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Natura morta con custodia di sax: storie di jazz

4.24 of 5 stars 4.24  ·  rating details  ·  1,103 ratings  ·  111 reviews
Durante un lungo viaggio "on the road" in compagnia del suo autista baritono, Duke Ellington pensa, ricorda, progetta e compone. Dalle sue riflessioni e fantasie prendono forma sette narrazioni indipendenti su altrettanti musicisti jazz: Lester Young, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Charlie Mingus, Ben Webster, Chet Baker, Art Pepper. Completano il libro, facendone una vera e ...more
Paperback, Saggia/mente #2, 263 pages
Published 1993 by Instar (first published 1991)
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Ian Klappenskoff
In a Lonely Tenement

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
But Beautiful soars, it flits, it builds with big crescendos, and it breathes in syncopation. It doesn’t always play the notes our melody-trained minds might expect; it plays better ones instead. It’s writing about jazz. It’s writing as jazz. Beyond that, I can’t think of a better way to describe Dyer’s purpose than to lift large chunks of his preface.

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
Sep 22, 2007 Sarah rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: er-body
First, some gushing: Geoff Dyer is my favorite non-fiction writer ever and probably the best and most interesting author that you’ve never heard of. In these desperate days of tell-all memoirs, dry scholarly works, and self-help books, Dyer has forged ahead at full speed, writing self-deprecating, smart and funny genre-bending essays and books. And you can tell how much fun he’s having.

His book Out of Sheer Rage, which is impossible to categorize, forever changed the way I look at writing. The
Istruzioni per un’adeguata lettura.

- 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
Truly superb- luminous, lyrical, subdued, kind of blue.

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
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
Best Jazz book ever. Dyer brings a novelist's skill to this book which describes the lives and music of a dozen greatest jazz musicians America ever produced. We don't find out about Monk, we become Monk, we live his life, feel his tone. Devastating.
I guess you’d call this creative nonfiction. A former colleague recommended this book to me after reading some of my own thoughts on the life-affirming and health-inducing aspects of listening to jazz as I deal with a visitation of brain cancer. The great irony is that the joyous practice of improvisation in smoky clubs of the bebop era was so virulently self-destructive for its musicians.

In Dyer’s evocative and impressionistic character sketches of several of its iconic figures (Lester Young,
Darran Mclaughlin
Wonderful. Everything I have read by Geoff Dyer is a pleasure to read, and each book has been totally different. I'm a big Jazz fan so I was already predisposed to relish this. Dyer writes semi-biographical, semi-fictionalised vignettes about a number of different musicians and ends with a passionate essay on Jazz as an art form. He claims that there is next to no good writing about it, and when I think about it I haven't read much criticism or analysis of Jazz, unlike with other forms of music. ...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
This wasn't bad, but I couldn't help but wonder what the musicians evoked here would make of it. Like a lot of writers, Dyer sees perhaps too much meaning in music. The great thing about music, especially improvised instrumental music, is that it can be a space that transcends meaning, a space in which self expression and emotion are only a subset of what is going on. Dyer's afterword on the history and evolution of jazz, however, is a good introduction for the newcomer.
Gorgeous piece of writing. Dyer's writing style is enjoyable and lyrical, playing with the story of each of the jazz figures discussed in the work. While the people and events are largely factual, Dyer is upfront that it's his interpretation of what happened with these musicians. This can be a dangerous game, but Dyer's honesty and obvious love makes the blurring of nonfiction work more successfully than if he wrote in a more journalistic style. An enjoyable work, even for those who may not cons ...more
When it comes to Geoff Dyer, I am probably not objective. So far, whatever I've read of him, I have loved it. That disclaimer out of the way, But Beautiful is a lovely little book about Jazz -- although not in the traditional sense. Dyer takes stories/anecdotes/popular quotes and so on involving many leading figures from the explosive years of Jazz and fictionalizes them, to give us a better sense of the times, and more importantly, the men. This is a small book, a very quick read, but something ...more
So difficult to review this book - the likes of which I've never read before. I shan't attempt to in all honesty. Suffice to say, Geoff Dyer's writing is gripping, heartfelt, and all too believable. Which is pretty much all that matters given the subject matter - imagined portraits of the equally troubled and gifted musicians he portrays - Duke Ellington, Lester Young, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Ben Webster, Charles Mingus, Chet Baker, and Art Pepper. I finished each chapter with an indelible ...more
The introduction to Geoff Dyer’s “But Beautiful: A Book About Jazz” raises a few red flags: He excuses his impressionistic series of jazz biographies as an act of “improvisation,” a work of creative license in the spirit of the music that it describes. If you’ve read enough music writing, you’ve heard this one before.

