On the Road With Duke Ellington | Chicago Reader

On the Road With Duke Ellington

Robert Drew produced this 58-minute TV documentary about Duke Ellington on the road in 1967—the year he picked up honorary degrees at Yale and Morgan State and the year Billy Strayhorn, his principal collaborator, died. (Drew updated the film slightly in 1974.) It's valuable mainly for the portrait it offers of Ellington as a person, pianist, and composer, in roughly that order, though not so much as a bandleader. Insofar as Ellington's main instrument was his orchestra, this is a limitation, but On the Road is still valuable for giving us aspects of the man neglected elsewhere, and some of the music—mainly Duke on piano—is great.

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