But Beautiful: A Book About Jazz
"May be the best book ever written about jazz."David Thomson, Los Angeles Times
In eight poetically charged vignettes, Geoff Dyer skillfully evokes the music and the men who shaped modern jazz. Drawing on photos, anecdotes, and, most important, the way he hears the music, Dyer imaginatively reconstructs scenes from the embattled lives of some of the greats: Lester Young fad...more
And read the book!
All I’ve done is make selections.
Geoff Dyer has written several books, both fiction and non-fiction. This book is a bit of both. His preface refers to an improvisation, and calls it imaginative criticism. As well, it contains invented dialogue and action. (But in his list of references, he does cite source material for much of what could be read as completely invented.) Scenes were intended as “co ...more
He awoke at 6am, and slid out of the bed in the 20’s studio apartment he’d leased for six months.
It was still dark outside, but he could see a sliver of golden glow in a crack in the curtains.
He went over to it, and drew the curtains slightly apart.
Across the gap in the horseshoe-shaped apartment building, but down one level, he could see the source of the glow.
A woman, in her pyjamas, was prancing around her bedroom, well, between the wardrobe and her bed.
She was trying to ...more
His book Out of Sheer Rage, which is impossible to categorize, forever changed the way I look at writing. The ...more
When I began writing this book I was unsure of the form it should take. This was a great advantage since it meant I had to improvise and so, from...more
- Sciogliete accuratamente le parole di questo libro, in una sera tiepida in cui non avete niente da fare, e immergetevi nella lettura con un sottofondo di musica jazz, a volume medio. Prima di levare lo sguardo dal libro, e ritornare alla solita routine abbiate cura di non strofinare via le emozioni che vi sono cadute addosso. Piuttosto frizionatele e lasciate che vi detergano l’anima.
- Risciacquate bene la malinconica melodia interiore di cui ormai siete pred ...more
Geoff Dyer states in his title that this is “a book about jazz.” What he doesn’t tell you is that, in looking at some of the great jazz musicians, his prose is going to riff on the words as a musician would riff on the melody. He gives us an ongoing dialogue between Duke Ellington and Harry Carney while they ...more
As I read it I heard the sound of the music limn the edges of the characters Dyer presents, who happen to be not only some of the lodestars of the jazz world but also certifiably brilliant 20th Century composers, by any standard you care to mention...Lester Young ("Pres" to Lady Day, who named her, and she him), Ben Webster, Art Pepper, Charles Mingus, Chet Baker ("the James Dean of Jazz"- a term I don't like all that much except it just s ...more
The individual pieces in this book are held together by brief episodes of Duke Ellington and Harry Carney on the road that reads sort ...more
In Dyer’s evocative and impressionistic character sketches of several of its iconic figures (Lester Young, ...more
It's a fantastic story that the author brings about through the brilliant move of looking at the culture through its most memorable, fierce, and enigmatic exponents. Figures covered include the unworldly genius of Thelonious Monk, the alcoholic tenor Lester Young, the piano prodigy ...more
He shouldn’t protest so much. The eight lyrical, semi-fictionalized vignettes on Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Lester Young, Chet Baker, Charles Mingus and others are a credible mix ...more
While I've been surrounded by the recordings for many years, the clinical nature of jazz appreciation dissuades me from cottoning to the form. This book brings the love: with each chapter, a vibrant evocation of a life and art told in prose. Reading about Art Pepper or Thelonious Monk, or my favorite, tender and brave Lester Young, I heard their music and felt their life forces move through the sounds. Dyer, who mak ...more
Chapter by chapter, we get glimpses of the lives and music of Lester Young, Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington ...more
This book is truly gorgeous. I hardly know where to start. I appreciate jazz, but my knowledge is in dire, short supply. It’s such a generational and collaborative art form, so it seems important to keep its evolution in context, which has always made me feel like I’ll never grasp it and will always be intimidated. ...more
Then, it turns out, it's great. I know less about jazz than Dyer does about how Americans refer to garbage collect ...more
Um, okay. I think it would have helped to have had a soundtrack -- I knew of the musicians I was reading about, but I didn't always know their work. There's an informative and extended afterward that I actually enjoyed more, because it told me about jazz, not about self-destruction. There's a claim here that most of the great jazz musicians have been addicts -- some have come out the other side, some have not -- that seems to date back to ...more
Listening, the prisoners know that his playing is about something which is not higher but deeper than dignity, self-respect, pride, or love--deeper than the spirit: the simple resilience of the body. Years from now, when his body has become a sustaining reservoir of pain, Art will remember the lesson of this day: if he can stand up he can play, and if he can play he can play beautifully.A splendid meditation on jazz and the instrumental (haaaah) personalities behind it. The prose is remarkably ...more