Duke Ellington's America by Harvey G. Cohen

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In mesmeric detail, Cohen charts the course of the “African Stravinsky,” from the 1927-’31 Cotton Club hits (The Mooche, Creole Rhapsody) to his bracing jazz exoticism in the ’60s and ’70s (Far East Suite and The Afro-Eurasian Eclipse).
-National Post arts

Synopsis

Few American artists in any medium have enjoyed the international and lasting cultural impact of Duke Ellington. From jazz standards such as “Mood Indigo” and “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” to his longer, more orchestral suites, to his leadership of the stellar big band he toured and performed with for decades after most big bands folded, Ellington represented a singular, pathbreaking force in music over the course of a half-century. At the same time, as one of the most prominent black public figures in history, Ellington demonstrated leadership on questions of civil rights, equality, and America’s role in the world.



With Duke Ellington’s America, Harvey G. Cohen paints a vivid picture of Ellington’s life and times, taking him from his youth in the black middle class enclave of Washington, D.C., to the heights of worldwide acclaim. Mining extensive archives, many never before available, plus new interviews with Ellington’s friends, family, band members, and business associates, Cohen illuminates his constantly evolving approach to composition, performance, and the music business—as well as issues of race, equality and religion. Ellington’s own voice, meanwhile, animates the book throughout, giving Duke Ellington’s America an intimacy and immediacy unmatched by any previous account.



By far the most thorough and nuanced portrait yet of this towering figure, Duke Ellington’s America highlights Ellington’s importance as a figure in American history as well as in American music.

 

About Harvey G. Cohen

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 Harvey G. Cohen, a cultural historian, is associate professor of cultural and creative industries at King’s College London.
 
Published May 15, 2010 by University of Chicago Press. 704 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Humor & Entertainment, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Duke Ellington's America
All: 2 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 0

Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by John Dugdale on Jan 10 2012

Neither musical analysis nor full-blown biography, this impressive book is perhaps best described as cultural history with a biographical focus.

Read Full Review of Duke Ellington's America | See more reviews from Guardian

National Post arts

Good
Reviewed by Ian Thomson on Aug 20 2010

In mesmeric detail, Cohen charts the course of the “African Stravinsky,” from the 1927-’31 Cotton Club hits (The Mooche, Creole Rhapsody) to his bracing jazz exoticism in the ’60s and ’70s (Far East Suite and The Afro-Eurasian Eclipse).

Read Full Review of Duke Ellington's America | See more reviews from National Post arts

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