The Duke has long been considered the aristocrat of American jazz and like most aristocrats he is a reticent man. This is a voluminous autobiography which reveals almost nothing. You'll learn that his first piano teacher was a Mrs. Clinkscales; that no one else had a mother ""as great and beautiful as mine""; that ""I have always seemed to encounter the right people in the right places at the right time."" At least half the book is given over to encomiums of the musicians he has worked with. The Duke has kind words for all -- diplomacy and noblesse oblige plus a normally sunny temperament forbid criticism and in any case Ellington doesn't hold with negativism. So he reminisces on the royal receptions he's received all over the world from Karachi where he stayed in the Aga Khan's hotel suite to Los Angeles where he once discovered avocado ice cream to Russia where they feted him with caviar. There are scattered references to the classic Ellington compositions -- he wrote ""Mood Indigo"" in fifteen minutes, he was delighted when ""Black Brown and Beige"" opened in Carnegie Hall to critical acclaim -- and continuous affirmation of how much he loves music and what a happy and lucky man he has been. It's smooth and impeccably rehearsed with never a discordant note to make you sit up and take notice.