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Stanley Crouch Parker biography reviewed

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OK -- if you guys like that sentence, please paraphrase it for me. I mean, what does it mean? I took a whack at that above in post #67; is that close to what you get from it or do you get something else? If so, what?

BTW, what I don't like about "razors for spurs," among other things, is that spurs are or can be damn sharp -- that's the point of them, so to speak, to spur along the horse by inflicting pain and threatening further pain. So Crouch is IMO just pumping up the volume here in a "writerly" manner, pouring hot sauce on top of hot sauce. I'm reminded of that young sportscaster's immortal phrase "'Boom!' goes the dynamite."

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BTW, what I don't like about "razors for spurs," among other things, is that spurs are or can be damn sharp -- that's the point of them, so to speak, to spur along the horse by inflicting pain and threatening further pain. So Crouch is IMO just pumping up the volume here in a "writerly" manner, pouring hot sauce on top of hot sauce. I'm reminded of that young sportscaster's immortal phrase "'Boom!' goes the dynamite."

You nailed it.

Trying to go for effects, and pouring those effects on by the ladle.

Nuff said ...

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Some here seem more receptive to the book than others. I'm prepared to keep an open mind about it. I hope those of you who get it early will offer us a more extensive review.

gregmo

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"a solution to a blues that wore razors for spurs”...ok, Bird was getting ridden by "the blues", and the blues he was wearing rode him like a cowboy, only a sadistic cowboy, because real spurs are more spike-y, which a straight razor is not, so a razor would cut straight through, a prolonged open wound and not just press/pierce/puncture. I grew up in a big rodeo town, so I get the analogy.

And the "solution", of course, is for the bronc to buck the cowboy, which is made all the more difficult by the fact that these spurs are slashing and gashing, not just poking and prodding. In fact, one could say that the bronc is doomed as soon as the chute is open, what with the cowboy using actual razors instead of real spurs.

And who is the "cowboy" aka "a blues"? Junk? White Folk? America? Life In General? Herb Jeffries?

It's just more Bird/Jazz as Wild/Old West, which is just as true as it is not, individually and collectively. And just as much romantic wishful thinking/projection as it is not. To say that Bird was a uniquely multifaceted human is putting it mildly. and to note that he was the ultimate hipster gunslinger is not inaccurate. Nor is it inaccurate to say that he was indeed a bucking bronc in a rodeo not of his own making being ridden by a cowboy/blues who used razors for spurs. I don't think that any of that is particularly wrong. But I don't think its in any way even remotely complete.

I said I didn't mind the sentence, and I don't. I fully get the image and think it says what it intends to say. I don't think that a book full of sentences like that, though, is going to make for a good Bird biography, especially since I grew up going to rodeos and watching westerns, and not once was Buster Smith, mastering etudes, or visiting with Varese part of the picture.

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I pretty much get the same from the sentence as Jim. I like the sentence, with its imagery and flow. But I wish Jim were writing the book.

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Jim's book would tell you to listen to all the records, read all the other books, follow all the leads (forwards and backwards), and figure it out by yourself, for yourself.

Counting forward and acknowledgements and index, that's what, 1/4 page, max?

Which would be a good bit longer than my other book, the Only Relationship Book You'll Ever Need, the one that's just a cover that says Men Are Self-Absorbed Assholes, Women Are Psychotic Bitches.

The publishing industry would not find me a good investment. :g

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Hey yes they would, they could use the MP3 download model and charge nearly as much for your book as a standard book.

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ooooh...a RUSE! Count me in! :g

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OK -- if you guys like that sentence, please paraphrase it for me. I mean, what does it mean? I took a whack at that above in post #67; is that close to what you get from it or do you get something else? If so, what?

BTW, what I don't like about "razors for spurs," among other things, is that spurs are or can be damn sharp -- that's the point of them, so to speak, to spur along the horse by inflicting pain and threatening further pain. So Crouch is IMO just pumping up the volume here in a "writerly" manner, pouring hot sauce on top of hot sauce. I'm reminded of that young sportscaster's immortal phrase "'Boom!' goes the dynamite."

