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5.0 von 5 Sternen Gelungene Symbiose aus Fakt u. Fiktion
Geoff Dyers Buch ist eines der faszinierendsten und originellsten Bücher über Jazzmusiker und das Genre im allgemeinen. Das Buch beinhaltet Unwahrheiten oder Verdrehungen der biographischen Fakten. Dies - wird aber auch vom Autor im Vorwort ausdrücklich angesprochen. Er will die Musiker nicht so schildern wie sie waren, sondern wie er sie wahrgenommen hat;...
Veröffentlicht am 4. April 2002 von Ulli E.

versus
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2.0 von 5 Sternen Just sheer jazz feedback to keep the fire going
If you ever cried to a jazz tune, you will cry all over these pages. Not for anything else but for beauty in the art itself. Sobering, BUT BEAUTIFUL.
Am 19. Februar 2000 veröffentlicht


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5.0 von 5 Sternen Gelungene Symbiose aus Fakt u. Fiktion, 4. April 2002
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Geoff Dyers Buch ist eines der faszinierendsten und originellsten Bücher über Jazzmusiker und das Genre im allgemeinen. Das Buch beinhaltet Unwahrheiten oder Verdrehungen der biographischen Fakten. Dies - wird aber auch vom Autor im Vorwort ausdrücklich angesprochen. Er will die Musiker nicht so schildern wie sie waren, sondern wie er sie wahrgenommen hat; das ist "interpretierte" Rezeption und viel spannender als lexikalische Prosa.
Dyer nähert sich einer ausgesuchten Gruppe von Musikern, die vornehmlich in den 50er und 60er Jahren aktiv waren: Lester Young, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Charlie Mingus, Chet Baker, Art Pepper und als "Refrain" und Rahmenhandlung Duke Ellington. Die einzelnen Episoden beschreiben meist eine oder mehrere Stationen aus dem Leben der Musiker. Dabei paßt Dyer den literarischen Stil dem jeweiligen Sujet auf sehr sensible Art und weise an. Gerade die Episoden, in denen Drogen und/oder psychische Probleme eine Rolle spielen (Young, Powell, Pepper), sind besonders beeindrucken und ergreifend. So nah kommt kein "Biograph" an den Meschen heran.
Der zweite Teil des Buches ist ein Essay, der knapp aber höchst scharfsinnig und kenntnisreich die Entwicklung des Jazz seit Charlie Parker bis heute skizziert. Auch hier geht es eher um große Zusammenhänge und (fast philosophische) Gedanken zu dem Genre Jazz an sich.
Fazit: Gelungene Symbiose aus Fakt und Fiktion.
Wer Interesse an fiktionalisierter Jazzgeschichte hat, ist auch gute aufgehoben bei Walter M. Ellis' "Prince of Darkness", ein Roman, der auf Motiven aus dem Leben von Miles Davis beruht - zwar konventioneller als Dyer, aber sehr unterhaltsam.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Truly beautiful, 9. April 1998
I'm a writer. Go ahead, search Amazon, you'll find me. So to the extent that I've got a novel published, I'm a writer. I also happen to be a jazz fan. I've got autographs from Dexter Gordon and McCoy Tyner and others framed and on my wall to prove it. All that having been said, I wish I had written But Beautiful. However, I'm not that good a writer. If you know jazz, you'll love this book. If you don't know jazz, it's a great way to get to know it. Go out and get, say, Clifford Brown and Max Roach or John Coltrand and Johnny Hartman or Gerry Mulligan meets Ben Webster and listen to them and read this terrific book. Geoff Dyer knows how to use words to convey meaning, emotion, and sound. This is a beautiful little book. I hope he writes another.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen A Must for Those Who Appreciate Jazz and/or Exquisite Prose, 6. Mai 2000
Von 
M. Allen Greenbaum (California) - Alle meine Rezensionen ansehen
(REAL NAME)   
Picture this: "Onstage at Birdland, eyes shut, one arm hanging at his side....trumpet raised to his lips like a brandy bottle--not playing the horn but swigging from it, sipping it."
Geoff Dyer's employs his exquisite imagery as a starting point for his "imaginative criticism" of the celebrated and tragic lives of several iconic jazz musicians (including figures such as Chet Baker, Lester Young, Thelonious Monk, Ben Webster, Charles Mingus, and Bud Powell). While photographs are the inspiration, Dyer's writing is so precise and sensual that he need only describe the photographs (the book has only one small photo). And this is just right for a book about music, his writing is so lyrical that we almost hear the sounds while reading. (In fact. the least effective aspect of the book is the Duke Ellington "road trip" that introduces each chapter, perhaps because the narrative is not connected to any particular Ellington sound.)
Many of the scenes and dialogue (especially the inner dialogue) are necessarily fictions, "assume that what's here has been invented or altered rather than quoted." But Dyer's explains that while his version may veer from the truth, "it keeps faith with the improvisational prerogatives of the form." He mixes truth and fiction into portraits that illuminate what strictly factual history cannot always convey. (Think of Robert Graves' in his WWI memoir/fiction "Goodbye to All That."). Dyer explains that while a photo depicts only a "split second," its "felt duration" may include the unseen moments before and after that split second. "But Beautiful" invites us to improvise (as Dyer does) into that unseen time, and discover our own subjective relationship to the music.
Listen to this: "Chet put nothing of himself into his music and that's what lent his playing its pathos...Every time he played a note he waved it goodbye. Sometimes he didn't even wave."
