Reviews from academic publications are still coming in for CMCI’s own Dr Harvey G. Cohen for his book Duke Ellington’s America (University of Chicago Press, 2010), already named one of the best books of the year by the Washington Post and a cover story in the Times Literary Supplement, as well as featured numerous times on the BBC and National Public Radio in the United States. Here is most of the first paragraph from the review offered in the latest issue of American Music, probably the premiere American academic journal in the field of music:
This study of Duke Ellington is nothing short of a monumental achievement, as Harvey G. Cohen takes the reader on a multilayered exploration of Ellington and his relationship to American culture that is both perceptive and intriguing. Drawing upon voluminous archival materials, copious interviews with family, friends, band members, and associates, as well as standard sources on Ellington, jazz history, American music, and American history, Cohen provides deep and thoughtful contextualization throughout in the manner anthropologist Clifford Geertz has called ‘thick description.’ Moreover, this book is unique in its extensive use of business records, U.S. Department of State records, and the inclusion of Ellington’s own voice ‘probably more than in any other work’ (2). Indeed, there is such a wealth of information, insight, and interpretation in the text and the eighty-four pages of reference notes that an upper-division seminar could easily use this volume as its centrepiece.
The front and back covers for the paperback edition of the book are included as part of this post. Cohen will be teaching material from Duke Ellington’s America as part of two MA CCI courses at King’s College London this fall: his own “Music and American Culture” and the core course “Contesting Cultures.”