended compositions, this book gives a thorough introduction to Ellington's music and how it was made. It also illuminates his personal life because, for Ellington, music was his life and his life was a constant inspiration for music.
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Duke Ellington and his world: a biographyUser Review - Book Verdict
Lawrence, a former jazz musician, contributes to the growing literature about bandleader, composer, and pianist Edward "Duke" Ellington (1899-1974). Basing his narrative on interviews with dozens of former Ellington band members, Lawrence tells the story of Duke's middle-class childhood in Washington, DC, musical influences, rise on the local music scene, and emergence in New York City. He devotes much of the book to Ellington's long-standing stint at the Cotton Club and his resulting international prominence. He ends with the bandleader's reemergence at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival and the last two decades of his life. Throughout, he probes Ellington's personality (especially his dysfunctional relationships with women) and meticulously describes Ellington, his bandmates, and his recordings and engagements. Despite the book's title, he only rarely mentions the social climate that swirled around them. Not the definitive Ellington biography, this is still an informative look at one of America's greatest musical figures. For general readers and specialists alike.--David P. Szatmary, Univ. of Washington, Seattle ...