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Music Is My Mistress (Da Capo Paperback) Paperback – February 21, 1976

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Product Details

  • Series: Da Capo Paperback
  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; 2nd edition (February 21, 1976)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306800330
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306800337
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #318,231 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Christian Dallman on January 12, 2000
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.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 13, 1997
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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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Robert James on July 26, 2000
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!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By George H. Soule on November 17, 2004
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.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Excelsior! on August 3, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book was a good read. Since it came from the hand of the artist himself, it certainly had a real air of authenticity. Within the pages of 'music is my mistress' you wont find cussing or name raking, but you will find fascinating accounts of certain events in this man' life and times. Of the many iconic music leaders of the 20th century, Ellington could have labelled many shonky operators he no doubt came across, but decided to always be the gentleman about the business and We have notr even mentioned his prodigious music talent.
He does not big note himself and certainly is generous in his descriptions of fellow musicians and collaborators.

One interesting ommission is the non mention of Duke' wives and or partner to tie in Mercer Ellington (his son), specifically as Mercer is mentioned numerous times in connection to the Ellington band when Duke (Edward) was ill or could not play the tour dates.

But this is small fry. Read the book if you like DE. i enjoyed it and have passed it on to a saxophone playin' friend.
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