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Beyond Category: The Life And Genius Of Duke Ellington
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Beyond Category: The Life And Genius Of Duke Ellington

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  48 ratings  ·  7 reviews
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 Smithsonian Institution, recounts his remarkable career: his childhood in Washington, D.C., and his musical apprenticeship in Harlem; his long engagement at the Cotton Club; the challen ...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published March 22nd 1995 by Da Capo Press (first published October 14th 1993)
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The book Beyond Category: The Life and Genius Of Duke Ellington by John Hasse is most definitely a fantastic book. Beyond Category is about the full life, and achievements of Duke Ellington in great detail. John Hasse goes into great explanation about the beginning, middle, and end of "The Great Duke's" Life and ties it into why, and how he did what he did. There was much detail about Duke Ellington growing up in Washington D.C., including information about his mother being very lucky to have gr ...more
Oct 08, 2007 Leslie added it
Recommends it for: People who dig music, African American history, culture, and jazz
Shelves: music, biography
Ok, so this was initially a bit of a fluff book--it lightly described Duke Ellington's life without going into the nitty gritty of relationships but deeper into the book it starts to examine Duke Ellington's politics, his influence on early recording technology, the music industry as well as the development of jazz as a legitimate American art form. Particularly of interest are photos which lend to the mood of Ellington's emphasis on appearance. The man was a great dresser and a lady's man. But ...more
Katherine Pena
Duke elington is one of my favorite musicians of all time, the book is almost 500 pages but trust me, it is a great read :)
I would have preferred to give this a 2.5, but choosing between 2 and 3, I choose 3 stars simply because the book is extremely helpful and does what is intended. The book does a very good job of chronicling his band and bandmembers over the years, although towards the end of the book is almost exclusively focused on that. I have some issues with Hasse's writing approach, and the book seemed flawed to me in a few ways.

(1) He has a tendency to state certain conclusions he makes REPEATEDLY througho
Andrew Kopp
Absolutely wonderful history of not just a musician, but of jazz itself. I highly recommend listening to the tracks listed at the end of each chapter. (Most can be found on YouTube). The listening gives a very good sense of the style of any given time. They also give a wonderful overreaching arch of Duke Ellingtons progression and maturation through music.
Basic but solid Ellington bio. The primary focus is how Ellington balanced artistic ambitions with commercial survival over the course of his career. Discussion of the music as music is limited, but the listening suggestions at the end of each chapter are helpful.

A solid overview and a fine appreciation-- even if it sacrifices depth for breadth, especially where Duke's recordings, and his relationship with Strayhorn, are concerned.
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