Matthew

Peter Pullman-- Bud Powell Biography

239 posts in this topic

Yes. Most recent news is good news. It will take time for the book to emerge, but all barriers other than the practical ones that stand in the way of production of all books, and academic press books in particular, have been removed. The book itself is better than most of us would have dared hope.

Thanks Larry. Now my curosity is really peaked! Can you give us a clue as to what is included? Does it read like a biography? More like an academic analysis of the music? What's Pullman's approach?

Post of mine from May 2007 on this thread:

I've been playing something of an informal advisory-editorial role here. The book is completed and is IMO excellent -- everything one could wish for when it comes to nailing down facts, sorting out myth from reality, establishing social context, etc., etc. Pullman's labors here are almost awe-inspiring in their thoroughness, and no less important, their scrupulousness. In particular (and I think this was a very wise choice), Pullman doesn't presume to be able to read Powell's mind. Also the book is not, nor is it intended to be, a book in which Powell's music is analyzed. Pullman writes very well. The density of information is at a very high level when such information exists and can be dug up (and information of that density is what most people like us would want, I think), but the book certainly flows and has moments of high drama.

Wow! This does sound great! Thanks again.

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Good news. Would one year be a possibility?

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Good news. Would one year be a possibility?

More like two.

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Good news. Would one year be a possibility?

More like two.

So much for my idea of fighting my way out of debt by writing a book.

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just curious, Larry, but I am wondering, if you can disclose such things, if the book tries in any way to diagnose Bud's condition? I'm thinking about this today because I just had a very interesting discussion with Peter Muir, who is not only a music scholar but a psychologist who deals with autism/aspergers, and he agreed with me (and for this I have caught some major flack on another board) that both Bud and Monk had some form of autism/aspergers - as many high functioning creative people do -

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just curious, Larry, but I am wondering, if you can disclose such things, if the book tries in any way to diagnose Bud's condition? I'm thinking about this today because I just had a very interesting discussion with Peter Muir, who is not only a music scholar but a psychologist who deals with autism/aspergers, and he agreed with me (and for this I have caught some major flack on another board) that both Bud and Monk had some form of autism/aspergers - as many high functioning creative people do -

Allen, that fascinates me, as our son is autistic, and I have known several people who are higher functioning and have Aspergers. What leads you and Dr. Muir to think that certain musicians have some form of autism/Aspergers?

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I have an aspergers son who is diagnosed as having PDD - Pervasive Development Disorder, which is different than classic autism, though there are many areas in which they coincide - I have to go out and can maybe post more later, apologies (or maybe we can talk on the phone, as it gets involved) - however, it involves inability to read social cues, sensory defensiveness (add Lester Young here, who used to wear bedroom slippers to recording sessions), an ability to be extremely good at some things while having certain (sometimes very large) social deficits - an ability to concentrate amazingly on certain things while showing attentional deficits in other areas, the desire to have ONLY your own agenda and to insist everyone else cater to it - these are short hand signs, but it all adds up to very significant manifestations of aspergers - Monk's whole persona, his complete self involvement (put a mirror overhead so he could just stare at his own hands) his in and out personality - clear signs, as Muir said, that "Monk was autistic."

Edited by AllenLowe

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I have an aspergers son who is diagnosed as having PDD - Pervasive Development Disorder, which is different than classic autism, though there are many areas in which they coincide - I have to go out and can maybe post more later, apologies (or maybe we can talk on the phone, as it gets involved) - however, it involves inability to read social cues, sensory defensiveness (add Lester Young here, who used to wear bedroom slippers to recording sessions), an ability to be extremely good at some things while having certain (sometimes very large) social deficits - an ability to concentrate amazingly on certain things while showing attentional deficits in other areas, the desire to have ONLY your own agenda and to insist everyone else cater to it - these are short hand signs, but it all adds up to very significant manifestations of aspergers - Monk's whole persona, his complete self involvement (put a mirror overhead so he could just stare at his own hands) his in and out personality - clear signs, as Muir said, that "Monk was autistic."

I have not known anyone who had Asperger's and could function well enough to get to the level that Lester Young and Monk were on. The Asperger's people I know talk a great deal, with no filter or brake on it, no social sense of when to stop. They are very insistent about everyone doing what they want, but not toward any positive goal.

However, I know that there is a wide variation in degrees of impairment in the "autism/Asperger's spectrum".

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just curious, Larry, but I am wondering, if you can disclose such things, if the book tries in any way to diagnose Bud's condition? I'm thinking about this today because I just had a very interesting discussion with Peter Muir, who is not only a music scholar but a psychologist who deals with autism/aspergers, and he agreed with me (and for this I have caught some major flack on another board) that both Bud and Monk had some form of autism/aspergers - as many high functioning creative people do -

Pullman specifically, and I think wisely, does not try to do that. Rather, he gathers and carefully sifts through on a purely factual basis (I know "purely" is a problem, but it will have to do until you read the book) every bit of information about what Powell did when, and who did what to and with Powell when, that can be gathered (for example, the various diagnoses/comments of the psychiatric personnel who dealt with Powell are present in book verbatim; nothing is suppressed), plus tons of relevant social and jazz scene of the times context. This approach was crucial and wise, I think, because there is so much gross factual misinformation out there -- some of it malicious, some of it not openly malicious but drenched in romantic fantasies -- and also because one just can't "know" what was going on inside the head of a man like Powell or Monk; therefore, in a case where so much ground needs to be cleared, a mingling of carefully sifted fact and authorial speculation might be pernicious . The level of factual detail is just mind-boggling, almost all of it relevant and fascinating. Finally, those of us who do want or need to speculate can do so now with much more clarity than before, just as one could speculate far more clearly about Bix after reading Sudhalter and Evans' biography of him.

