Mark Tucker was a renowned biographer and researcher (although he was also a talented pianist), whose primary subject over the years was the great Duke Ellington, as well as other renowned jazz musicians. Although he originally played classical music while a student at Yale University, he began studying jazz more thoroughly while working on his master's degree in musicology, specifically the works of such masters as Jelly Roll Morton, Count Basie, Thelonious Monk, and Ellington. Tucker taught at Columbia University from 1987 to 1997, during which time several of the books he wrote were published -- the acclaimed biography/musical analysis Ellington: The Early Years, The Duke Ellington Reader, and contributed to Jazz From the Beginning, while also supplying liner notes for such Ellington CD reissues as Piano Reflections and Reprise Studio Recordings. In addition to his books, Tucker also contributed to The New York Times, Black Music Research Journal, and American Music (among others), and in 1997, became the David N. and Margaret C. Bottoms Professor of Music and professor of American studies at the College of William and Mary. Tucker also didn't let his piano skills go to waste, as he performed Ellington programs at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Humanities Center, and appeared as a soloist with the Chicago Jazz Ensemble. Tucker died from lung cancer on December 6, 2000, in Williamsburg, VA, at the age of 46.
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