In a series of fictional portraits, Geoff Dyer captures the beating heart of jazz, its pathos and lyricism, urgency and self-destruction: Charlie Mingus in New York; Art Pepper in prison; Lester Young in the Alvin; Bud Powell in Paris. 'Drawing on how he hears the music of people like Mingus, Monk, Bud Powell, Art Pepper and Lester Young, Dyer ...Read MoreIn a series of fictional portraits, Geoff Dyer captures the beating heart of jazz, its pathos and lyricism, urgency and self-destruction: Charlie Mingus in New York; Art Pepper in prison; Lester Young in the Alvin; Bud Powell in Paris. 'Drawing on how he hears the music of people like Mingus, Monk, Bud Powell, Art Pepper and Lester Young, Dyer has constructed eight variations like highly concentrated novels, 80 per cent proof swigs of fiction. The result, I think, is brilliant.His attempts to recreate the drug-fogged, music-drenched, reality-melting, racism-crazed insides of the minds of people like Powell, Mingus, Webster and Chet Baker are unnervingly effective. So too, are his pen-portraits of their music .his long postscript on jazz today shows that he can operate as a lucid and catholic jazz critic as well' Miles Kington, INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAYRead Less
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Publishers Weekly, 1997-05-27 The author uses fact and fiction to dramatize the lives of eight jazz legends. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 1995-11-13 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 livesæLester 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. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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