Although Crouch, the determinedly iconoclastic and always controversial critic, has cast his net widely over the last few years--declaiming on various social issues that swirl around but are never limited to race--he began as a jazz writer, albeit one who was never shy about combining musical analysis with cultural criticism. This collection brings together a healthy sampling of his jazz writings dating from 1977 to the present. A long and spirited prologue, "Jazz Me Blues," lays out Crouch's jazz aesthetic, but he really shows his stuff in the essays on particular musicians, combining trenchant analysis of the artist with fascinating biographical material and feeling free to speculate at will about the psychology and inner lives of such jazz greats as Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, and John Coltrane. Nearly every essay has a pocketful of rare nuggets like this snippet on Ben Webster: "Webster was a big man known to turn out bars and appear drunk at European airports with wilting bouquets, weeping, as Betty Carter recalled, because he had just missed doing it right once again." Essential reading for jazz fans. Bill OttCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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"Stanley Crouch is an intriguing case. He is often described as a maverick and a conservative, but as this excellent collection of essays on jazz illustrates, there's more to him than that." The Guardian "Crouch writes passionately and often provocatively, to the extent that even when you think he's showing off, you end up feeling he has a good point." Jazz Times"