Few American artists in any medium have enjoyed the international and lasting cultural impact of Duke Ellington. From jazz standards such as "Mood Indigo" and "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," to his longer, more orchestral suites, to his leadership of the stellar big band he toured and performed with for decades after most big bands folded, Ellington represented a singular, path-breaking force in music over the course of a half century. At the same time, as one of the most prominent black public figures in history, Ellington demonstrated leadership on questions of civil rights, equality, and America's role in the world. Drawing on extensive research and a wealth of new interviews, "Duke Ellington's America" paints a vivid portrait of the life and times of this towering figure, taking him from his youth in the black middle-class enclave of Washington, DC, to the heights of worldwide acclaim.
Harvey G. Cohen, a cultural historian, is associate professor of cultural and creative industries at King's College London.