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
I married a jazz man. Thanks, Geoff Dyer, for bringing me into the fold at last.

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
"But Beautiful: A Book About Jazz," published in 1996, is described by the author, Geoff Dyer, as “imaginative criticism as fiction.” Although some of the dialogue is invented, many of the scenes are based on well-known episodes in the lives of the early practitioners of American jazz. The book could be described as brief historical fiction or a literary improvisation on real-life themes.
Chapter by chapter, we get glimpses of the lives and music of Lester Young, Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington
Cailin Deery
“Despite all that has been said about jazz, it is anything but a hermetic form. What makes it a vital art form is its astonishing ability to absorb the history of which it is a part.”

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.
Apr 30, 2012 Dan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dan by: Tobias
Shelves: music
This is a remarkable book. It's one of the best pieces of writing that I have ever read, and it's not just because I love Jazz. The approach of the writing is what I'd call unconventional because it claims to be neither fiction or non-fiction, which is a safe tack for the author to take. Even though, the book is not diminished by the author telling the reader all of this out in the preface; he says, point-blank, that it's what he's doing. He is attempting to tell the stories of a handful of jazz ...more
I love Geoff Dyer, but upon finding this classified under "Fiction" (not with the music criticism and essays), I was more than skeptical. The epigram, "Not as they were, but as I imagine them." didn't help - how would this living, white, Englishman "imagine" these mostly black Americans? The first chapter had Lester Young being ordered by a Lieutenant to "throw it in the bin". Oh no!
Then, it turns out, it's great. I know less about jazz than Dyer does about how Americans refer to garbage collect
Simply, a fantastic and enormously inventive book about Jazz. A must for jazz fans. Others may not relate as it's an imaginative work and not a historical or critical work. For them I say listen to good jazz by the classic creators of the modern form (1940s, 50s and 60s)for a few years and then read this. Classic creators = Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk etc... you've got a lot of pleasure awaiting you if you really connect with this amazing stream of music. But it takes some diggin ...more
David Ranney
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
My favorite Dyer yet. Interleaving chapters imagining the jazz greats from the inside out, with Duke Ellington able to triumph over all while so many succumb to the times. Heartbreaking, sad, tragic, painful, ultimately only a brit fan's imaginings and tribue... but beautiful, indeed. Here's the Dyer effect: I had the experience reading this book that it reminded me of this incredible ineffable experience I might have reading this incredible book.. which was the book I was reading. It made me im ...more
Ana CB
É melhor dizê-lo já: é um livro absolutamente brilhante. A escrita de Geoff Dyer é ao mesmo tempo fluida e rica, onírica e crua, descritiva e metafórica. Linha após linha vamos imaginando cada cena em pormenor, descobrindo a complexa personalidade de cada personagem camada por camada, conhecendo passo a passo a história do jazz e as suas características. Partindo de momentos e situações conhecidas da biografia de vários grandes intérpretes da música jazz, Dyer improvisa (ele próprio o afirma) à ...more
I've been looking for a book like this for the past seven years, believe it or not. Many of the great educators I have known in the arts have always referenced jazz music as being the epitome example of form when it comes to everything else - filmmaking, writing, etc. The author of BUT BEAUTIFUL nails this on the head. A mix of historical fact and flourishing fiction, Dryer imagines scenes from the lives of the greats: Hawkins, Armstrong, Coltrane, to name only a few. From long days on the road ...more
This is touted as the best book ever written about jazz, and I believe it is. It certainly is the most beautifully written one I've ever read. Most of the book is the ruminations of a particular jazz figure, as imagined by the author, or as found in biographies, autobiographies. The last section is a more scholarly section on current jazz which I also found quite informative.
Paul Secor
Lester Young, Billie Holiday, Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington, Art Pepper, and others told their stories through their instruments. Geoff Dyer tries to flesh out their stories through words, but he doesn't have the chops to do it.
