Biographer Terry Teachout Looks at the Enigma That Was Jazz Genius Duke Ellington

For Immediate Release:
November 11, 2013
Contact: Steven Woolfolk
Biographer Terry Teachout Looks at the Enigma That Was Jazz Genius Duke Ellington

Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington was the greatest jazz composer of the 20th century - and an impenetrably enigmatic personality whom no one, not even his closest friends, claimed to understand.

Biographer Terry Teachout sheds new light on this creative genius in a discussion of his new book Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington on Wednesday, November 20, 2013, at 6:30 p.m. at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.

The grandson of a slave, Ellington dropped out of high school to become one of the world's most famous musicians, a showman of incomparable suavity who was as comfortable in Carnegie Hall as in the nightclubs where he honed his style. He wrote 1,500 songs, many of which ("Mood Indigo," "Sophisticated Lady") remain beloved standards.

Throughout his life, Ellington sought inspiration in an endless string of transient lovers, concealing his inner self behind a smiling mask of flowery language and ironic charm.

Teachout, a Kansas City resident from 1975 to 1983, is the author of Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong; The Skeptic: A Life of H.L. Mencken; and the play Satchmo at the Waldorf. For The Wall Street Journal, he is drama critic and the author of "Sightings," a column about the arts in America. He is the critic-at-large at Commentary, and writes the online blog About Last Night.

Admission is free. A 6 p.m. reception precedes the event. Free parking is available in the Library District parking garage at 10th & Baltimore.  RSVP at or call 816.701.3407.

Kansas City Public Library Beta