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I bought this book after coming across John Shaefer's interview with the author on WNYC. In the interview, Mr. James' analysis of Ellington's music was illustrated with audio clips. What a missed opportunity to do this in the audiobook. All that would be needed would be a few bars of each piece and one's understanding of the analysis would be remarkably enhanced. Now I'm aware that radio stations have a blanket license to do anything they want with music and that an audiobook would have to separately license each song. I suspect, however, that the owner of Ellington's recorded works could be persuaded that the value of this library would grow if people really knew his work.
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What did you love best about Duke?
I appreciated Ellington's long career being put in a historical context. The watershed compositions were critically discussed. His relationships with his managers, sidemen, and various recording companies were of interest. His dealing with women and family gave a revealing look into the man, not just the composer/performer.
What other book might you compare Duke to and why?
If you liked the author's autobiography of Louis Armstrong, "Pops", you'll enjoy this latest effort.
What about Peter Francis James’s performance did you like?
Wonderful reading. While not exactly imitating Ellington's voice, the reader does a marvelous job of conveying the Duke's self-promoting erudite air of slickness and urbanity. You get the feeling that you're actually hearing Ellington speak.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
The length precluded listening to it one sitting, but I've already listened to it twice.
Any additional comments?
I confess to being a huge Terry Teachout fan. When I receive my monthly issue of "Commentary" magazine, his column is always the first thing I read.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful