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MomsMobley

white englishman explains Coltrane '66

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Dyer's piece is stupid and rather thuggish, but what does his being a white Englishman have to do it? Max Harrison is a white Englishman and, at his best, as brilliant a jazz critic as we have. Jack Cooke likewise. And two of the best jazz critics I know personally are Terry Martin, a white Australian, and our own John Litweiler, a white American.

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LK, esteemed commenter, in theory, it shouldn't have anything to do with; in this instance, his thuggish drivel exacerbated by cultural ignorance/arrogance-- take your pick or choose both. didn't mean to imply there weren't excellent white critics & historians of myriad nationalities! (i'll leave NYRB's less-than-spectacular roster of black writers-- on any subjects-- for another discussion tho' that too is suggestive of how an editor would assign &/or accept this drivel.)

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Note to self - every time "Adorno" enters into the "reasoning", walk away. Just walk the fuck away.

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Mods, can you merge this with the other grumpy old men threads? ;)

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I've never had any use for Dyer's writing. Reading this hasn't changed my views.

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I think we should merge the grumpy old men and create a hybrid of cranky old farts. Feel free to use any of my own body parts as necessary. I believe that this will result in a super race of intellectual aging observers.

Edited by AllenLowe

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Mods Squad, I'm OK with changing subject line to more clearly place blame where its deserved:

* insipid NYRB critic Geoff Dyer

* idiotic and/or wholly-- but 'innocently'-- clueless New York Review Book editor(s)

Q: I wonder how many times, if any, Geoff has been to Philadelphia & what he did if was there.

One can, if they wish, make a musicological argument without knowing the Schuykill from the Delaware but that's not what this fucking simp is playing at here-- at all.

also, for Sunday morning--

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It's one of those reviews that you come away from knowing more about the writer than about the music.

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Are you guys serious??... I read that piece and it makes some interesting points, even though I may not agree with it, but someone somewhere took the time to listen to, think, and write something about what he heard. I'd hate to see a Twitter or Facebook type mob mentality take over here when somebody expresses in civilised terms their view of music.

And btw, I loved the photo at the top of that page!

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I respectfully disagree. It's legitimizing junk writing and criticism like this that keeps the ignorance flowing right into the minds of people who don't know any better and take essays like this at their word. It's damaging. Mainstream culture may never really get jazz right, but it never had to get is this wrong.

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Are you guys serious??... I read that piece and it makes some interesting points, even though I may not agree with it, but someone somewhere took the time to listen to, think, and write something about what he heard. I'd hate to see a Twitter or Facebook type mob mentality take over here when somebody expresses in civilised terms their view of music.

And btw, I loved the photo at the top of that page!

Bogdan, let's take it from top then. Music maestro, please!

Offering: Live at Temple University offers further evidence of the catastrophe of the last phase of John Coltrane’s work.

no comment.

“Last” rather than “late” because he became ill and died too suddenly (on July 17, 1967), too early, to have properly entered a late period. He was forty. In any other field of activity that would be a desperately short life. Only in jazz could it be considered broadly in line with actuarial norms.

Henry Purcell (1659-1695)-- age 36

Giovanni Pergolesi (1710-1736)-- age 26

Wolfgang Mozart (1756-1791)-- age 35

Franz Schubert (1797-1828)-- age 31

Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)-- age 38

Chopin (1810-1849)-- age 39

George Gershwin (1898-1937)-- age 38

etc etc i'll stop before World War II but hello, compare like to like, or would bringing musicians of similar historical stature into the conversation further reveal the author's idiocy rather than faux 'authority'?

"Actuarial" is bullshit diversion, like he's about to offer a deeply researched socio-aesthetic discourse... right. I'm not suggesting there isn't AMPLE room for aesthetic criticism of Coltrane-- if someone wants to go that route, hey, the narrow road is open-- but Dyer is an arrogant simp.

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Without trying to be leading or antagonistic, I truly wonder what he thinks of Brötzmann, Parker, Bailey, et al in the late 60s-early 70s, or the early AACM recordings, given that the "trap" of free jazz had "run it's course" as early as 1966?

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It's like when that black american blamed it all on acid.

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Are you guys serious??... I read that piece and it makes some interesting points, even though I may not agree with it, but someone somewhere took the time to listen to, think, and write something about what he heard. I'd hate to see a Twitter or Facebook type mob mentality take over here when somebody expresses in civilised terms their view of music.

And btw, I loved the photo at the top of that page!

Bogdan, let's take it from top then. Music maestro, please!

Offering: Live at Temple University offers further evidence of the catastrophe of the last phase of John Coltrane’s work.

no comment.

