"The analyses of both Ellington's music and his enigmatic personality are delineated with rare insight."--Leonard Feather, author of The Encyclopedia of Jazz
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.
Foreword by Wynton Marsalis