I like the way it sounds. Writing to me is a musical activity. It's poetry, and should be regarded as such. So I guess what I want to say is that I like being "writerly" when it is done well, and IMO that sentence is done well. If you try to logically deconstruct it, you're right, there will be another way to say it. But sometimes hot sauce needs to be poured on top of hot sauce.

I've never enjoyed Crouch's musical criticism or his public persona, but I'm holding out hope that Parker is now going to get the biography he deserves. I think Crouch *might* (with emphasis on might) be the right kind of writer for the job.

Edited by Face of the Bass

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I'll spend the time I would have spent reading Crouch listening to Bird instead. And I'll be a happy man. No doubt some others will see (and read) it differently.

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I'll spend the time I would have spent reading Crouch listening to Bird instead. And I'll be a happy man. No doubt some others will see (and read) it differently.

I'm not a partisan one way or the other (though now, it's Jim who's been suggested to rewrite the book!), but one could conceivably do both of these at once--read the book while listening to Bird!

gregmo

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I'll spend the time I would have spent reading Crouch listening to Bird instead. And I'll be a happy man. No doubt some others will see (and read) it differently.

I'm not a partisan one way or the other (though now, it's Jim who's been suggested to rewrite the book!), but one could conceivably do both of these at once--read the book while listening to Bird!

gregmo

One could, but if I did I'd end up giving Crouch more attention than Bird and that ain't right.

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A review of two new books (including the Crouch) on Bird in The Kansas City Star

http://www.kansascity.com/2013/09/07/4465022/two-complementary-bios-of-charlie.html

The article also features an AP photo of Charlie Parker taken by the great photographer Jean-Jacques Levy who died a couple of years ago. Photo taken in Paris in 1949. Levy was a scandalously neglected master of news photograohy. He was also a very good friend.

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A review of two new books (including the Crouch) on Bird in The Kansas City Star

http://www.kansascity.com/2013/09/07/4465022/two-complementary-bios-of-charlie.html

The article also features an AP photo of Charlie Parker taken by the great photographer Jean-Jacques Levy who died a couple of years ago. Photo taken in Paris in 1949. Levy was a scandalously neglected master of news photograohy. He was also a very good friend.

So ... a question to those whom might be able to judge:

How would the Bird book by Chuck Haddix rate overall (and in comparison), then?

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A review of two new books (including the Crouch) on Bird in The Kansas City Star

http://www.kansascity.com/2013/09/07/4465022/two-complementary-bios-of-charlie.html

The article also features an AP photo of Charlie Parker taken by the great photographer Jean-Jacques Levy who died a couple of years ago. Photo taken in Paris in 1949. Levy was a scandalously neglected master of news photograohy. He was also a very good friend.

Thanks for the links!

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Of the books about Parker that I know, this sober one seems quite sound to me (and often insightful, especially about the music itself) as far it goes:

http://www.amazon.com/Chasin-The-Bird-Legacy-Charlie/dp/0195304640/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

Some fellow on Amazon put it down in comparison to Ross Russell's "Bird Lives!," which is certainly colorful but full of outright fabulations.

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"A solution to a blues that wore razors for spurs" is not only a mixed metaphor, but a an inappropriate one, considering that spurs are are associated with a form of transportation that was (largely) outmoded, while Parker's music was all about progress and new directions.

I first became aware of Crouch through liner notes on reissued jazz LPs and didn't care for what he had to say then. I was finished with him after the Ken Burns debacle.

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I first became aware of Crouch through liner notes on reissued jazz LPs and didn't care for what he had to say then. I was finished with him after the Ken Burns debacle.

And his contribution to the interview/concert film of Miles' Isle of Wight performance. What a dick. No more Stanley Crotch for me as well.

