"One of the twentieth century's greatest composers, Duke Ellington (1899–1974) led a fascinating life. Beyond Category, the first biography to draw on the vast Duke Ellington archives at the Smithsonia"
'He captured the sounds of trains, planes, babies, and lions and tigers and bears with his orchestra,' says trumpeter Marsalis in his poetic tribute to the great jazz composer and performer, Edward Kennedy 'Duke' Ellington (1899-1974). Hasse, curator of American music at the Smithsonian Institution, is similarly comprehensive in cataloging the minutiae -- meaningful and otherwise -- of Ellington's illustrious life and career. Drawing on previously untapped documents made available by Mercer Ellington's donation of his father's archives to the National Museum of American History, Hasse traces the Duke's development from his childhood in Washington, D.C., to New York City's Cotton Club to a career that took him on a seemingly endless tour through North America, Europe and the Near East playing with the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie and John Coltrane. To help those who want to hear the achievement, Hasse ends each chapter with the 'Essential Ellington' recordings for the years covered in that chapter. Accompanied by 119 photographs from the Ellington archives, Hasse has written a delightful and finely detailed biography of an American legend at work.