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Fer Urbina

RIP Gene Lees (1928-2010)

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RIP. I've enjoyed Gene's writing.

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Sorry to hear this!

I enjoyed his writings.

He will be missed!

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this is a shocker - he annoyed the crap out of me (see his old Diane Krall interview; also his statements on Joyce and modernism) but he was an excellent interviewer, a triumph of observation and native intelligence over his own middle-brow tendencies.

Edited by AllenLowe

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He was a fine writer. As a reader who didn't know him personally, I would argue with him in my head if my opinions went against his, and as Doug Ramsey said, arguing with him was a valuable experience. "Singers and the Song" is a classic. R.I.P.

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Dang, and of course no Canadian news outlet has reported this yet. :angry:

A few years ago I was driving to a teaching gig and I heard the Evans/Bennett recording of "Waltz for Debby" for the umpteenth time. But this time I was stuck in traffic and I really listened to the lyrics.

Maybe because I have a young daughter and I was thinking of how she'd grow up, the possibilities etc,. But then and there, Gene's lyrics just floored me with their depth and human understanding.

RIP :(

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Sorry to hear about Genes Lees. R.I.P. He was a very good writer and lyricist (and Canadian, too).

I have several of his books, including his bios of Oscar Peterson and Woody Herman. He was, in my mind, more of a reflective writer rather than a historical researcher. These books spend much time on the period when Lees had professional and personal interaction with these players, rather than giving a balanced view of their careers. For example, the Peterson book talks a lot about the trio with Herb Ellis, but glosses over Peterson's even longer association with Joe Pass. Still, these books are very interesting and contain a good deal of historical information.

Lees' masterpiece IMO was "Meet Me at Jim and Andy's." The word portraits of Paul Desmond, Bill Evans and Frank Rosolino (among others) in that book are very memorable and often very moving.

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Sad to hear. I was just reading his essay on Dizzy Gillespie in his book "You Can't Steal a Gift" last week.

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perfect example of what's wrong and right with Lees - good interview, but a black musician telling a white writer what he wants to hear - that jazz is color blind, yadda yadda yadda - not that Dizzy was insincere, but black musicians almost never really talk to white writers the way they talk to other musicians.

just my opinion.

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notes_and_tones.jpg

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perfect example of what's wrong and right with Lees - good interview, but a black musician telling a white writer what he wants to hear - that jazz is color blind, yadda yadda yadda - not that Dizzy was insincere, but black musicians almost never really talk to white writers the way they talk to other musicians.

just my opinion.

Gene Lees wrote a book about reverse racism in jazz. The topic intrigued me, but I never read the book.

Lees was so-so as a lyricist. His Jobim lyrics were about a thousand times better than Ray Gilbert's, but never up to the poetic quality of the Portuguese. It's a real crime that Jobim didn't get an English lyricist worthy of his music.

Lees wrote a piece about the German and French roots of English words that was really interesting. He mentioned how rhyming words even affect word associations in non-rhyming contexts.

HIs opinions and writing sometimes bugged me - He could come off as precious and snobbish.

And the stuff he said about Les Baxter was total bullshit.

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Gene Lees' interviewing skills were his strong suit. His professional connections with composers, lyricists, and players allow him greater access to their guarded interiors. Lees' presence was relaxed and, to a fault, often name-droppingly chummy with his subjects. By developing such a personable, collegial dialogue, Lees could penetrate to the core and extract nuggets like no other.

Yes, Lees was often running with the same coterie of chums, but when your company is Paul Desmond, Gerry Mulligan, Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson, Bobby Scott, Bill Crow, and Johnny Mercer -- the reader is along for a nice ride. This lulled the reader into Lees' relaxed conversations -- to the point of having a mild delusion of affiliation and friendship with his pals. 'Meet Me at Jim and Andy's' will make you feel like a regular, sitting close enough to hear the cats shooting the breeze.

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Back in the day I received many hours of enjoyment from the Jazz Letter.

R.I.P.

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Lees' masterpiece IMO was "Meet Me at Jim and Andy's." The word portraits of Paul Desmond, Bill Evans and Frank Rosolino (among others) in that book are very memorable and often very moving.

I enjoyed that one a lot, too - particularly the Paul Desmond longest pun in the world.

RIP Gene.

MG

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A few years ago I was driving to a teaching gig and I heard the Evans/Bennett recording of "Waltz for Debby" for the umpteenth time. But this time I was stuck in traffic and I really listened to the lyrics.

Maybe because I have a young daughter and I was thinking of how she'd grow up, the possibilities etc,. But then and there, Gene's lyrics just floored me with their depth and human understanding.

RIP :(

I remember thinking that the very first time I heard that song. That was my intro to Gene Lees.

I always enjoyed his lyrics for Jobim; always felt like he captured the spirit of the song, if not being technically correct (always liked the "and now all I have developed is a complex" line in order to rhyme with "Rolliflex"). I guess I need to read some of his books, because I've never seen some of the more inflammatory comments mentioned here. But then, all I've ever read are his liner notes, which I really enjoyed (particularly his notes for various Paul Desmond albums).

RIP indeed.

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by the way, he also has an excellent piece on Frank Rosolino in one of his collections, post-murder.

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I remember one review/article on Ellington's band, the whole point of which was that they were rude people, and Duke didn't seem to care.

He could write, though sometimes I wondered what he was trying to say, really.

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Stanley Dance seemed to have a (not unwarranted, imo) real bug up his butt about Lees' gushing enthusiasm for "middle class" or "polite" jazzpeople.

IMO, that was what gave him his (very real) strength when he wrote about them & what fucked him up when he didn't.

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Bit of a shock. Yes, the more of his stuff I read, the more limited and sentimental it began to seem. The guy had his blind spots, and his stuff got rather annoyingly personal after a while; but he could also be a very good writer at times. Sorry to see him go. RIP

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Bill Kirchner will be devoting his monthly edition of WBGO's Jazz From the Archives to Lees:

Recently, I taped my next one-hour show for the "Jazz From The Archives"

series. Presented by the Institute of Jazz Studies, the series runs every

Sunday on WBGO-FM (88.3).

Gene Lees (1928-2010) was one of jazz's foremost essayists and biographers. And he

wrote liner notes for a number of classic jazz albums: John Coltrane's BALLADS, Bill

Evans' CONVERSATIONS WITH MYSELF and AT THE MONTREUX JAZZ FESTIVAL, THE

INDIVIDUALISM OF GIL EVANS, and GETZ/GILBERTO, among others.

Lees also wrote memorable lyrics to music by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Bill Evans, Milton

Nascimento, Lalo Schifrin, Roger Kellaway, Charles Aznavour, Manuel DeSica, and others.

We'll hear performances of some of those songs--some well-known, others obscure--by Frank

Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Jackie Cain, Rita Reys, Nancy Wilson, and Lees himself.

The show will air this Sunday, July 18, from 11 p.m. to midnight, Eastern Daylight Time.

NOTE: If you live outside the New York City metropolitan area, WBGO also

broadcasts on the Internet at www.wbgo.org.

Best,

Bill Kirchner

http://www.jazzsuite.com/

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