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Which jazz book are you reading right now?


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On 8/3/2018 at 4:00 AM, BillF said:

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Recently finished. Wonderful on humorous anecdotes.

I purchased a copy last spring after doing a phone interview with Terry Gibbs. He may be retired but he was still full of energy and with lots of great stories and lots of laughs. I highly recommend it!

I just finished Fred Hersch's autobiography. Even after viewing Coma Dreams, his description of his induced coma and rehabilitation therapy afterward is gut-wrenching. 

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Recently finished reading this. She led a pretty amazing life - not all of it good. Although born into extreme wealth it was a very dysfunctional family, which is what most of the first half of the book covers. After that it gets into her life in NYC and associations with Monk and other jazz icons of the day.

The Baroness: The Search for Nica, the Rebellious Rothschild by [Rothschild, Hannah]

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2 hours ago, BFrank said:

Recently finished reading this. She led a pretty amazing life - not all of it good. Although born into extreme wealth it was a very dysfunctional family, which is what most of the first half of the book covers. After that it gets into her life in NYC and associations with Monk and other jazz icons of the day.

The Baroness: The Search for Nica, the Rebellious Rothschild by [Rothschild, Hannah]

The BBC did a documentary by Hannah Rothschild covering this story. I think it is on Youtube.

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I'm finishing up The Worlds of Jazz, Andre Hodeir's third and final book about the music. His first two were severe and uncompromising, but involved conventional criticism. This one is one of the strangest books ever written about jazz. I've read parts of it over the years, but finally decided to read it cover to cover. Hodeir puts forth solid ideas, and sometimes presents all sides of an issue (e.g.: What is a jazz composer?). But instead of straightforward critical writing, he presents his concepts in the form of fables, science fiction, lectures by fictitious professors, sermons, a play, etc. My favorite chapter is "Outside the Capsule," which I have read several times over the years. At some point far in the future, archeologists find a copy of Miles Davis' Bags' Groove LP, and painstakingly analyze the portion of the record that is still playable - Monk's solo on the title tune. Only our future researchers decide that the main musical/ritual thread in the music is the walking bass line, which they incorrectly analyze and interpret at great length. It's a nice, weird little parable about jazz criticism.

 

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11 hours ago, Captain Howdy said:

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Any comments, opinions? What are your impressions of the book? ;)

The subject is an interesting and rewarding one, though it's been covered before and from many angles (paging Allen Lowe ... ;) , not to mention the writings by Nick Tosches, Jim Dawson & Steve Propes, Ed Ward a.o.). So i wonder if this one offers something SUBSTANTIALLY new or an original approach to the subject matter compared to other publications. The info on Amazon (including the reviews) unfortunately is mostly sales blurb and reads as if those commenters who are awestruck by the contents are part of those who are totally clueless about the subject.

Edited by Big Beat Steve
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17 hours ago, jeffcrom said:

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I'm finishing up The Worlds of Jazz, Andre Hodeir's third and final book about the music. His first two were severe and uncompromising, but involved conventional criticism. This one is one of the strangest books ever written about jazz. I've read parts of it over the years, but finally decided to read it cover to cover. Hodeir puts forth solid ideas, and sometimes presents all sides of an issue (e.g.: What is a jazz composer?). But instead of straightforward critical writing, he presents his concepts in the form of fables, science fiction, lectures by fictitious professors, sermons, a play, etc. My favorite chapter is "Outside the Capsule," which I have read several times over the years. At some point far in the future, archeologists find a copy of Miles Davis' Bags' Groove LP, and painstakingly analyze the portion of the record that is still playable - Monk's solo on the title tune. Only our future researchers decide that the main musical/ritual thread in the music is the walking bass line, which they incorrectly analyze and interpret at great length. It's a nice, weird little parable about jazz criticism.

 

I've pretty much given up reading books on music and music criticism, but this one sounds as if it might be both interesting and fun.

Edited by paul secor
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3 hours ago, paul secor said:

I've pretty much given up reading books an music and music criticism, but this one sounds as if it might be both interesting and fun.

From what I've read of him and about him elsewhere Hodeir had a tendency of being overly, really overly "scholarly", stifling the music (yes, and its "essence" - pun intended ;)) in the process. So this one sounds like he loosened up a little at last. Might indeed be interesting.

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9 hours ago, paul secor said:

I've pretty much given up reading books on music and music criticism, but this one sounds as if it might be both interesting and fun.

Well, it's certainly interesting. Fun only in spots for me. It's still Hodeir, and the writing is pretty dense. His sense of humor comes through at times, but even though it's "fictionalized" jazz criticism, I still found it pretty hard reading much of the time.

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I've often wondered how much of the "sternness" is from the translation. I mean, I read Evolution & Essence pretty early on and found it joylessly accurate, which is one of those things that kind of leaves you feeling warned about going back there again. I've kept it, and my cheap paperback has fallen apart, but not from use, jsut from it being a cheap paperback in general.

But does he read like that in French? And has anybody ever hear him just conversing? If he was just a jovial, bubbly kind of effervescent kind of dude, then that's a whole other ballgame. But was he? I mean, I can see that going either way.

And who, by god, were his translates for his English releases?

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8 hours ago, JSngry said:

I've often wondered how much of the "sternness" is from the translation. I mean, I read Evolution & Essence pretty early on and found it joylessly accurate, which is one of those things that kind of leaves you feeling warned about going back there again. I've kept it, and my cheap paperback has fallen apart, but not from use, jsut from it being a cheap paperback in general.

But does he read like that in French? And has anybody ever hear him just conversing? If he was just a jovial, bubbly kind of effervescent kind of dude, then that's a whole other ballgame. But was he? I mean, I can see that going either way.

And who, by god, were his translates for his English releases?

I've read his "Jazz: Its Evolution and Essence" quite a long time ago and while I find it quite interesting his approach, like you say, just  appears very stiff and "stern". Like in some of his recording projects from that period, his classical background becomes overbearing at times - at least to me (maybe because I am not a musician?).
The translation of my copy is by one David Noakes (I've no idea if it was re-translated for other printings - I doubt it). I have yet to see and read the French original "Hommes et problèmes du jazz" (isn't there a hint at his approach in the title - "problems" of jazz???) but I've read quite a few of his contemporary features in Jazz Hot from the 50s and early 60s - and yes, they often are very, very dry and academic.

 

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On 8/6/2018 at 2:23 AM, Big Beat Steve said:

Any comments, opinions? What are your impressions of the book? ;)

The subject is an interesting and rewarding one, though it's been covered before and from many angles (paging Allen Lowe ... ;) , not to mention the writings by Nick Tosches, Jim Dawson & Steve Propes, Ed Ward a.o.). So i wonder if this one offers something SUBSTANTIALLY new or an original approach to the subject matter compared to other publications. The info on Amazon (including the reviews) unfortunately is mostly sales blurb and reads as if those commenters who are awestruck by the contents are part of those who are totally clueless about the subject.

that book is really garbage - full of the usual cliches, badly written, too packed with "facts" that ultimately add up to nothing. Worthless in my opinion. I hate to be so blunt but it has been praised by a lot of jazz people who don't know the subject. I actually read it initially for a U press and told them to send it back.

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