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As I may have said here before, I've had two semi-direct encounters with Crouch, both perhaps revealing. The second one: I'm at the Chicago Tribune in the mid or late 1980s, writing about jazz. The phone rings, and it's Stanley; he's at the Ragdale Foundation in north suburban Lake Forest, an artist's colony a la Yadoo, working on a book. He starts to chat about jazz (we've never talked before), and he obviously knows something about my background because almost out of nowhere he launches into a steamroller attack on Lester Bowie, making a point that I think he already had made or would make in print -- that he heard Bowie play "Well You Needn't" and Bowie used the much less-complex bridge that Miles came up with for the tune way back when rather than the bridge that Monk actually wrote, and that this was proof that Bowie was incompetent, a fraud, etc. I immediately sensed (or so I thought) was Crouch was up to -- it was not so much that he wanted agreement from me on this but that if he could spew out this attack on Bowie with me on the line and I didn't stop him, he could think, maybe even say, that I had agreed with him. So I interrupted to say that I thought that Lester Bowie was a remarkable musician etc., that Miles had come up with that simplified bridge, just as he had simplified the bridge to Benny Carter's "When Lights Are Low" because in both cases those simplifications were better suited to what Miles wanted to play when improvising on those pieces, etc. Hearing that, Stanley, without a further word, hung up the phone.

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As I may have said here before, I've had two semi-direct encounters with Crouch, both perhaps revealing. The second one: I'm at the Chicago Tribune in the mid or late 1980s, writing about jazz. The phone rings, and it's Stanley; he's at the Ragdale Foundation in north suburban Lake Forest, an artist's colony a la Yadoo, working on a book. He starts to chat about jazz (we've never talked before), and he obviously knows something about my background because almost out of nowhere he launches into a steamroller attack on Lester Bowie, making a point that I think he already had made or would make in print -- that he heard Bowie play "Well You Needn't" and Bowie used the much less-complex bridge that Miles came up with for the tune way back when rather than the bridge that Monk actually wrote, and that this was proof that Bowie was incompetent, a fraud, etc. I immediately sensed (or so I thought) was Crouch was up to -- it was not so much that he wanted agreement from me on this but that if he could spew out this attack on Bowie with me on the line and I didn't stop him, he could think, maybe even say, that I had agreed with him. So I interrupted to say that I thought that Lester Bowie was a remarkable musician etc., that Miles had come up with that simplified bridge, just as he had simplified the bridge to Benny Carter's "When Lights Are Low" because in both cases those simplifications were better suited to what Miles wanted to play when improvising on those pieces, etc. Hearing that, Stanley, without a further word, hung up the phone.

I have met Stanley Crouch one time back I think in 2009 when Bobby Bradford came to NYC to play the Jazz Standard and I was fortunate enough top be able to attend the early show on Saturday night. The band assembled for that night was the reason I HAD to be at that show: Bobby with David Murray on tenor saxophone, Marty Ehrlich on alto saxophone and clarinet, Mark Dresser on bass and Andrew Cyrille on drums.

I was itting by the wall with my wife stage left, I guess and Mr. Crouch sat down directy across from me at my table shortly before the show was to start and he ordered dinner and was eating as the set began. As the band started getting into a groove maybe during the 2nd tune (they played 3 or 4 compositions - all of them stretched out as the set was probably 70 - 75 minutes in length), and I think Ehrlich started in on one of those emotionally searching, blues drenched, expressive and angular as all hell solos/excursion on clarinet as he is wont to do when he is inspired - and if my recollection is correct, Dresser end up in some way out, incredible interplay with the great reedman - and I think Stanley at one point, might have twisted a muscle in his neck and he HAD to tunr to see who or what was interrupting his dinner with some extraordinary improvisation of the sort that he had long since stopped experiencing due to his obstinate willful rejected of anything that didn't fit his agenda. I know he knew he heard brilliance - but unfortunately for him, it wasn't coming from the right musicians.

