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The Genius Of Duke Ellington

The genius of Duke Ellington. Terry Teachout joins us on the great “Aristocrat of Jazz.”

Composer and bandleader Duke Ellington is photographed playing the piano in this undated photo. (AP)

Composer and bandleader Duke Ellington is photographed playing the piano in this undated photo. (AP)

Duke Ellington had a touch so elegant and a band so great, he raised the roof on American jazz and invited in multitudes.  From the Cotton Club to Carnegie Hall, he could set a mood indigo or set the hall hopping.  Miles Davis said all musicians should get down on their knees and thank Duke Ellington.  A new biography gets inside the music and behind the suave demeanor to the great showman and enigmatic man.  Up next On Point:  exploring Duke Ellington.

— Tom Ashbrook

Guest

Terry Teachout, critic, playwright, blogger and biographer, drama critic for The Wall Street Journal and critic-at-large of Commentary. Author of, “Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington,” “Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong” and “All in the Dances: A Brief Life of George Balanchine.” (@TerryTeachout)

From Tom’s Reading List

USA Today: ‘Duke’ reveals the music behind Ellington — “Ellington wasn’t formally trained or even well-versed in classical music, so he found it difficult to write hummable tunes or structurally develop themes with any complexity. But he could meld together disparate musical fragments from his band members’ solo performances, mastering a ‘mosaic method of composition.’ While not a flagrant plagiarist, Ellington still took most of the credit.”

Dallas Morning News: Book review: ‘Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington,’ by Terry Teachout — “Teachout probes deeply into Ellington’s offstage associations. Affairs and flings long hidden from view are laid out for our inspection, as well as Ellington’s quarrels and feuds. His complex, often unconventional relationship with his family is also presented in all its quirkiness. Where other biographers have held back, often due to personal loyalty to Ellington, Teachout digs in all the deeper.”

Read An Excerpt of “Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington” By Terry Teachout

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