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just curious, Larry, but I am wondering, if you can disclose such things, if the book tries in any way to diagnose Bud's condition? I'm thinking about this today because I just had a very interesting discussion with Peter Muir, who is not only a music scholar but a psychologist who deals with autism/aspergers, and he agreed with me (and for this I have caught some major flack on another board) that both Bud and Monk had some form of autism/aspergers - as many high functioning creative people do -

Pullman specifically, and I think wisely, does not try to do that. Rather, he gathers and carefully sifts through on a purely factual basis (I know "purely" is a problem, but it will have to do until you read the book) every bit of information about what Powell did when, and who did what to and with Powell when, that can be gathered (for example, the various diagnoses/comments of the psychiatric personnel who dealt with Powell are present in book verbatim; nothing is suppressed), plus tons of relevant social and jazz scene of the times context. This approach was crucial and wise, I think, because there is so much gross factual misinformation out there -- some of it malicious, some of it not openly malicious but drenched in romantic fantasies -- and also because one just can't "know" what was going on inside the head of a man like Powell or Monk; therefore, in a case where so much ground needs to be cleared, a mingling of carefully sifted fact and authorial speculation might be pernicious . The level of factual detail is just mind-boggling, almost all of it relevant and fascinating. Finally, those of us who do want or need to speculate can do so now with much more clarity than before, just as one could speculate far more clearly about Bix after reading Sudhalter and Evans' biography of him.

That strikes me as an excellent approach for Pullman to have taken. With that type of detailed information, those who have worked with, or been around, people with various serious disabilities will proabably have moments of recognition, and will also be able to point out how a certain diagnosis doesn't completely fit.

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This book will definitely be at the top of my list. I can't wait. Larry, you should get Peter on the board so we can wrings some juicy details from him before it comes out! :crazy:

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interesting, can't wait - should mention that Peter Muir runs an organization that deals with autistic kids who are musical, and described one as an absolute piano prodigy who can play any piece of music put in front of him - once one recognizes the symptoms of PDD/Aspergers, a lot of things become clear - Benny Goodman, for an example, who was classic in many ways, who had plenty of the characteristics - I'm always haunted, as well, by what Walter Bishop told me about Bud, that, aside from music, he needed help to do everything - Bish described him as "infantile." Think of, also, how socially inept so many creative people are - it (asperger's) is something that, as Muir told me, manifests itself in many ways both subtle and obvious - I'll probably be interviewing him for my film, so there will be lots more on the subject -

realize, also, that the drug and alcohol abuse that many of these guys suffered was likely a form of self-medication -

I will add that, when you have spent as much time as I have around semi-disfunctional jazz musicians (and I would say that at one point in my life I spent the majority of my time as such - and this was before I was playing very much) you really recognize the signs, even in retrospect -

Edited by AllenLowe

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Thanks for the update, Larry. Sounds as if it will definitely be worth the wait.

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I know there are board members who know Mr. Pullman, so my question is: Is this book still going forward, or has the present economic condition postponed this indefinitely? This in the one jazz book that I'm really looking forward to.

Edited by Matthew

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The last time I was in touch with Peter, I got the impression that it was almost ready to go to the printer. That, however, was a long time ago. Larry i right about Peter being super meticulous and I can see him having a hard time letting go—there is always new stuff around the corner.

I will attempt to contact Peter (I think he's still in Europe) and find out what the status is.

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The last time I was in touch with Peter, I got the impression that it was almost ready to go to the printer. That, however, was a long time ago. Larry i right about Peter being super meticulous and I can see him having a hard time letting go—there is always new stuff around the corner.

I will attempt to contact Peter (I think he's still in Europe) and find out what the status is.

:tup Thanks a 1,000,000 Chris :tup

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yes, we need to see that book before it ends up filed with Keepnews' Monk bio -

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This'll come out about the same time as Chambers book on Twardzik (Bouncin' With Bartok).

Actually, it'll be much later, since Chambers' book has been out for several months; it's very good. I got mine through Amazon.

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yes, we need to see that book before it ends up filed with Keepnews' Monk bio -

I really hope Peter's Monk book is on permanent hold, because I don't see how he could write an honest book without stripping off some of Orrin's self-serving embellishments. Seriously.

I wonder what happened to Robin Kelley's Monk biography, "Thelonious: a Life." It's been a long time coming and is, I believe scheduled for publication this year..

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true, true -

beyond that (and I should write this in small print in case Peter Keepnews is reading this site) I remember once that an excerpt from the Monk bio was actually printed in the Voice - and it just was not, sadly, very good at all -

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Shouldn't be too long now it's got an ISBN and amazon listing …

Amazon listing

I'm pretty sure that's the same listing that's been up for a long time, esp. given the publisher listed (it's no longer coming out through them). Sorry to heap disappointment on your post--believe me, I really want to read this book too.

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