Ilse Wouters
I recently received this book as a present, and I just had to put aside all the books I was reading at the moment to read this one, and so glad I did so! The book consists of separate chapters illustrating the life - very often quite agitated - of several jazz greats (Mingus, Lester Young, Monk,...) and in between these chapters episodes of a written "road movie" featuring Duke Ellington. Everyone more or less familiar with the music from these musicians will enjoy this book, as it allows us to ...more
Jazz lovers would probably like this book a lot. Geoff Dyer writes beautifully. But for me it just felt as though the book went on and on and on ... a bit like jazz.
Nasim Marie
I loved 'But Beautiful', there are images that will stay with me for a long time, though it felt a little repetitive at times. I think I might have got more from it if I'd known more about the individual musicians before reading it, if that makes sense. Towards the end, lamenting the lack of good writing on jazz, Dyer describes Michael Ondaatje's novel 'Coming through Slaughter' as a masterpiece. I hadn't heard of it and got it from the library as soon as I could. I found the Ondaatje novel inte ...more
Alison Peacock
The words in this book swirl and serve and wail and whisper and whimper and curl around your shivering chattering soul like a blanket, much like the jazz they revere and the tortured souls depicted within the curve of each vignette. I have always felt that fiction tells more truth than non-fiction, and this strange melange of truth and fantasy may very well tell a more complete story of the torment behind all those horns and keys and compositions than all the biographies for the Pres, Chet, the ...more
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Geoff Dyer was born in Cheltenham, England, in 1958. He was educated at the local Grammar School and Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He is the author of four novels: Paris Trance, The Search, The Colour of Memory, and, most recently, Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi; a critical study of John Berger, Ways of Telling; five genre-defying titles: But Beautiful (winner of a 1992 Somerset Maugham Prize ...more
More about Geoff Dyer...
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“He [Thelonious Monk] played each note as though astonished by the previous one, as though every touch of his fingers on the keyboard was correcting an error and this touch in turn became an error to be corrected and so the tune never quite ended up the way it was meant to.” 7 likes
“At some time all cities have this feel: in London it's at five or six on a winer evening. Paris has it too, late, when the cafes are closing up. In New York it can happen anytime: early in the morning as the light climbs over the canyon streets and the avenues stretch so far into the distance that it seems the whole world is city; or now, as the chimes of midnight hang in the rain and all the city's longings acquire the clarity and certainty of sudden understanding. The day coming to an end and people unable to evade any longer the nagging sense of futility that has been growing stronger through the day, knowing that they will feel better when they wake up and it is daylight again but knowing also that each day leads to this sense of quiet isolation. Whether the plates have been stacked neatly away or the sink is cluttered with unwashed dishes makes no difference because all these details--the clothes hanging in the closet, the sheets on the bed--tell the same story--a story in which they walk to the window and look out at the rain-lit streets, wondering how many other people are looking out like this, people who look forward to Monday because the weekdays have a purpose which vanishes at the weekend when there is only the laundry and the papers. And knowing also that these thoughts do not represent any kind of revelation because by now they have themselves become part of the same routine of bearable despair, a summing up that is all the time dissolving into everyday. A time in the day when it is possible to regret everything and nothing in the same breath, when the only wish of all bachelors is that there was someone who loved them, who was thinking of them even if she was on the other side of the world. When a woman, feeling the city falling damp around her, hearing music from a radio somewhere, looks up and imagines the lives being led behind the yellow-lighted windows: a man at his sink, a family crowded together around a television, lovers drawing curtains, someone at his desk, hearing the same tune on the radio, writing these words.” 4 likes
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