Duke Ellington was the greatest jazz composer of the 20th century. His songs—he wrote more than 1500 of them—have been recorded by a who’s who of popular music, from Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, and Tony Bennett to Steely Dan.
The grandson of a slave, he dropped out of high school to become one of the world’s most famous musicians, a showman of incomparable suavity who was as comfortable in Carnegie Hall as in the nightclubs where he honed his style. Many of his compositions, like “Mood Indigo” and “Sophisticated Lady,” remain beloved standards.
In Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington, Terry Teachout, drama critic of The Wall Street Journal, jazz musician, and author of Pops, an acclaimed biography of Louis Armstrong, reveals the many layers of a man as unique and complex as the music he created.