Listen to Interview with Harvey Cohen, Author of Duke Ellington’s America
Harvey Cohen, author of Duke Ellington’s America, appeared on the August 8 edition of KAZI Book Review on KAZI 88.7 FM. To listen to the interview click here: Harvey Cohen Interview.
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.
With Duke Ellington’s America, Harvey G. Cohen paints a vivid picture of Ellington’s life and times, taking him from his youth in the black middle class enclave of Washington, D.C., to the heights of worldwide acclaim. Mining extensive archives, many never before available, plus new interviews with Ellington’s friends, family, band members, and business associates, Cohen illuminates his constantly evolving approach to composition, performance, and the music business—as well as issues of race, equality and religion. Ellington’s own voice, meanwhile, animates the book throughout, giving Duke Ellington’s America an intimacy and immediacy unmatched by any previous account.
By far the most thorough and nuanced portrait yet of this towering figure, Duke Ellington’s America highlights Ellington’s importance as a figure in American history as well as in American music.
Dr. Harvey Cohen, a cultural and political historian, is a lecturer in cultural and creative industries at the Centre for Culture, Media and Creative Industries Research at King’s College London, in United Kingdom. Cohen’s work has appeared in the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, The Independent (UK), Metro International (Sweden and Denmark), at the London Jazz Festival, and on numerous BBC radio and TV networks, as well as SkyNews. He is on the advisory group of the Cheltenham Jazz Festival in the United Kingdom. He is also a musician and songwriter, and hosted the weekly college radio show “Better Git It In Your Soul” for a decade at the University of Maryland.