Thomas Brothers, who previously wrote the outstanding Louis Armstrong, Master of Modernism, recently released a new book that delves into the fascinating realms of musical collaboration. HELP! The Beatles, Duke Ellington, and the Magic of Collaboration, provides insight into how these two protean musical groups relied on the contributions and “help” of their band members for inspiration and musical ideas. For example, the author discusses how the numerous contributions of the Ellington aggregation led to Duke’s success as a composer and bandleader. Did you know that alto star Johnny Hodges was responsible for creating the themes that spawned some of Duke’s biggest hits? Or that Billy Strayhorn’s compositional role was much more extensive than often was credited? Or that Lennon and McCartney shared composer credit even for songs they wrote individually?
Brothers has a captivating writing style that brings life, and reading pleasure, to what might otherwise be arcane music history. Highly recommended!