DUKE: A Life of Duke EllingtonTERRY TEACHOUT Book Number: 86210 Product format: Hardback
Edward Kennedy 'Duke' Ellington was the greatest jazz composer of the 20th century. An impenetrably enigmatic personality, no one not even his closest friends claim to understand him. The grandson of a slave, Ellington 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 night clubs where he honed his style. He wrote some 1,700 compositions and 'Mood Indigo' and 'Sophisticated Lady' remain beloved standards. He sought inspiration in an endless string of transient lovers, always hiding his inner self behind a smiling mask of flowery language and ironic charm. His biographer draws on unpublished private papers, musical manuscripts, scrapbooks and transcripts of breathtakingly frank interviews to uncover new facts and place Ellington in the context of the Harlem Renaissance and his influence on art and culture. Famously he claimed that 'Harlem Air-Shaft' which he recorded in 1940 was a musical depiction of the sounds of black apartment life: "You hear fights, you smell dinner, you hear people making love. You hear intimate gossip floating down. You hear the radio. An Air-Shaft is one great big loud speaker." A quotable tale, but a fluent lie. An utterly riveting biography, witty and delightful, just as the subject. 484pp, illus. A specially imported rare 2013 US first edition.
Published price: $30
Bibliophile price: £7.00