“…sleeping three hours a night, he scored the Frank Sinatra film Assault on a Queen, performed concerts in Wichita, Little Rock, and San Francisco, recorded the Sinatra score in Los Angeles while playing a three-night gig at Disneyland, then left the morning after the show for a two-week tour of Japan, all while carrying on an incandescent social life.”
– Geoffrey O’Brien recounting one week in the life of a sixty-seven year old Edward “Duke” Ellington in his unpacking of Harvey G. Cohen’s Duke Ellington’s America in the latest issue of the New York Review of Books.
The book and its review discuss at length how Ellington’s frantic go-getting spawned an almost baffling ability to defy both racial and musical stereotypes while enjoying critical acclaim and commercial popularity for over half a century. But for a man beloved by generations of listeners, his fellow musicians, and the friends, family, and bandmates he supported financially, he was often purposefully distant.
“I’m a hotel man,” Ellington said. “I like being alone, you know. I don’t know why.”