Based on lengthy interviews with Ellington's bandmates, family, and friends, Duke Ellington and His World offers a fresh look at this legendary composer. The first biography of the composer written by a fellow musician and African-American, the book traces Ellington's life and career in terms of the social, cultural, political, and economic realities of his times. Beginning with his birth in Washington, DC, through his first bands and work at the legendary Cotton Club, to his final great extended compositions, this book gives a thorough introduction to Ellington's music and how it was made. It also illuminates his personal life because, for Ellington, music was his life and his life was a constant inspiration for music. When A. H. Lawrence was a young trombone player in the '40s, he met Ellington and befriended the elder musician. From that point forward, he closely followed Ellington's career. Because of his deep love for Ellington's music, he began interviewing many of the stars of Ellington's early bands, hoping to capture from them, before they passed away, their memories and insights. Drawing on these interviews with legendary musicians-including many who worked with Ellington from his earliest days, such as drummer Sonny Greer, who played with Ellington's first bands in the '20s and who continued in his bands through the early '50s-the book offers a rounded and human portrait of the great composer and musician. Ellington's son Mercer was particularly forthcoming, offering new information about his childhood and experiences working with his father. The insights into the family that he shared have not previously been published. The result is a thorough biography that offers unique insights into Ellington: the man and his music. This fresh and balanced portrayal will undoubtedly add to our understanding of one of America's greatest artists and bring renewed attention to his distinguished body of work.
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