Wednesday, May 30, 2012

"But Beautiful" by Geoff Dyer (plus music)

Great jazz and good writing has been a wonderful combination for many years now.   So by even its cover I knew this book is going to of some interest.  Geoff Dyer has a real appreciation for the visual imagery of jazz - meaning that his writing is almost a series of snapshots of various legendary jazz figures. He captures each moment  that is both touching and 'wow.'

The individual pieces in this book are held together by brief episodes of Duke Ellington and Harry Carney on the road that reads sort of existential that they do what they do - which is to travel, eat at dodgy diners, go to club/theater, play music and then go forward.  But during this activity Ellington is consistently thinking of writing new music and he finds inspiration on the pacing and details of 'road' life.   A very nice touch, and then it goes into incredible 'at the moment' portraits of Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Ben Webster, Lester Young, Chet Baker, and the ultra-cool and poisonous Art Pepper.   Dyer gets it right, and this is a really 'must' type of book for one's jazz library.  Or I should just say music.   You like sound, then get the book.

Here's the music makers that are in the book:

Lester Young
Lester Young - Tenor Sax
Billy Butterfield - Trumpet
Hank D'Amico - Clarinet
Dexter Hall - Guitar
Johnny Guarnieri - Piano
Billy Taylor - Bass
Cozy Cole - Drums

Lester Young and Coleman Hawkins, 1958
Charlie Shavers, trumpet; J C Higginbotham, trombone; Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, tenor sax; Pee Wee Russell, clarinet; Harry Sheppard, vibraphone; Willie "The Lion" Smith, piano; Dickie Thompson, guitar; Vinnie Burke, acoustic double bass; Sonny Greer, drums

Lester Young and Billie Holiday.  With Gerry Mulligan

Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk - piano. Charlie Rouse - tenor. Larry Gales - bass. Ben Riley - drums

a long set with Thelonious Monk.

Bud Powell Trio

Ben Webster
Ben Webster - Tenor Saxophone, Kenny Drew - Piano, Nils Henning Orsted Pederson - Bass, Alex Riel, Drums

Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus Double Bass
Eric Dolphy Bass Clarinet
Dannie Richmond Drum
Clifford Jordan Tenor Sax
Jackie Byard Piano
Johnny Coles Trumpet

Chet Baker

Art Pepper
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