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Face of the Bass

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  1. I'm just amazed that somebody could claim to be working on a biography for this many decades and then produce something that, with the exception of the included interviews, could have been written in a couple months. It's not necessarily that it's bad, it's that a definitive biography of Parker should not spend much space regurgitating things like Birth of a Nation or Jack Johnson.
  2. Yeah, as I kept reading this my opinion kept going down. It kind of feels like an essay that's been excessively padded, and his writing on American culture is really quite inane after awhile. It's a big disappointment.
  3. So far there's nothing full of shit or wrong about it. It's actually kind of standard and predictable. For instance he spends a few pages talking about Birth of a Nation even though it came out before Parker was born. I think he was trying to make a point about blackface in American culture, but it kind of fell flat and was an unnecessary diversion.
  4. He talked about this in his interview with Ratliff and it's the part that I found interesting. he said he wanted to put Bird more in the context of his time to make him more of a "real" person to the readers. Anyway, I am going to read it. Yeah, but the challenge in doing that is to connect all that stuff to Parker's world. And at times it feels like he's just trying to fill up space and doesn't have a clear reason to go into his digressions.
  5. I'm almost 100 pages in. My main criticism so far is that Crouch spends a lot of time on broader American cultural history, which is interesting in its own right but seems to have only the most tenuous connection to Parker. I'm starting to think that this didn't need to be two volumes. But overall it's a good book. The interviews he does with Parker's family and associates are fantastic.
  6. I think it's weird the way people are always giving Blue Train a hard time.
  7. After reading the first chapter last night, I'll be very surprised if it turns out that Crouch has simply used Parker's life as a platform for advancing his own agendas. I haven't seen that so far.
  8. My field is African history, and this is a field that has had to construct knowledge about the continent's past often without the kinds of evidence that historians of Europe or the United States are accustomed to using. Even once you take into account the written documents (usually written by somebody with a preconceived idea about what Africans were like), oral traditions (usually passed down in such a way so as to bolster the reputations of certain rulers), and archeology and linguistics, you still are left with massive gaps. For me, I see these gaps not as an obstacle but as an opportunity, because I think it allows for a different and more honest kind of writing, an empathetic writing whereby you are trying to enter the world of your subject in order to understand their perspective. It is an art. Narrative itself is an art. The Western world for the most part has tried to divide everything into binaries, to say that either you are basing your writing on "facts" OR you are basing it on "imagination" or "embellishment." This presupposes that the "facts" of a person's life don't themselves contain imagination or embellishment, and it presupposes that these kinds of writing are entirely different or opposed to one another. What I'm trying to say here is that the division between "fiction" and "non-fiction" is not as clear as people make it seem. There is much in common between fiction and non-fiction writing because both make use of "facts" and "imagination" and both seek to construct narratives that will engage their audiences. The lie that history as an academic discipline (a discipline I am a part of) tries to tell is that you should write history in such a way that another historian could come after you, retrace your steps, and reach the same conclusions. This is a lie because it pretends that history is a science, which it most certainly is not. It pretends that the historian is just this invisible messenger of a discrete body of "facts" that he has discovered and wishes to share with the world. It ignores the fact that these "facts" are themselves subjective representations of reality that were created by some person somewhere. I don't know if I'm getting my meaning across. But what I want to say is that I know something of Stanley Crouch's worldview, know something of his writing, and know something of the work he has done researching Parker's life. Knowing these things, I now want to read his version of Parker's story. I'm not searching for the "definitive" account of his life because such a thing can never exist.
  9. Well, I read the first chapter last night and thought it was great. I've never been a fan of anything Crouch has done in the past, but when somebody spends this long working on a subject, I pay attention. Also, I hate the comments on here about how people seem to be looking for a "sober" or "objective" perspective on Parker that sticks to "the facts." As a historian who cares about writing, I find all of this offensive. Good writing is good writing, and bad writing is bad writing.
  10. Picked up a copy of it today. Looking forward to reading it. I definitely get what he means about needing a novelist's approach to fill in the gaps. Writing the biography of a man is an art, not a science.
  11. Of course the issue is not that the charge is out of proportion to the material being offered. But hell, they could include nuggets of gold in the box set and be justified in charging a much higher price. The problem is that this is a case of the "go big or go home" model run amok. It's basically a fuck you to anybody who is interested in this stuff but doesn't have the money or appetite for THIS large a set. I'd also question whether the category "blacks in Europe" is the right one, or whether clearer distinctions should be made between African Americans and Africans. But I'm sorely tempted all the same. Maybe I'll just sell a dozen box sets to try to dig up enough money to get this.
  12. I mean, why not break it up into smaller box sets?
  13. Man this looks like it will be a great set. I've got a keen and growing personal and professional interest in this sort of thing, but that price tag is an enormous obstacle. It makes me wish they had edited themselves more, and maybe limit it to 20 discs and 1 huge book instead of two. As it is the only way I could afford it would be to sell off half of my Mosaic box sets.
  14. Honestly, I think it would be the Mingus box released last year. I have others that I love but to me that's the most essential one they've ever done.
  15. So I've decided to part with my copy of the Threadgill Mosaic. Discs #3 through 8 are still sealed and box and booklet are in like new condition. This set is on backorder until 2014 now but I will sell it for $115, including shipping to the US. (For international deliveries, I will ship at cost.) Paypal or Amazon gift card only. PM if interested. Thanks for looking! Edit: ON HOLD
  16. 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.
  17. Yeah, I think that Sonny needs to get better and then keep playing. It's what he was born to do.
  18. To me Keith Jarrett might be the most overrated musician in jazz history. I've never heard anything from him on disc that would justify all the exposure he gets.
  19. Idle Moments is, for me, one of the five best albums ever released on Blue Note. Just impossibly good music.
  20. Made it to Princeton Record Exchange today. From where I live it's a hard place to get to, but conveniently my daughter was going down to stay with my parents for the week and Princeton is exactly halfway between my house and their house, so I met my Dad in the town and after lunch went over to the store. Spent a long time there, but I easily could have spent an entire day, no problem. I brought with me a bunch of CDs and DVDs to exchange, and ended up walking away with a nice copy of the Larry Young Mosaic LP set (I own a couple of the albums but don't have several others), as well as a couple more BYG/Actuels that I had yet to pick up (two of the AEC ones). Easily could have spent a lot more money than I did. Don't know when I'll be able to go back, but it's definitely worth it. It's a crime that there aren't stores like this in every major city in the United States.
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