The Jazzmen: How Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Count Basie Transformed America

Written by:
Larry Tye
Narrated by:
Dominic Hoffman

Unabridged Audiobook

Ratings
Book
Narrator
Release Date
May 2024
Duration
16 hours 44 minutes
Summary
From the New York Times bestselling author of Satchel and Bobby Kennedy, a sweeping and spellbinding portrait of the longtime kings of jazz—Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Count Basie—who, born within a few years of one another, overcame racist exclusion and violence to become the most popular entertainers on the planet.

This is the story of three revolutionary American musicians, the maestro jazzmen who orchestrated the chords that throb at the soul of twentieth-century America.


Duke Ellington, the grandson of slaves who was christened Edward Kennedy Ellington, was a man whose story is as layered and nuanced as his name suggests and whose music transcended category.
Louis Daniel Armstrong was born in a New Orleans slum so tough it was called The Battlefield and, at age seven, got his first musical instrument, a ten-cent tin horn that drew buyers to his rag-peddling wagon and set him on the road to elevating jazz into a pulsating force for spontaneity and freedom.
William James Basie, too, grew up in a world unfamiliar to white fans—the son of a coachman and laundress who dreamed of escaping every time the traveling carnival swept into town, and who finally engineered his getaway with help from Fats Waller.

What is far less known about these groundbreakers is that they were bound not just by their music or even the discrimination that they, like nearly all Black performers of their day, routinely encountered. Each defied and ultimately overcame racial boundaries by opening America’s eyes and souls to the magnificence of their music. In the process they wrote the soundtrack for the civil rights movement.

Based on more than 250 interviews, this exhaustively researched book brings alive the history of Black America in the early-to-mid 1900s through the singular lens of the country’s most gifted, engaging, and enduring African-American musicians.

Supplemental enhancement PDF accompanies the audiobook.
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