Steven Brower & Mercedes Ellington: Duke Ellington: An American Composer and Icon (Rizzoli). 224 pages. $35.48
The scores of photos, illustrations and reproductions of documents make this book a valuable supplement to the growing stack of Ellington biographies: Bennett’s watercolor painting of Ellington, the 10-piece 1920s band looking bemusedly at the camera, Ellington peering over the feathered headdresses of Cotton Club chorus girls, President Eisenhower’s note of appreciation, Duke playing a piano duet with actor Jimmy Stewart. Some material is seen for the first time. In the essays, Mercedes Ellington’s remembrance of her relationship with her grandfather illuminates the fragmented nature of his personal life. Co-author Brower contributes an invaluable 16-page timeline that traces the high points of Ellington’s life and career. Quincy Jones, Tony Bennett, Dan Morgenstern, Jon Batiste and Dave Brubeck discuss what Ellington means to them. Lack of IDs for many photos is a flaw that should be fixed before the next print run.