In their 28 October issue, the New York Review of Books devoted 4,000 words to the book, including:
“Of many artists it can be said that deep cultural currents can be read through their work; much rarer are those who, like Ellington, worked so powerfully and subtly on those currents as to transform them…In a close reading of the details that Cohen amasses, Ellington emerges as a prophetic figure imposing himself almost by stealth, using all the skills of an entertainer and a consummate diplomat. He lived at the highest energy level every day, and despite his dread of being the subject of a biography (a life written down could only be a life approaching its end) left such abundant traces of himself that Cohen’s six hundred pages can be little more than an abbreviated résumé.”
The full review can be found here.
DownBeat named the book an Editor’s Pick, commenting that “This extensive study of Duke Ellington takes a different, and often much deeper, approach than every other book on the composing/bandleading giant…Cohen’s writing remains vivid and engaging throughout the hefty 600 pages.” Here’s the website with the rest of the review.
Not available online is a review from the 14 October issue of the New Republic, which calls Duke Ellington’s America an “impressive biography.” And lastly, in the October issue of Jazzwise magazine, the premiere jazz magazine in the UK, music historian Brian Priestley wrote: “Another door-stopper of a book that’s worth writing about and, even more so, reading…Cohen doesn’t draw attention to his innovatory research, except via voluminous endnotes…The research achievement of this author, and his readability, are far too impressive not to merit wholesale recommendation.”