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Besides colorful and expressive music, jazz greats such as Lester Young, Thelonius Monk and Duke Ellington led equally colorful, albeit self-destructive, lives. Through this collection of essays, Geoff Dyer recounts some of the more vivid episodes and events these personalities engaged in and illuminates unique aspects of their character that contributed to their music. He also sheds light on the oppression of working within an atmosphere of race-alienation, a hardship that led many to abuse alcohol and drugs, and find solace only in their incredible music. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Dyer (Ways of Telling) here weaves impressionistic fantasies around the lives of eight jazz legends. Though he calls this "imaginative criticism," the vignettes, inspired by photos and writings about the artists, have little to do with music. Rather, he muses about the musicians' personalities and certain episodes in their lives?Lester Young's disastrous stint in the army, Thelonious Monk's inability to communicate with anyone but his wife, Bud Powell's mental breakdown, Chet Baker's drug-induced deterioration, Duke Ellington's endless travels. The colorful essays are sometimes excessively fanciful, and they capture the atmosphere of alienation that surrounded these men who, often wasted by drug and alcohol abuse and worn out from days and nights on the road, seemed to function only when making music. The pretentious "afterword" is irrelevant. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
If you ever loved a jazz tune, you will love these pages. Not for anything else but for beauty in the art itself. Sobering, BUT BEAUTIFUL.Published on Feb. 18 2000
This book captures the essence of jazz. Every nuance from languid to livid, sad to sublime is etched out by Dyer's poetic and harmonious flow of prose. Read morePublished on Jan. 18 2000 by David M. Motzenbecker
Dyer's book is the best writing on musicians I've encountered, ranking alongside Greil Marcus's MYSTERY TRAIN and Nick Kent's THE DARK STUFF. Read morePublished on Sept. 3 1999
But Beautiful is brilliant. If you're a jazz fan, you must read this book. If you're not a jazz fan, you must also read this book. Read morePublished on Aug. 7 1999
It succeeds as a literary piece regardless of your feeling about jazz as a musical form. The book stands out in my mind as a total sensory experience; I still carry images evoked... Read morePublished on Dec 31 1998
It let your imagine and create the music and the scenes in your mind. You can feel the rhythm when you read. Just vivid and beautiful. A must read for jazz lovers.Published on May 3 1998
Dyer has the rare ability to make the reader feel like he is participating in these lives while simulataneously observing them. Read morePublished on April 1 1998
THIS BOOK IS A MUST READ FOR ANYONE WHO LOVES JAZZ. THE ARTHOR PUTS YOU INTO THE LIVING EXISTENCE OF THE MUSICIANS LIVES AS NO OTHER BOOK HAS. Read morePublished on Nov. 15 1997 by firstname.lastname@example.org