Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington (Paperback)
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. A semi-finalist for the National Book Award, 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.
About the Author
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.
"Compelling narrative flow...poised impartiality. . . .Teachout writes in an earthbound style marked by sound scholarship and easy readability. . . . Duke humanizes a man whom history has kept on a pedestal.”
—The New York Times Book Review
"Teachout is a sensitive writer, and one reason his biographies are moving is that he has obviously been giving himself an education in the realities of American racial history as he writes them."
—The New Yorker
"A thorough and fascinating portrait."
"A thoroughly researched homage…Teachout delivers a Duke unlike any we’ve seen in previous biographies…At last, Teachout affirms that music was Ellington’s greatest mistress – and to her, the composer was unrelentingly loyal."
"This well-researched biography is sure to appeal to longtime jazz fans who revel in their memories of Ellington's work and others who may want to learn more about his fascinating life."
"Mr. Teachout adroitly chronicles how Ellington coaxed from his ensemble such timeless hits as ‘Mood Indigo’. . . . evokes the personalities of the ducal band."
"Descriptively rich, the book is not so much a scholarly tome as it is a delightful and entertaining read. Teachout writes with clarity and verve, presenting an astonishing amount of detail in a flowing narrative that brings to life not just Ellington and his music, but much of American culture of the period."
"[A] grand and engrossing biography…Thanks to this frank and sympathetic biography - whose every page is studded with sharp phrases and keen insights - we now seem to know Duke Ellington as well as we ever will or need to."
—San Francisco Chronicle
"The definitive Ellington biography thus far…valuable…[one of] the most important books of 2013."
—The Buffalo News
"Dimensional, thoughtful, and rigorously researched, Duke is an enthralling read from cover to cover."
"Teachout does a first rate job…Teachout’s book is a worthy read. It successfully brings Duke Ellington and his music back into the public consciousness, reaffirming the man’s artistic genius while telling a fascinating story."