by Geoff Dyer North Point Press, 1996 0-865-47490-7
At first glance, Geoff Dyer's But Beautiful appears to be a collection of biographical essays. It's not. In his portraits of jazz luminaries like Bud Powell, Chet Baker, Charles Mingus, and Ben Webster, the author plays sufficiently fast and loose with the facts to qualify as a fiction writer, and a brilliant one. It's hard to explain how he does itin fact, the very idea of a young British novelist inflating Thelonious Monk's life with poetic ether was enough to make me shudder. Yet Dyer has pulled it off: these are elegant and moving vignettes that capture the feeling of music with eerie precision. Here he is on Monk's technique: "He didn't play the piano really. His body was his instrument and the piano was just a means of getting the sound out of his body at the rate and in the quantities he wanted." Enough said.
I love jazz because transports me to another reality.
I was first exposed to jazz a concert on the lake many years ago.
I met many musicians at various international jazz festivals.
The best show I ever attended was Jazzascona in Suisse.
The first jazz record I bought was Miles Davis and John Coltrane.
My advice to new listeners is listen to music with an open mind.
Listen, think and share jazz everywhere.