So Good: Art Pepper

The seventh and final chapter of “But Beautiful,” by Geoff Dyer deals with Art Pepper. My guess is that Dyer put him last because he seems to embody so much of the other six players – his sound has hints of each, and his life had chaos and jail and tragedy to burn. ~FIN~ There is an afterword that discusses the major themes in jazz history, and also includes a great discography that I’ll be listening through, perhaps over years. I didn’t know some of these players, but I know them now, far better than I would have by simply listening. I’m going to miss this book. You really should pick it up. More video accompaniment to the jazz artists in Geoff Dyer’s “But Beautiful”: http://www.errico.com/tag/but-beautiful/ More So Good:...

So Good: Chet Baker

Chapter six of “But Beautiful,” by Geoff Dyer finds a way into the void of Chet Baker’s tone, vocally as well as on the horn. He’s just…gone, ghost like and out of frame. A glimpse. More video accompaniment to the jazz artists in Geoff Dyer’s “But Beautiful”: http://www.errico.com/tag/but-beautiful/ More So Good:...

So Good: Charles Mingus

Chapter five of “But Beautiful,” by Geoff Dyer: Mingus is hard. There’s a bullying, angry quality to him, an angular poke in the chest at each chord change, a snarl in the attack of his bass. Meanwhile, the form feels like it’s deconstructing as he pushes it relentlessly forward. Dyer captures it in lines like, “If he had been a ship the ocean would have been in his way.” More video accompaniment to the jazz artists in Geoff Dyer’s “But Beautiful”: http://www.errico.com/tag/but-beautiful/ More So Good:...

So Good: Ben Webster

Chapter four of “But Beautiful,” by Geoff Dyer: I’ve had a love affair with Ben Webster from before this book, mostly from his recordings with Duke Ellington. His lines ache, swoop, then dissolve into breath and vibrato, as if they went up in smoke. To me, he is the sound of late nights. “If you love jazz, you have to love Ben. You could love jazz and not like Ornette, maybe not like Duke even, but it’s impossible to love jazz and not love Ben.” – Geoff Dyer, “But Beautiful” “When he played the blues or “In a Sentimental Mood,” you realize how irrelevant the entire notion of sentiment is. He was never cloying, because no matter how soft he played, that growl was always lurking somewhere.” – Geoff Dyer, “But Beautiful” More video accompaniment to the jazz artists in Geoff Dyer’s “But Beautiful”: http://www.errico.com/tag/but-beautiful/ More, because how can I not: “Perdido” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CeSrOAcTXI “Over the Rainbow” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXUOJa_XgGU w/Oscar Peterson, “I Got It Bad” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LUr6czjwlA “Cotton Tail” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_W1lQc_7yU Ben, Rehearsal in Holland, calling out arrangement, tempos etc. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEobA-dU1d0 More So Good:...

So Good: Bud Powell

Chapter three of “But Beautiful,” by Geoff Dyer is one of those reads where the subway is sitting at the Coney Island station, empty, by the time you look up. I don’t know if I can recommend it highly enough to fans of writing or fans of jazz. Dyer’s breathless descriptions capture the moments when Powell’s schizophrenia seeps in; when his genius is in full display; and when the best he can do is hold on tight while being hurdled from one extreme to the other. Wow. Just wow. (I picked this clip for the close-ups of his hands and face.) More video accompaniment to the jazz artists in Geoff Dyer’s “But Beautiful”: http://www.errico.com/tag/but-beautiful/ More So Good:...

So Good: Thelonious Monk

I’m now on chapter two of “But Beautiful,” by Geoff Dyer, and checking out Monk from a fresh angle. Those almost drunken clusters he plays kind of remind me of Tom Waits’ playing, though Tom does it for comedic, or at least theatrical, effect. This guy…I think it’s a lot more complicated than that. Watch the reactions of his band members, who are laying out. This kind of listening was a daily occurrence for them, and they’re still feeling the edge Monk rides. More video accompaniment to the jazz artists in Geoff Dyer’s “But Beautiful”: http://www.errico.com/tag/but-beautiful/ More So Good:...