Nice to have seen first hand that despite his supposed convictions, I saw the truth that night in an instant as anyone with a heart and even a closed mind who was there for that set know there was brilliance on those 2 musicians (and the others - especially Bradford), but two musicians who STILL - rarely are seen inside on a stage in a major jazz venue.

as still the agenda rules - I guess they have to get to 70 plus like a few others to be welcomed into the codified jazz mainstream

or maybe they have to wear suits

Standing on a Whale Fising for Minnows

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My one encounter with Stanley Crouch was back in the late 80's at the 4th St. Tower records in Manhattan. I was looking for some music to buy, spotted him, and decided to eavesdrop. He was speaking with a young woman and what I heard was, "Ms. ----, have you heard Wynton Marsalis' new record?"

Reinforced my opinion of him as a a pimp for Wynton's music.

Edited by paul secor

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Of the books about Parker that I know, this sober one seems quite sound to me (and often insightful, especially about the music itself) as far it goes:

http://www.amazon.com/Chasin-The-Bird-Legacy-Charlie/dp/0195304640/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

Some fellow on Amazon put it down in comparison to Ross Russell's "Bird Lives!," which is certainly colorful but full of outright fabulations.

Larry

Did you read the Carl Woideck book on Parker?

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As I may have said here before, I've had two semi-direct encounters with Crouch, both perhaps revealing. The second one: I'm at the Chicago Tribune in the mid or late 1980s, writing about jazz. The phone rings, and it's Stanley; he's at the Ragdale Foundation in north suburban Lake Forest, an artist's colony a la Yadoo, working on a book. He starts to chat about jazz (we've never talked before), and he obviously knows something about my background because almost out of nowhere he launches into a steamroller attack on Lester Bowie, making a point that I think he already had made or would make in print -- that he heard Bowie play "Well You Needn't" and Bowie used the much less-complex bridge that Miles came up with for the tune way back when rather than the bridge that Monk actually wrote, and that this was proof that Bowie was incompetent, a fraud, etc. I immediately sensed (or so I thought) was Crouch was up to -- it was not so much that he wanted agreement from me on this but that if he could spew out this attack on Bowie with me on the line and I didn't stop him, he could think, maybe even say, that I had agreed with him. So I interrupted to say that I thought that Lester Bowie was a remarkable musician etc., that Miles had come up with that simplified bridge, just as he had simplified the bridge to Benny Carter's "When Lights Are Low" because in both cases those simplifications were better suited to what Miles wanted to play when improvising on those pieces, etc. Hearing that, Stanley, without a further word, hung up the phone.

Sounds like you found a solution to a blues that used bubble bath spurs for hot lather shaving razors!

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Of the books about Parker that I know, this sober one seems quite sound to me (and often insightful, especially about the music itself) as far it goes:

http://www.amazon.com/Chasin-The-Bird-Legacy-Charlie/dp/0195304640/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

Some fellow on Amazon put it down in comparison to Ross Russell's "Bird Lives!," which is certainly colorful but full of outright fabulations.

Larry

Did you read the Carl Woideck book on Parker?

Yes. I recall feeling that it was solid but not quite as much so as the Priestley book. In particular, and I'm relying on imperfect memory here, Woideck, who certainly knows what's afoot musically, has the problem of a good many such writers (on jazz or any music) of essentially pointing to/explaining -- in musical notation and in words that more or less paraphrase what's notated -- things that one can already hear, and then he pretty much stops at the point, as though the job were done. Priestley by contrast, at his best, succeeds at/makes a good attempt at detecting underlying principles that are at work and their possible implications as well. I guess what I'm saying is that Woideck is more or less a musicologist, and Priestley is a musically well-versed critic. Not my favorite critic -- among those would be Jack Cooke, Terry Martin, John Litweiler, the late Michael James, and the professionally irascible Max Harrison on one of his good days, but Priestley has some of the virtues (e.g. the understanding that one is running alongside a living art that, in Val Wilmer's phrase, is "as important as your life") of the old Jazz Monthly crowd -- to which he and the others I've mentioned (except for Litweiler) all belonged at one time or another.

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