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Music is My Mistress

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  283 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
”Music is my mistress, and she plays second fiddle to no one.” This is the story of Duke Ellington—the 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 Harlem’s Cotton Club in the ‘20s as he was at ...more
Paperback, 544 pages
Published February 21st 1976 by Da Capo Press (first published 1973)
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Best Non Fiction About Music
247th out of 908 books — 844 voters
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Community Reviews

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Feb 06, 2011 Anders rated it really liked it
As a huge fan of the Ellington band, and Duke's + band's incredible accomplishments while on earth this was a very engaging read. Duke verbal style, flowing and distinguished as well as generous prose is fun to read. Especially his own rendition of his early years and describing life playing music in New York in the 20's and 30's is wetly appetizing and imaginative, even when he goes over the top in his storytelling. The book is packed with charming and insightful analogies to the muse, referenc ...more
Apr 18, 2015 Lucrezia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Poiché vivo in una caverna sono quasi un eremita. Ma c'è una differenza, perché ho una donna. Le amanti vanno e vengono, ma la mia donna resta. E' bella e gentile. Mi serve con umiltà. E' dinamica. Ha grazia. Se la senti parlare non credi alle tue orecchie. Ha diecimila anni ma è moderna come il domani, una donna nuova ogni giorno ed eterna come il tempo. Vivere con lei è un labirinto di ramificazioni. Aspetto trepidante ogni suo gesto.
La musica è la mia signora e non fa da secondo violino a nes
Asails F
Mar 09, 2011 Asails F rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, personal
Used to love watching Duke and others in the morning in between the cartoons playing their songs.

I remember Duke telling the story of how the Song Take the A train was made. And then later hearing the Billy Strayhorn version. Their very close relationship was even more amazing and helped make music history.

Read this book.
Oct 27, 2009 Jelinas rated it liked it
I was six years old the first time I ever touched a piano. Being the stereotypical Korean parents that they were, my parents insisted on my taking piano lessons before my feet could even touch the pedals.

Thus began my tempestuous relationship with classical music – I loved to listen to it and hated playing it. I went from being a mediocre pianist to a downright awful violinist. I certainly never blossomed into the prodigy that my parents dreamed of bragging to their friends about.

But I’ll always
Nov 09, 2009 Phillip rated it really liked it
Shelves: autobiography, music
this book started out a teeny bit rough for me. great musicians don't always forge the best literary voices. duke's voice seemed overly eager to entertain, and push the razzle dazzle...but as the story continued, he shed his dancin' shoes and got down to the business of telling the story of how it all happened...the amazing journey of one of the longest standing bands in the history of american music. after a rough start, this book was intensely satisfying.
Mar 20, 2010 Mia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, read-2010
It's rare to find a memoir that exudes such ebullience. Even as you disagree with an opinion or acknowledge that there are obviously parts of the story not being told, the sheer joy and curiosity expressed is infectious. One of my favorite quotations from the Q&A epilogue: "Q: Based on your observations, what do you believe will lead to the downfall of mankind? A: A combination of complacency and underestimation."
Josh  Giunta
Dec 30, 2014 Josh Giunta rated it liked it
Duke could be the first person to write an autobiography who named each chapter after someone else and wrote more about about his peers & colleagues than of himself.

Favorite quote =
Q: 'What is your favorite composition you have written?"

Ellington: "The one I'm going to write tomorrow."
Emerson Cardenas
Jun 21, 2015 Emerson Cardenas rated it it was amazing
Beautiful dignity
Sep 26, 2009 Spiros rated it liked it
Recommends it for: those interested in greatness of soul
In addition to being high up in the pantheon of those who have made me Proud to be an American, Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington was one beautiful cat. The problem with his autobiography? Basically, it's 480 or so pages (copiously illustrated, so really about 410 pages) of Duke waxing rhapsodic about how great everybody and everything is. With absolutely no discernable narrative structure. Still, some wonderful bits throughout, so I'll probably keep it in my bedside bookcase and dip back into it ...more
david f
Aug 20, 2008 david f is currently reading it
A jazzy friend of mine recommended Duke Ellington's music to me and gave me this book. I began reading it, then was distracted for a while; I haven't yet picked it back up. Ellington knew his stuff, though, and the bits that I have read are down-to-earth and very personable. He might as well be sitting across from you at a coffee shop and telling you the stories himself. Though he rambles often, Ellington has moments where his odd quotes jump right off the page.
Marc Davis
Dec 30, 2012 Marc Davis rated it liked it
I love Duke Ellington, but not this book. His music is clever and innovative and emotional. The book is just one big smiley face. That was Duke's personality. Couldn't say a bad word about anyone. But the result is all the good words about literally everybody and everything that ever happened to him are just not believable. Some good anecdotes, a few interesting mini-profiles, but mostly just bland. Exactly the opposite of his music.
Laurel Scott
Jun 05, 2014 Laurel Scott rated it really liked it
Shelves: music, biography
Duke Ellington's autobiography is a must-read for his fans. His writing is as tasty as his compositions. His descriptions of the musicians, various other people in his life, his spiritual inspirations, and his tours are wonderful. The book also has an extensive discography and other reference material.
Mar 24, 2016 Eric rated it liked it
I swear that at least a quarter of this book was about food and Duke's penchant for doggie bags -- that's the kinda autobio you're in for here. Soft, fluffy, self-censored, overly diplomatic, all comers praised... Still, his personality shines through, and there are some good stories and anecdotes in the mix. Enjoyed this far more than I should have.
Nov 01, 2008 Kerry rated it liked it
I read this back in 8th grade and loved it. I don't remember too much about the specifics except for one passage where Duke recounts how he managed to lose something like 50 pounds. He claimed that his diet consisted of a rare steak for breakfast along with black coffee. That was all he ate each day.
Nov 12, 2015 Erick rated it it was ok
Shelves: music
Too much about his playing dates and not
enough about his life. To me it was
Dec 01, 2008 Jim rated it it was amazing
Wonderful Biography from the Grand Master of Jazz. Best Bio or Auto-Bio I've ever read.
Oct 02, 2008 Kevin rated it liked it
Shelves: biographical, jazz
interesting to jazz enthusiasts, but a dry and at times difficult read.
Carlo Franzblau
Mar 06, 2013 Carlo Franzblau rated it it was ok
Peerless composer and performer. Disapointing writer.
Winter Sophia Rose
Mar 06, 2015 Winter Sophia Rose rated it it was amazing
Fascinating, Compelling & Insightful! I Loved It!
Cheryl Mcenaney
Mar 29, 2013 Cheryl Mcenaney rated it liked it
A quick read, and a really interesting one.
Bjm Index
Jul 12, 2012 Bjm Index added it
Shelves: priority
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