David Hajdu
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'Lush Life' by David Hajdu

Lush Life: A Biography of Billy Strayhorn

"For a case study of biography at its best, one could not do much better than Lush Life. A book that comes close to being a model biography. Whether you are interest in Strayhorn or not, you will find pleasure and illumination in Hajdu's exemplary craftsmanship." — Jonathan Yarley, The Washington Post

"What makes Lush Life one of the finest of jazz biographies is the way Mr. Hajdu directs the readers to conclusions through the weight of his evidence, without explicitly stating them. The detail that Mr. Hajdu has uncoverred, particularly concerning the early Pittsburgh years and including the copious testimonry of nearly 200 of Strayhorn's and Ellington's associates, is staggering, especially in light of how little has been previously published on Staryhorn." — Will Friedwald, The New York Times Book Review (cover review)

"Hajdu gives Strayhorn his belated due as a distinct musical voice and an engaging, if conflicted, personality. Strayhorn's taste and wit, his relentless drinking, his lovers, his activism in Harlem cultural life and the civil rights movement, his generosity — all are sensitively evoked."

— Christopher Porterfield, Time

"Lush Life is a chatty, human book, deeply lyrical and brimming with pleasures, yet through it all, disturbingly melancholy. The real lushness Hajdu evokes in Lush Life comes with the details of Strayhorn's imaginative life, with his smoky dreams of cocktails glowing forever in dreamy Parisian nights with just the right company at his elbow. Lush Life is about as lyrical as biography can get and still stay on track."

— Peter Goddard, Toronto Star

"David Hajdu has done something extraordinary: He has made Strayhorn a living, breathing presence and created of his life a work of real art. The highest tribute I can pay to David Hajdu's work is that it has the complexity, dimension, and excitement of a fine novel." — David Evanier, Los Angeles Reader

"Arguably the finest biography yet written about a jazz musician, a sensitively observed, eloquently expressed portrait of a complex, much loved, and troubled man that will fascinate readers who have never heard a note of Strayhorn's music. A richly detailed yet rigorously disciplined chronicle, deeply affecting." — Joel E. Seigel, Washington City Paper

"A brilliant biography. Lush Life is an extraordinary portrait of a most unique man, time, and place — that rare biography that not only illuminates a life, but evokes an era with such specificity that we can almost taste the gin and the genius that fueled it." — Terry Lawson, Detroit Free Press

"David Hajdu, the author of Lush Life: A Biography of Billy Strayhorn, does a great service for all those interested in American music. He puts Strayhorn in perspective, clearly establishing who and what he was. Hajdu combines history, musicology, and a depth of humanity in this gracefully written book. His wide-ranging research and interviewing set a high standard." — Burt Korall, International Musician

"Astonishingly intimate, powerful and revealing. Hajdu succeeds in making us understand and feel for the major characters in the jazz world in the 1940s, 1950s, and early 1960s. In so doing, we understand Strayhorn's importance as never before." — Frankie Alexander, Raleigh News & Observer

"David Hajdu's Lush Life is a biography worthy of its subject: sophisticated, subtle, and bittersweet, with an ear open to the nuances of both music and life." — Don McLeese, The American-Statesman

"Hajdu draws an elegant, fastidious, enlightening and, in the end, tragic tale. If Ellington is still larger than life, Hajdu's treatment of Strayhorn might be considered, uh, life itself." — K. Leander Willians, Time Out New York

"Hajdu invests his biography of Strayhorn with the kind of sensitivity and clarity which is the mark of his subject's best work." — The New Yorker (no byline)