Reviews, Columns & Quotes

Reviews & Columns


“Utilizing his encompassing knowledge of Ellington’s music, personnel and decades-long touring, Carlon…presents a kid’s-eye view whose drama centers on the band’s 1939 European tour….Danny, orphaned at 9, stows away on Duke’s tour train….Danny narrates a life of touring: exciting, sometimes boring, rich with musical highs and adoring fans worldwide. Tension ratchets during the tour abroad,as Belgians hide machine guns in haystacks and Nazis detain the band’s Scandinavian-bound train for hours in Hamburg. Carlon unflinchingly characterizes the Nazi hatred of ‘Niggermusik.’ Two references to the n-word contextualize it appropriately, as a reprehensible tool of Nazi hate speech. In schools where students are lucky enough to experience classroom jazz studies, this title, combining rich musical history and a ‘you are there’ approach, is a natural.”

“Duke used to say that the individual sound of a musician revealed his soul. Mick Carlon is a ‘soul’ storyteller.”—Nat Hentoff, author of Jazz Country

“A ripping good yarn. . . . Plunges the reader into the world of Duke Ellington and the America of 1939.”—Brian Morton, author of The Penguin Guide to Jazz

“Wonderfully convincing and authentic characterizations. . . . A thoroughly enjoyable read.”—Dan Morgenstern, author of Living with Jazz

“We encounter not only Duke’s genius, but his character and humanity. This is one train you won’t want to get off!”—Dick Golden, radio host

“When this marvelously evocative novel finds a home in the school curriculum, kids across America will be downloading Duke.”—Jack Bradley

“Excellent command of voice, period, and ethnic dialect . . . clear love and in-depth knowledge of Ellington and his band.”—Alexandria LaFaye, author of The Keening

Nine-year-old Danny stows away on Duke Ellington’s train one Georgia night. Through Danny’s eyes, we meet some of America’s finest musicians as he accompanies them on their 1939 European tour, when the train was briefly held in Germany. Says Nat Hentoff, “I knew Duke Ellington for twenty-five years. The Ellington in this book is the man I knew.”

Mick Carlon is a twenty-seven-year veteran English/journalism high- and middle-school teacher. A lifelong jazz fan, he regularly plays jazz in his classroom and has turned hundreds of students into jazz