The beauty of jazz


Title: Reading Jazz: A Gathering of Autobiography, Reportage and Criticism from 1919 to Now

By: Robert Gottlieb (editor)

You don’t have to be a jazz aficionado to enjoy this book, only a lover of good writing. Like boxing writing, jazz writing is one of the rich subcultures of American nonfiction, and the best of it is collected here by Gottlieb, the legendary New Yorker editor. All the great names of jazz are here, writing, talking, remembering, arguing. Whether it is Jelly Roll Morton talking about being around at the birth of jazz and recalling the “outstanding hot” pianists of his time, Nat Hentoff writing about “the ferociously wheeling, diving, climbing” art of John Coltrane, Jean-Paul Sartre asserting that “Jazz is like bananas – it must be consumed on the spot”, or Dizzy Gillespie saying “You only have so many notes, and what makes a style is how you get from one note to the other”, this book skips from one good thing to another. Vast, and vastly pleasurable.