The evocative word pictures are unusually perceptive and sensitive. Although personal and often imagined, it's really like an improvised solo that either feels "right" or not. I think "But Beautiful" hits the right notes and rhythms: his words evoke the music, and, after reading it, the music will evoke the words. Not without its flaws, it is still an astonishing feat.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen A great book even if you don't love jazz, 26. November 1999
I read But Beautiful the day that I bought it. I loved it so much that I recommended it to a friend of mine who's a jazz critic and flautist. The next time I met him I asked him what he thought, and he told me that he didn't like it - that it was, quote, patronising. I have no idea what he meant by this. The only musician in the book whose work I knew at all is Bud Powell, and the book is worth reading for that section alone; Dyer's insights on what it's like to listen to the music are almost more remarkable than his reconstructions of the musicians' lives. The section on Art Pepper has a grisly intensity, as Dyer wonders how such a small and severely damaged personality could make such great music. It could almost turn a loud-guitars man like me into a jazz fan.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen More than Beautiful: Literary Bebop, 3. Mai 2000
Von 
Geoff Dyer's But Beautiful: A Book about Jazz is much more than an extended critical essay on a still-evolving, vital musical genre and a great deal more than fictional portrayals of Jazz legends. Here, Dyer focuses his considerable talents on creating a kind of Jazz-in-print, seeking to emulate the frenzied riffing, explosive spontaneity and creative interplay, which has given Jazz music so much more vitality than many other genres' created in the 20th century. Without question, one would have to agree that he has succeeded, totally to the readers' enrichment.
But Beautiful hits the reader on several levels; we are taken on a series of journeys into the lives, thoughts, conversations and seminal events of eight Jazz musicians. Between each chapter is inserted a fictional, road-tripping almost ghostly presence of Duke Ellington, a father figure of modern Jazz who may well have known, recorded and very likely influenced all eight men whom Dyer chose to write/riff about. What's real about the eight musicians are the bare-bones facts known to many Jazz fans; Lester Young court-martialed by the Army because of an inability to cope with a racist Drill Sergeant, Chet Baker's teeth knocked out by an angry drug dealer in a seedy, San Francisco diner, Art Pepper sentenced to five years in prison on a Heroin possession conviction and so on. What's possible, and perhaps no less real to the reader are the details of their lives, their anguish and the self-destructive passions which attend the day to day living of so many creative people. Dyer draws these details in part through listening to the music and inspiration gained by looking at photographs of some of the musicians. 'Not as they were but as they appear to me....' Dyer asks the reader to see the musicians as he sees them, to believe in the memory of what these photos inspired. The men and their lives are portrayed, much like Jazz itself, with a kind of heart-stopping intensity and a poignant, empathetic acknowledgement of lives spent creating and being swallowed whole by the gift that makes creation possible. On Thelonious Monk; "Whatever it was inside him was very delicate, he had to keep it very still, slow himself right down so that nothing affected it." On Ben Webster; "He carried his loneliness around with him like an instrument case. It never left his side."
Very little, insightful criticism or critical essays have been produced regarding Jazz and the people who play it and live it. Dyer has done more than write mere history or criticism in But Beautiful, he has written (and played) a genre-exploding, lyrical meditation on Jazz and on the terrifying, exhilarating possibilities of the music itself and what ought to be recognized as a new form of fictional riffing.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen A Window to the soul of Jazz, 18. Januar 2000
This book captures the essence of jazz. Every nuance from languid to livid, sad to sublime is etched out by Dyer's poetic and harmonious flow of prose. If you are familiar with these artists, his stories encourage you to say, put on your favorite album by Monk while you read about him -- or after you read about him, so you can reflect on how the writer has connected with the soul of the music. If you aren't familiar with the artists, this work will definitely urge you to acquire some of their music. This book is simply an extended poem, traced so delicately that it allows the experienced and the novice alike, the opportunity to peer through a window and into the soul of Jazz.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Just Beautiful, 22. März 1997
Von Ein Kunde
In But Beautiful the reader is exposed to the greats of jazz through several well written vignetts. The writing just beautiful. With a delicate and often intimate style, Geoff Dyer tells the tales of jazz legends in a perspective unique to each artist. Mean while the author weaves the story of Duke Elinton driving across the country side. This element is used ingeneously to bind the radically different vingetts that make up the solos of this books song. But Beautiful is just that, a song not just about jazz, but of it
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5.0 von 5 Sternen it made a jazz lover out of me, 31. Dezember 1998
Von Ein Kunde
It succeeds as a literary piece regardless of your feeling about jazz as a musical form. The book stands out in my mind as a total sensory experience; I still carry images evoked in my mind through the magnificent descriptions; I can smell the liquor and cigarettes and hear the rasping coughs behind the riffs of music. I had never listened to jazz very often before I read this book. Now the jazz station is a pre-programmed button on my stereo. Experience this book.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Dyer sets an enormous challenge and exceeds expectations., 1. April 1998
Von Ein Kunde
Dyer has the rare ability to make the reader feel like he is participating in these lives while simulataneously observing them. The idea behind this book (short, fictional accounts of the lives of several different jazz musicians) is fraught with peril: it could have very easily been done poorly. It is to Dyer's credit that the book succeeds as well as it does. The author's essay at the end of the book on jazz, modern and past, is also well worth reading.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Perfect--and not just for jazz fans, 3. September 1999
Von Ein Kunde
Dyer's book is the best writing on musicians I've encountered, ranking alongside Greil Marcus's MYSTERY TRAIN and Nick Kent's THE DARK STUFF.
Dyer's accomplishement may even be greater, because his sketches also function as very good fiction. A terrific writer.
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