Larry Tye – The Jazzmen: How Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Count Basie Transformed America

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Summer Author Series

Join us at the Museum on June 24th at 4:00PM as New York Times bestselling author Larry Tye discusses his 2024 nonfiction book, The Jazzmen: How Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Count Basie Transformed America.

Larry Tye, in conversation with Mindy Todd, will invite us into the captivating narrative of these iconic figures of jazz as they shattered racial barriers, captivating the world with their unparalleled talent and becoming the epitome of entertainment excellence.

Based on more than 250 interviews, this exhaustively researched book brings alive the history of Black America in the early-to-mid 1900s through the singular lens of the country’s most gifted, engaging, and enduring African-American musicians.

Book signing to follow program.

About The Book

This is the story of three revolutionary American musicians, the maestro jazzmen who orchestrated the chords that throb at the soul of twentieth-century America.

  • Duke Ellington, the grandson of slaves who was christened Edward Kennedy Ellington, was a man whose story is as layered and nuanced as his name suggests and whose music transcended category.
  • Louis Daniel Armstrong was born in a New Orleans slum so tough it was called The Battlefield and, at age seven, got his first musical instrument, a ten-cent tin horn that drew buyers to his rag-peddling wagon and set him on the road to elevating jazz into a pulsating force for spontaneity and freedom.
  • William James Basie, too, grew up in a world unfamiliar to white fans—the son of a coachman and laundress who dreamed of escaping every time the traveling carnival swept into town, and who finally engineered his getaway with help from Fats Waller.

What is far less known about these groundbreakers is that they were bound not just by their music or even the discrimination that they, like nearly all Black performers of their day, routinely encountered. Each defied and ultimately overcame racial boundaries by opening America’s eyes and souls to the magnificence of their music. In the process they wrote the soundtrack for the civil rights movement.

About Larry Tye

Larry Tye is the New York Times bestselling author of Bobby Kennedy and Satchel, as well as Demagogue, Superman, The Father of Spin, Home Lands, and Rising from the Rails, and coauthor, with Kitty Dukakis, of Shock. Previously an award-winning reporter at the Boston Globe and a Nieman fellow at Harvard University, he now runs the Boston-based Health Coverage Fellowship. He lives on Cape Cod.

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