||"The ultimate in art is self-expression, not escape."-Duke Ellington In this fascinating portrait of one of America's greatest musical legends, longtime friend and jazz historian Stanley Dance recounts the life of the incomparable Duke Ellington in his own words and in the words of the artists who played along with him: longtime co-composer Billy Strayhorn, saxophonists Johnny Hodges and Ben Webster, trumpeters Cootie Williams and Clark Terry, drummer Sonny Greer, vocalist Alice Babs, and organist Wild Bill Davis, among many others. There are also first-hand accounts of Ellington's world tours, performances in churches and the White House, interviews and public appearances, and a complete discography and chronology. The result is a timeless chronicle of the long and extraordinary career of a music master."The truest and most intimate portrait of the great Ellington that we have."-Whitney Balliett
||This fascinating collection of memories from Duke Ellington's colleagues and fellow musicians draws on respected jazz writer Stanley Dance's interviews with such legends as songwriter Billy Strayhorn, saxophonists Johnny Hodges and Ben Webster, and longtime drummer Sonny Greer, as well as the great bandleader himself, to paint an indelible portrait of a towering figure of 20th century jazz. Greer recalls his early days with the Duke in Prohibition-era Washington, when bootleggers would heap banknotes onto a pool table and tell the musicians to help themselves. Strayhorn explains his writing process, tailoring his work to the strengths of Ellington's individual musicians. Ellington himself attempts to explain to the uninitiated his distaste for pigeonholing jazz into categories, and Sam Woodyard, who took over the Ellington band drum stool when Greer retired, is fascinating about the drummer's role in the band. Though each musician's tale is unique, they all add up to a remarkable composite overview of one of the 20th-century's greatest big bands, as well as its leader.