No one led a life, led a band, or made music like Duke Ellington. He was one of a kind—beyond category. American music specialist
surveys the moving and inspiring story of a man who overcame racial, social, and musical obstacles to become one of the 20th century’s greatest musicians.
Hasse covers the full sweep of Ellington’s life: his musical influences—including ragtime and dance music—growing up in Washington, D.C., and how he negotiated the city’s strict color line. Also, his breakthrough at Harlem’s Cotton Club; his way of personalizing his compositions for the individual gifts of his players; and his turn to greater spirituality as he got older, which prompted him to compose three Sacred Concerts.
Hear the inside story of how the Smithsonian acquired Ellington’s vast archive, including 100,000 pages of unpublished music—a collection that, like the maestro himself, is a national treasure. Best of all, see and hear rare film footage of Ellington performing in all stages of his career, including such classics as “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing),” “Take the ‘A’ Train,” “Don’t Get Around Much Any More,” “Sophisticated Ladies,” “Mood Indigo,” and “Dancers in Love.” And take a look at his film roles in