Tuesday, February 21, 2012

David Schiff's "The Ellington Century"

David Alan Schiff is R.P. Wollenberg Professor of Music at Reed College. He is a composer, journalist whose articles have appeared in publications including the New York Times and the Atlantic, and the author of George Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue and The Music of Elliot Carter.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Ellington Century, and reported the following:
Page 99 of The Ellington Century is in the chapter called "Prelude to a Kiss": Melody. People often forget that Ellington, along with Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, George Gershwin, Richard Rodgers, Cole Porter and Harold Arlen, was one of the great composers of American popular song. Their collective work, now called the Great American Songbook, mirrored the experiences of modern life in tunes and lyrics that traveled around the world. The jazz critic Gary Giddins once pointed out that Ellington had produced as many great songs as Kern, even though song writing was a sideline for him, since most of his compositions were instrumentals. You can hear most of the Ellington songbook, from "Sophisticated Lady" to "Satin Doll" on Ella Fitzgerald's classic album. Whether they are romantic, like "Prelude to a Kiss", bluesy, like "I Got it Bad and That Ain't Good" or spiritual like "Come Sunday" and "Heaven," they all bear the unmistakeable stamp of the Ellington style.
Learn more about the book and author at David Schiff's website and the University of California Press.

My Book, the Movie: The Ellington Century.

--Marshal Zeringue