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Filmed just six years before Duke Ellington’s death and at the peak of his career, ON THE ROAD WITH DUKE ELLINGTON serves as perhaps the most revealing and intimate portrait of the artist ever recorded. Robert Drew, legendary filmmaker and pioneer of the
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Filmed in 1967 and first shown in 1974, filmmaker Robert Drew's hour-long documentary is less a biography of Duke Ellington, the man now widely regarded as the 20th century's most important composer, than a brief slice of his remarkable life. "Every night I give a house party," Ellington says of his days on the road, "and I'm the guest of honor." Yet while there's plenty of performance footage of the maestro and his musicians (most of it, unfortunately, a bit on the grainy side, with audio that's less than stellar), we also see him in the studio, at work at his piano, doing business, eating his daily breakfast of steak, potatoes, and hot water, attending the funeral of musical partner Billy Strayhorn, and considerably more. What emerges is a reasonably intimate portrait of a smart, debonair (but oh-so-hip) man whose life was simply consumed with music--much to the benefit of us all. --Sam GrahamFrom the Back Cover:
Filmed just six years before Duke Ellington's death and at the peak of his career, On the Road with Duke Ellington serves as perhaps the most revealing and intimate portrait of the artist ever recorded. Robert Drew, legendary filmmaker and pioneer of the Cinema Vérité documentary style, offers audiences a unique and unobtrusive look inside the colorful and transient world of this American jazz legend, exposing the key elements that characterize and define Ellington as we discover the artist performing, composing, and ruminating about his life and career. Since then, no other film, book, interview, or composition has been able to capture Ellington in quite the same way. Drew finds Ellington at home, on the road, and at his piano, in a world where nightly concert performances, impromptu improvisations, all-night composing sessions, and steak and potato breakfasts are all a part of Duke's daily routine. With a musical score that highlights an assortment of Ellington standards including "Satin Doll" and "Take the 'A' Train," we are privy to rare moments with Duke as we encounter him late at night composing a new song that he will perform the following day. Even Louis Armstrong makes an appearance in this groundbreaking film that profiles one of the most prolific and influential composers of the 20th century.
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