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Duke Ellington and His World Hardcover – 11 May 2001

1.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 542 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; First Edition edition (11 May 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 041593012X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415930123
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 15.9 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,113,001 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'An evocative and engrossing portrait of Ellington and Ellingtonia - one of the best available.' -- The Economist

'An informative look at one of the America's greatest musical figures.' -- Library Journal

'Jazz buffs will appreciate Lawrence's solid knowledge of the art form's history and key participants.' -- Kirkis Reviews

'The definitive biography of Duke that includes a musician's analysis of his entire musical development.' -- Nat Hentoff, jazz critic and author

'The remarkable life of Duke Ellington ... an excellent new biography of a jazz legend.' -- The Economist

About the Author

A. H. Lawrence was a professional jazz trombonist from 1944-48, playing with the bands of Hot Lips Page, Benny Carter, and Luis Russell. Through Russell, he met and befriended Ellington and remained friends with him throughout his life. Lawrence served as a consultant to the Smithsonian Institution for the exhibit, Jazz in Paris 1915-40. He lives in Cambridge, MA.

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Don't buy it until you have googled "depanorama stratemann lasker lawrence routledge" and read it thoroughly. I did and, though shocked, I still went ahead and bought it (for £1.60 plus p&p) for the excellent reproductions of the period photographs.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x91b22180) out of 5 stars 8 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
By bukhtan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I found this book reasonably entertaining, approaching, you might say "attacking", Duke Ellington from a psychologizing angle. Interesting. Few people ever really knew Ellington, and the ones who did didn't talk much about him, at least not in any revealing way. And the man was clearly an affable narcissist, with a tendency to be passively cruel to band members and some family members. If this personality hadn't existed, Thomas Mann would have invented him, with a little help from Freud. And of course there's nothing wrong with taking a figure so frequently deified down a couple of pegs. So the author's tack seemed, for the nonce, acceptable.

Unfortunately, I noticed quite a few oddities, in dates, attribution of composer credit, and elsewhere. I also wondered how this guy could have interviewed all these old timers, this late in the era. And I'd never heard of a trombonist of this name who played with Benny Carter, Luis Russell etc. in the Forties. And though I'm a thorough Ellington fan and personal admirer, I'm no scholar. So I had to wait till I stumbled on the "brief" by Steven Lasker, who is a scholar, to realize what a hoax this book is. Stick "depanorama stratemann lasker lawrence routledge" into the google search engine. You'll get a issue of the Duke Ellington Music Society bulletin from late 2001. Read it before you buy this book.

Routledge didn't originate the contract on this book. They bought it from some other outfit. Routledge used to be a standard issue publisher of unreadable academic jabber of the paramarxist school, parasitizing on English universities. In the last few years they've tried to break into the American popular market. Hence opportunistic stuff like this.

There's a Duke Ellington industry out there, appealing to scholars, musicologists and plain enthusiasts of good music. So there are bogus reissues on CD and preposterous books like this. The same thing happens with Mark Twain; you come to expect it. But damn Routledge for getting involved in the seamy side of it as they scramble to find a place in the dwindling high end market.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8fc87a50) out of 5 stars Mighty subject through a very narrow lens 8 May 2004
By J-Rock - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Duke Ellington is such a towering subject that any book about him contains some items of interest. This is the first full length biography I've read on Ellington, although I did take a course with Mark Tucker, author of "The Ellington Reader" in college. This book is written by a psychologist and a musician of the 1940s, not a researcher, and the previous reviewers have criticized him for a lack of research. Lawrence relies heavily on Sonny Greer and Mercer Ellington as interview subjects and there may be the value in skimming through this biography. As a drummer, the story of how Greer got his magnificent drum kit that you see in all of the 30s and 40s footage of the Ellington brought me a smile. Stories like this lead me to believe that Lawrence would have been better served facilitating a memoir of Sonny Greer and some of his musical contacts [he admits that he was trying to do this until Hentoff's "Hear me Talkin' to Ya came out in his introduction] than writing a flawed biography of Ellington, a towering figure who deserves a thorough scholarly biography like the one that Lewis Porter did for John Coltrane.
The book has two other big flaws. First, the 50s and 60s are really quickly treated and he will go through a year of the band's life in a couple of pages. I personally was first drawn to Ellington's music through this musically rich period and while the creation of some of Ellington's key suites like the Far East Suite is mentioned, I would have liked a better sense of what life in the band was like at this time.
The biggest problem, here, however, is that Lawrence the psychologist intervenes at times and leaves the reader with a sour taste in his mouth. I do not need speculation on the psychological nature and "narcissistic" elements of Ellington's personality. I'd rather get detailed research as to what happened in his personal life from varied sources and allow me, the intelligent reader, to draw my own conclusions. The fact that the last paragraph of the book concludes with a statement of his "profound narcissism" and how Ellington just wanted "everybody in the palm of my hand", diminishes the ultimate musical and spiritual legacy that Ellington left behind.
Right now, I don't see a major full length biography of Ellington on the market that I can completely endorse. This book has some value as a quick, though flawed, overview of the band while introducing members like the great Sonny Greer.
2 stars.
--SD
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x90534174) out of 5 stars Travesty In Blue 4 May 2001
By Andrew Homzy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
A. H. Lawrence has written a book filled with errors on almost every page. Lawrence's lack of scholarship will seriously call into question the lack of Routledge's editorial integrity if not its motives - unless the publisher decides to recall the product.
If you really want to see this book, wait until it is remaindered or piled on the "free" table - that should be soon.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x902b5180) out of 5 stars Shame on Routledge 8 May 2001
By Ralph Jungheim - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This abysmally inaccurate "biography" should never have been published. It is obvious that neither Routledge nor A.H. Lawrence had any reverence for the facts, despite the liberal use of plagarized passages from authoritative works. There are many books on Ellington that are well worth having. Not this one.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8fa1e2ac) out of 5 stars Hopelessly bad 4 May 2001
By Peter A. MacHare - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book is so filled with factual errors (wrong dates, misspellings of names, etc.) that it is impossible to take seriously. Please don't waste your money.
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