Terry Teachout, Duke: A Life Of Duke Ellington (Gotham)
Teachout takes readers as close as it may be possible to come to Ellington’s thought processes about his music, about himself and about other people. A charming deflector of inquiry into his compositional techniques, his opinions and his motivations, Ellington was his own most closely guarded secret. Teachout applies his formidable research and narrative skills to parallel stories: Ellington’s relationships with family, friends, sidemen, managers and the music establishment; and how he developed himself into the originator of works whose mysteries defy musicological analysis. Passages describing recordings are all but guaranteed to send serious listeners to their music collections. Thus, hearing the evidence can make reading this remarkable biography a long and rewarding experience.