Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington

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Gotham Books, Oct 17, 2013 - Biography & Autobiography - 496 pages
31 Reviews
A major new biography of Duke Ellington from the acclaimed author of Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong

Edward Kennedy ?Duke” Ellington was the greatest jazz composer of the twentieth century?and an impenetrably enigmatic personality whom no one, not even his closest friends, claimed to understand. The grandson of a slave, he dropped out of high school to become one of the world's most famous musicians, a showman of incomparable suavity who was as comfortable in Carnegie Hall as in the nightclubs where he honed his style. He wrote some fifteen hundred compositions, many of which, like ?Mood Indigo” and ?Sophisticated Lady,” remain beloved standards, and he sought inspiration in an endless string of transient lovers, concealing his inner self behind a smiling mask of flowery language and ironic charm.

As the biographer of Louis Armstrong, Terry Teachout is uniquely qualified to tell the story of the public and private lives of Duke Ellington. Duke peels away countless layers of Ellington's evasion and public deception to tell the unvarnished truth about the creative genius who inspired Miles Davis to say, ?All the musicians should get together one certain day and get down on their knees and thank Duke.”

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It's very well written and meticulously researched. - Goodreads
Writing descriptions of music is difficult. - Goodreads
Tremendous insight into the man, the band and the era. - Goodreads

Review: Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington

User Review  - Harriett Milnes - Goodreads

This book is slightly different than Duke Ellington's America, which I also gave 5 stars. Mr Teachout has done a great job of portraying Duke's life and music. He feels strongly that Duke's longer ... Read full review

Review: Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington

User Review  - Nick Johnston - Goodreads

Teachout does an excellent job of weaving Ellington's early life into the greater social and racial context of its time -- his treatment of the complicated world of being a top entertainer in the ... Read full review

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About the author (2013)

Terry Teachout, the drama critic at The Wall Street Journal, is the author of Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong and Satchmo at the Waldorf, a one-man play about Armstrong's life and times. He lives in New York City.

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