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But Beautiful: A Book About Jazz by Geoff…
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But Beautiful: A Book About Jazz (1991)

by Geoff Dyer

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4341036,504 (4.2)13
  1. 00
    Coming Through Slaughter by Michael Ondaatje (Polaris-)
    Polaris-: Both sensitively explore the imagined possibilities behind what facts are known. Their authors both manage to convey an essence of jazz - the agony and the ecstasy.
  2. 00
    The Horn by John Clellon Holmes (Polaris-)
  3. 00
    As Though I Had Wings: The Lost Memoir by Chet Baker (Polaris-)
  4. 00
    Straight Life: The Story of Art Pepper by Art Pepper (Polaris-)
    Polaris-: Arguably the greatest musical autobiography around, if Dyer's chapter on Pepper piqued your interest - you must read this excellent book.
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This collection of fictionalized sketches of major jazz figures is straight out of the Greil Marcus school of overheated critical appreciation. Heavy on mythmaking in the junkie-hyphen-genius mode of romantic appreciation. The kind of writing I would have loved twenty years ago, but now find overbearing, if evocative and insightful at times. ( )
  MikeLindgren51 | Aug 7, 2018 |
This book is one long fictionalized riff on a selection of jazz giants: Thelonius Monk, Ben Webster, Charles Mingus, Chet Baker, Art Pepper, Lester Young and Bud Powell. Each musician/composer has his own chapter, with the chapters separated by imagined portions of the legendary road trips of Duke Ellington and Harry Carney. Very lyrical and musical prose, great subjects. Dyer says he used photographs, new reports and interviews to conjure his somewhat stream-0f-consciousness takes on the melancholy and sometimes tragic lives of these great artists. My hat's off to him, however he did it. Loved this book and felt I learned things I needed to know. ( )
  jimnicol | Feb 21, 2017 |
Reading this book is like listening to music playing the players. It's seeing a world full of colour, sharp and hazy, constrained and limitless at the same time. It's languid and drawling and bruising and brimming of pain, but beautiful. Quite beautifully. ( )
  catnips13 | Jun 29, 2016 |
Well-written, and most likely, an important book on jazz. Just not my cup of tea. I prefer my Geoff Dyer books to have at the forefront his personality. I also desire his wanton perversions and idiosyncrasies to be involved with the text, even as painful and disgusting as they sometimes are. This book was more a clean, academic study of an art form that I would much rather listen to than read about. ( )
  MSarki | Jan 24, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0865475083, Paperback)

Besides colorful and expressive music, jazz greats such as Lester Young, Thelonius Monk and Duke Ellington led equally colorful, albeit self-destructive, lives. Through this collection of essays, Geoff Dyer recounts some of the more vivid episodes and events these personalities engaged in and illuminates unique aspects of their character that contributed to their music. He also sheds light on the oppression of working within an atmosphere of race-alienation, a hardship that led many to abuse alcohol and drugs, and find solace only in their incredible music.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:10 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

In this text Geoff Dyer captures the beating heart of jazz. In a series of fictional portraits he examines its pathos and lyricism, urgency and self-destruction. Originally published: London: Jonathan Cape, 1991.

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