Beyond Category: The Life and Genius of Duke Ellington

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Da Capo Press, 1995 - Biography & Autobiography - 479 pages
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No one led a band like Duke Ellington, no one led a life like Duke Ellington, and no one wrote music like Duke Ellington: he was one of a kind, beyond category. One of the twentieth century's greatest artists, Ellington led a fascinating life. Despite this, there have been few major biographies and none that adequately assesses his musical achievement. This is the first biography to draw on the thousands of pages of scrapbooks, letters, business records, musical manuscripts, and photographs in the Duke Ellington archives at the Smithsonian Institution. In Beyond Category, John Edward Hasse has written a life story of great depth and beauty. Ellington was acclaimed in his lifetime as a bandleader, but Hasse explores the source of Duke's genius in his skill as a composer and musical 'problem-solver.' Unlike other great bandleaders, Ellington personally created most of the music played by his orchestra. With characteristic musical sensitivity, he wrote pieces that were designed for specific players, many of whom are discussed in this book. In addition, in a career spanning five decades, Ellington overcame one racial barrier after another and added hundreds of musical treasures to our national heritage. Hasse offers new insights into Ellington's personality and his business affairs, and provides a new assessment of Ellington's ambitiousness (including his efforts to meet a series of American Presidents) and brilliance at taking individuality to an artistic zenith. This is a thorough, balanced, yet admiring portrait of Ellington and his enormous achievement. In this book, Hasse also guides both the novice and the devoted fan through the bewildering array of Ellington recordings, selectingand commenting on the most essential ones from each period of Ellington's career.
 

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Beyond category: the life and genius of Duke Ellington

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Hasse, curator of American Music at the Smithsonian Institution, charts the musical career of jazz giant Edward Kennedy "Duke'' Ellington (1899-1974). Using previously unavailable family papers now ... Read full review

Contents

PREFACE
136
STARTJI6 A CAREER 111121
324
SEEKING SPECIAL SIKHS 112127 il
412
TAKIIfi THE R0A8 111115
421
swinging to a iifferent ikdmiei isiiii
434
RENEWING CAREER III CREATIVITY IS5M5
455
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About the author (1995)

Music historian, musician, award-winning author and record producer, John Edward Hasse has served as curator of American music at the Smithsonian Institution. He is the editor of Ragtime: Its History, Composers and Music, and coeditor of Discourse in Ethnomusicology.

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