Parade, the Sunday newspaper supplement that I’ve been reading since I was a little boy, ran a feature this weekend called “3 Must-Reads for Fall” in which it listed Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington alongside Wally Lamb’s We Are Water and Daniel Woodrell’s The Maid’s Version:
Terry Teachout, author of an acclaimed Louis Armstrong bio, explores the life of Duke Ellington, the visionary artist, charismatic ladies’ man, and African-American trailblazer who became the 20th century’s most influential jazz composer.
I wish my mother, who was a devout reader of Parade, had lived to see that.
In addition to the Parade piece, two important newspaper reviews appeared over the weekend. Bill Desowitz called Duke “thorough and fascinating” in USA Today, while Ted Gioia, the noted jazz critic and scholar, wrote about it in greater detail for the Dallas News:
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….Ellington was a man who worked hard over decades to present a sanitized, polished front to the public. Even his autobiography, Music Is My Mistress, stands out for how little it reveals about the author. Teachout tears through this facade and offers the most penetrating, bluntly honest account to date of Ellington’s life.
Finally, the Robson Press just announced that the British edition of Duke will be published on November 4. It will have a slightly different title–Duke: The Life of Duke Ellington–and a newly designed dust jacket. Here’s what it looks like:
As you can see, the portrait of Ellington that Gotham Books used for the front cover of the American edition has been reproduced on the back cover of the British edition. (The interior design of both books is identical.)
All in all, I’d say we’re off to a pretty good start.
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In case you missed the original announcement, I’ll be chatting about Duke with jazz blogger Marc Myers at the Upper East Side Barnes & Noble tonight at seven p.m. For more information, go here.