Duke Ellington and His World
Routledge – 2003 – 542 pages
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.
"An account not only of a man, but of an era." -- Esquire
"The heart of this volume is the first-hand remembrances of the Duke, affectionate but frank, amplified by the author's scrupulous research and well-informed musical judgments. The result is an evocative and engrossing portrait of Ellington and Ellingtonia - one of the best available." -- The Economist
"It is at such moments that the reader really feels Mr Lawrence's thorough grasp of Ellington's world." -- The Economist
"Helps enlarge our understanding of the collaboration that bound Ellington and his musicians." -- The New York Times Book Review
"Of all the books on Duke Ellington, including the few that greatly illuminated his life and music, there is now the definitive biography of Duke that includes a musician's analysis of his entire musical development." -- Nat Hentoff, jazz critic and author
"An informative look at one of America's greatest musical figures." -- Library Journal
"Jazz buffs will appreciate Lawrence's solid knowledge of the art form's history and key participants." -- Kirkus Reviews
"The best parts contain insights and intriguing anecdotes about the man many regard as America's greatest composer. It traces his development and the forces that shaped him as an artist and sheds light on the dynamics, politics and the orchestra members who became a surrogate extended family…What emerges is a thoroughly intriguing narrative about a complex and intriguing figure who seemed to touch the lives of all around him." -- Leon Gettler
"result is an evocative and engrossing portrait of Ellington."
"and Ellingtonia-one of the best available."
"the Duke, affectionate but frank, amplified by the author's."
"scrupulous research and well-informed musical judgments. The."
A. H. Lawrence was a professional jazz trombonist from 1944-48, playing with the bands of Hot Lips Page, Benny Carter, and Luis Russell. Through Russell, he met and befriended Ellington and remained friends with him throughout his life. Lawrence served as a consultant to the Smithsonian Institution for the exhibit, Jazz in Paris 1915-40. He lives in Cambridge, MA.