The author of Louis Armstrong: An American Success Story tells another musical tale with a strong, clear sense of the field. Collier chronicles the early years of Edward Kennedy Ellington, who was pampered and made to feel elite--like his nickname. Although he came to music rather late, Ellington's dignity, willingness to take risks and sense for organization enabled him to assemble and keep together one of music's longest-lasting bands. In language rich with the textures of jazz itself, Collier explains how jazz functions (e.g., through layering), and uses Ellington's personality to demonstrate strengths and weaknesses in his music. Probably appealing most to jazz aficionados, this biography flavorfully examines the period, the possibilities and limitations for blacks, the ebb and flow of band members and Ellington's many contributions--including being partly responsible for ending Stepin Fetchit routines. Readers will easily understand how the youngster who kept ``practicing at being famous'' became so worthy of that adjective. Ages 10-14. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/1991 Release date: 09/01/1991 Genre: Children's
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