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One of the twentieth century's greatest composers, Duke Ellington (1899--1974) led a fascinating life. Beyond Category, the first biography to draw on the vast Duke Ellington archives at the Smithsonian Institution, recounts his remarkable career: his childhood in Washington, D.C., and his musical apprenticeship in Harlem; his long engagement at the Cotton Club; the challenging years of the depression; his tours to Europe and into America's deep South, where he helped lower racial barriers; the postwar years when television and bebop threatened to eclipse the big bands; Ellington's own triumphant comeback at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival; his collaborations with Billy Strayhorn, Johnny Hodges, and Ella Fitzgerald; as well as five decades of hits and masterpieces that constantly broke new ground.The art of Duke Ellington was a musical expression of the African-American experience, in all its pain, pride, and glory. He composed his music as he composed his life--with flair, passion, and individuality--and no book reveals the man and his artistic evolution more brilliantly than Beyond Category.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780306806148
ISBN-10: 0306806142
Format: Paperback
(229mm x 152mm x 30mm)
Pages: 480
Imprint: Da Capo Press Inc
Publisher: The Perseus Books Group
Publish Date: 1-Mar-1995
Country of Publication: United States

Reviews

US Kirkus Review » Essential biographical guide to composer/bandleader Duke Ellington's music, analyzing its development year by year with sidebar essays on the best recordings. Hasse (Curator of American Music/Smithsonian Institution) relates Ellington's life largely as it ties in with the music. Edward Kennedy Ellington (1899-1974) was born to - and forever worshipped - the extremely beautiful, light-skinned Daisy Ellington, a primly refined Washingtonian, and to James Edward Ellington, once butler to a prominent doctor and at times caterer to events at the White House, who treated Daisy as a treasure, raised his family as if a millionaire, and dressed his son like a duke from his earliest years. Ellington said later, about his music, that "my strongest influences, my inspirations, were all Negro" - but, as a child, sometimes the beauty of his mother's piano-playing caused him to burst into tears, and clearly the grain of his spirit came from his parents. Ellington forever broke new ground, never looked back or dwelled on his earlier music. Many - Hasse included - think him America's greatest composer, though the input of his sidemen and of fellow composer Billy Strayhorn must also be weighed in his accomplishments, from jungle music to the late cantatas. The 119 photos interspersed throughout the text boost immensely the rich atmosphere of Ellington's venues, including The Cotton Club and the tours that became the band's mainstay. Hasse follows closely the growth of the band and its orchestrations of its finest pieces - "Creole Love Call," "Mood Indigo," "Sophisticated Lady," etc. - and their varied recordings over the decades. Brilliantly written. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - John Edward Hasse

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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