“Last” rather than “late” because he became ill and died too suddenly (on July 17, 1967), too early, to have properly entered a late period. He was forty. In any other field of activity that would be a desperately short life. Only in jazz could it be considered broadly in line with actuarial norms.

Henry Purcell (1659-1695)-- age 36

Giovanni Pergolesi (1710-1736)-- age 26

Wolfgang Mozart (1756-1791)-- age 35

Franz Schubert (1797-1828)-- age 31

Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)-- age 38

Chopin (1810-1849)-- age 39

George Gershwin (1898-1937)-- age 38

etc etc i'll stop before World War II but hello, compare like to like, or would bringing musicians of similar historical stature into the conversation further reveal the author's idiocy rather than faux 'authority'?

"Actuarial" is bullshit diversion, like he's about to offer a deeply researched socio-aesthetic discourse... right. I'm not suggesting there isn't AMPLE room for aesthetic criticism of Coltrane-- if someone wants to go that route, hey, the narrow road is open-- but Dyer is an arrogant simp.

I think you misunderstand the use of "catastrophe" here. It is in the sense from the Adorno quote down the page (“In the history of art late works are the catastrophe”), and it's not to be taken in it's simplistic pejorative sense meaning something "awfully bad".

I agree with you about the age analysis, he's wrong about that.

Oh, and I like this post much better than the first one in the thread :)

Edited by bogdan101

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The reference to age is a way to approach the question of whether and in what way this constitutes 'late work' on Adorno's (Beethoven) model. Whether people care to work though what that means - or whether indeed the author has - is another matter.

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Oh yeah, I read this drivel a little while ago. Ugh.

Max Harrison and Richard Williams are/were both very estimable jazz writers. I don't know Jack Cooke.

Edited by clifford_thornton

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I've never had any use for Dyer's writing. Reading this hasn't changed my views.

+1 in spades. As often happens, I agree with Moms's general drift, with some reservations about her (?) particular wording ( :tup on "turd", though :smirk: ).

Years ago, I bought Dyer's But Beautiful on the basis of some enthusiastic Internet reviews. I couldn't stand it (a "catastrophic" purchase subsequently donated to the local library), which may go to say that Dyer is capable of offending when writing about straight-ahead as well as avant-garde jazz!

Edited by T.D.

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I've never had any use for Dyer's writing. Reading this hasn't changed my views.

+1 in spades. As often happens, I agree with Moms's general drift, with some reservations about her (?) particular wording ( :tup on "turd", though :smirk: ).

Years ago, I bought Dyer's But Beautiful on the basis of some enthusiastic Internet reviews. I coudn't stand it (a "catastrophic" purchase subsequently donated to the local library), which may go to say that Dyer is capable of offending when writing about straight-ahead as well as avant-garde jazz!

My copy of But Beautiful ended up at the local library too. That was probably too kind a choice. It should have ended up in the recycle container.

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I'm tired of reading that blah-blah about the "late" period in musicians' lives, classical or jazz. It only makes sense when someone lived a long life and was not torn out of it by an accident or disease or whatever. There was a development in Coltrane's music, it's evident, and he was headed somewhere, and you can sense it, but we will never know what it would have sounded like, we have only hints in his last recordings.

Joachim Berendt once wrote a whole book (in German) about the "mystery of the late works" - it was rather mislead due to his superficial knowledge of the life and works of classical composers, and sank without a trace.

I'm also tiredof reading judgements about Trane's last rcordings in comparison to his earlier work - some are content to elaborate on what they started out with, some others move on, like Trane.


I read But beautiful and thought it was a nice book to give someone outside of the jazz fan scene an impression of the jazz life. Take it as fiction closely based on biographical facts.

Dyer was boosted by Keith Jarrett's raving comments about the book - maybe that's his mistified view of the jazz scene, now that he is more or less removed from it at the top of the game.


The German translation of But Beautiful was a catastrophe, btw.

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"Late life" is a very relative concept anyway. Some reach a phase of maturity (or of an urge to "move on") earlier, some later. And evolution in one's overall works therefore differs.

However, the above rattling off of names of clasical composers from the 18th/19th century misses the point considerably IMO when they are supposed to be compared to the relatively early death of John Coltrane. Please have a look at the average life expectancy of the overall population in the respective countries/regions first before comparing the "early" deaths of those composers to the early death of someone living in the midst of the 20th century. Not sure if all this was always seen as that "desperately short" by all of the contemporaries of those composers to the same degree that later generations of lovers of the music mourn the short lives these celebrities led. Times WERE different ...

Edited by Big Beat Steve

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Is 'turd' now an acceptable response to any board member who posts something you don't like?

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Is 'turd' now an acceptable response to any board member who posts something you don't like?

I'll second that question. This is a public forum and the reference is to a named individual. The tone reflects on all of us.

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