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Music is My Mistress (Da Capo Paperback) [Paperback]

Edward K. Ellington
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Feb 1976 Da Capo Paperback
}Music is my mistress, and she plays second fiddle to no one. This is the story of Duke Ellingtonthe story of Jazz itself. Told in his own way, in his own words, a symphony written by the King of Jazz. His story spans and defines a half-century of modern music.This man who created over 1500 compositions was as much at home in Harlems Cotton Club in the 20s as he was at a White House birthday celebration in his honor in the 60s. For Duke knew everyone and savored them all. Passionate about his music and the people who made music, he counted as his friends hundreds of the musicians who changed the face of music throughout the world: Bechet, Basie, Armstrong, Lena Horne, Ella Fitzgerald, Sinatra, to name a few of them. Here are 100 photographs to give us an intimate view of Dukes worldhis family, his friends, his associates.What emerges most strongly in his commitment to music, the mistress for whom he saves the fullest intensity of his passion. Lovers have come and gone, but only my mistress stays, he says. He composed not only songs that all the world has sung, but also suites, sacred works, music for stage and screen and symphonies. This rich book, the embodiment of the life and works of the Duke, is replete with appendices listing singers, arrangers, lyricists and the symphony orchestras with whom the Duke played. There is a book to own and cherish by all who love Jazz and the contributions made to it by the Duke. }

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Product details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press Inc (1 Feb 1976)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306800330
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306800337
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 13.5 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 906,510 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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First Sentence
The house lights dim. . .there is a fanfare. . .a voice comes over the loud-speaker. . . "Ladies and gentlemen, may I present today's most honored musician-Duke Ellington!" Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
If you want to know anything at all about Duke Ellington, you can learn it in this book. Not only is it the best source in the world for info on Duke, it is masterfully written. It is one of the greatest books I've ever read, and I've read quite a bit.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest jazzman in history speaks 13 Dec 1997
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Written by The Duke himself, this book provides insight into the life and music of the greatest composer jazz has ever produced. If you ever wondered what Duke thought of those he played with and those he didn't; here it is in black and white. Required reading for anyone interested in the history of American music.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
I am lucky enough to own a copy of the hardback, fully-illustrated edition of the memoirs of the greatest jazz composer who ever jotted a tune down on the back of a napkin. "Music is my Mistress" is a charming, funny, entertaining, urbane read, but don't expect for a second that it's going to tell you anything about the deepest currents that flowed in the soul of Edward Kennedy Ellington. Duke was always a consummately discreet and diplomatic interviewee, more interested in being charmingly elusive than in pouring out his heart, and it should come as no surprise that his memoirs follow the same pattern. You will learn little about his true feelings for the members of his orchestra, and nothing at all about his private life. In the meantime, you will learn a lot about how Duke liked to present himself to the world.

Don't get me wrong; it's a fun read and an interesting one. But it does nothing to illuminate the wonderful, glittering enigma of Duke Ellington.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Ellington Master of Jazz 24 Nov 2012
Format:Paperback
This is not the autobiography many people had hoped for from Ellington, but then again, since when did the great man ever do what was expected of him? There is an autobiographical element; he takes us through the early years of struggle and the high and low times of the Orchestra, but not in a particularly organized fashion. Much of the book is taken up by a fascinating collection of short portraits of the musicians he played with in his long career. Not surprisingly they are dominated by men who influenced him and those who played in his band. Don't forget that Duke played with Willie 'the Lion' Smith in the 1920's, and with John Coltrane in the 1960's. A great read, effused with Ellington's spirit. It simply has that 'feel-good' factor which is so rare these days.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly Fascinating Life 12 Jan 2000
By Matthew Christian Dallman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Wow what a book. The best part about this book is that Duke wrote it. You get it straight from him. I recommend this book to anyone into the music.
His accounts of his younger days were what most appealed to me. He pays so much respect to the people he was surrounded by, both his family and the community of musicians. Sometimes the many names dropped can be a bit much, but that was just his style--always letting people know who helped him, who mentored him, who taught him, who he admired. There's scarcely a mean-spirited word in the whole book!
There is a lot of variety to the way he tells his stories. Sometimes its through the name dropping profiles; sometimes its through interviews reprinted for this book; sometimes its through out-and-out philosophical dissertations about music and life; sometimes it's in the midst of his endless travelling of the globe with his band.
For the musician looking for tips and advice, there's plenty of Duke wisdom provided throughout. His overall love for music and musicians is just SOOO apparent. My favorite piece of advice is that he said he learned music exclusively through oral instruction, from people in the scene who would share techniques and secrets seemingly as freely as idle conversation (how different the musical climate is these days!)
The last third or so of the book get a bit tedious for this reader. There just wasn't a lot of variety to his accounts of globetrotting and meeting all the important people in all the countries. What kept me going through these sections were the occasional gems of advice or insight, but there's more of that in the first half of the book. Thank god for the end of the book, a funny interview where the interviewer is REALLY condescending to Duke, but Duke gets through is with all the grace, wit, intelligence, and humor that makes him such a compelling person, composer, and most of all, a genius and musical mystic.
Thank the Duke for this book, and allowing us to get a glimpse of his life and all his amazing stories!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest jazzman in history speaks 13 Dec 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Written by The Duke himself, this book provides insight into the life and music of the greatest composer jazz has ever produced. If you ever wondered what Duke thought of those he played with and those he didn't; here it is in black and white. Required reading for anyone interested in the history of American music.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Straight from the master's mouth 27 July 2000
By Robert James - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I'm a great fan of autobiography. Granted, often it is sanitized and self-serving, but there's nothing like hearing a person tell their own life, especially if the life is as important as this one. Without a doubt, Duke Ellington was the century's greatest American composer and bandleader; the only ones who even come close to him (Aaron Copland, George Gershwin, Cole Porter) had neither his longevity nor his variety. And none of them also maintained a working band through six decades! I own almost every recording ever released by Duke Ellington; his music has become indelibly printed on my brain. This book may not be the most accurate account of his life (if you can handle a little armchair psychology, the Collier biography is the best choice for that), but this is like sitting in a room hearing Duke talk -- and play!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Class. 18 Nov 2004
By George H. Soule - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Classic. If you consider the classic elegance of Edward Kennedy Ellington, it should come as no surprise that his prose is as lyrical and poetic as his music. This is a wonderful collection of writings. It is in effect an arrangement of essays and short pieces written with what I suspect is love about the love of his life-jazz, or music itself, if you will. The book contains many short pieces-impressionistic sketches and characters of persons that Duke Ellington knew-musicians, friends, acquaintances, public figures. But it also has a variety of essays-longer subjects interwoven with themes and counterpoint. Ellington's is exquisitely musical prose-again, not to be surprised. The organization is chronological, narrative, more or less. Duke organizes with autobiographical passages followed by short portraits-Dramatis Felidae-that demonstrate the concreteness through brief descriptions of the persons that he knew with anecdotes that define them. The book covers a life filled with friends and experience. The variety is tremendous, and the life and the career are masterpieces. The themes and subjects are multifaceted. This is Duke Ellington's poetic literary suite posing as prose, and it should not be missed. Really-it's great poetry and a terrific compendium of jazz history and experience.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Duke, Coolness Personified 14 Jun 2013
By Alan S. Hymanson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Pictures, stories, back stories, musical notations, it's all here in the Duke's voice. Still the coolest, superbly talented, charismatic
man ever.
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