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The Jazzmen book cover

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

Author Event
In Person
May 14, 2024 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. ET

From the New York Times bestselling author of Satchel and Bobby Kennedy, a sweeping and spellbinding portrait of the longtime kings of jazz—Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Count Basie—who, born within a few years of one another, overcame racist exclusion and violence to become the most popular entertainers on the planet.

The Jazzmen paints a vivid and immersive portrait of the birth of jazz, highlighting the resilience of its trailblazers as they opened America’s ears and souls to the magnificence of their melodies. Duke Ellington was the grandson of slaves. Louis Daniel Armstrong was born in a New Orleans slum so tough it was called The Battlefield. William James “Count” Basie also grew up in a world unfamiliar to white fans as the son of a coachman and laundress. Each of them insisted he was a music maker first and last; in reality, all three were cultural and racial insurgents. These extraordinary performers overcame racial exclusion during the Jim Crow era of segregation. Even as they traveled the world as America’s jazz ambassadors, they had to take extraordinary steps to stay alive when they ventured below America’s Mason-Dixon Line.  Based on more than 250 interviews and extensive research, including genealogical studies, The Jazzmen brings to life 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. Don’t miss Larry Tye’s conversation with David Leonard, President of the Boston Public Library, about these remarkable men and their times.

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.

David Leonard is President of the Boston Public Library. He leads the 170-year old institution, one of Boston’s great educational, cultural and civic treasures. David began working at the BPL in 2009, bringing a wealth of experience from the technology, management and consulting fields.

Presented by Boston Public Library in partnership with American Ancestors’ American Inspiration series and GBH Forum Network