Though Terry Teachout maintains the position of “drama critic” at the Wall Street Journal, Teachout stands out more in our mind as the biographer behind arguably the best book about Louis Armstrong in 2009’s Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong and it looks like he’s tackling another giant of jazz this month with his October 17th release, Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington. Over the weekend Teachout adapted an excerpt from the book and published it in the Wall Street Journal for our reading pleasure.

Terry Teachout

Teachout writes:

“Ellington’s work had a near-pictorial quality that bore little resemblance to the extroverted dance tunes played by most other jazzmen in the 1920s. His 1,700-odd compositions included musical portraits of pretty women, tap-dancing comedians, express trains, Shakespearean characters and the unsung heroes of his long-despised race, and he made it sound as if writing them were easy. ‘I just watch people and observe life,’ he said, ‘and then I write about them…'”

Duke Ellington, King of Jazz—Wall Street Journal

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Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington

Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong


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