Jazz Matters: Reflections on the Music & Some of Its Makers

Doug Ramsey, Author, Gene Lees, Foreword by University of Arkansas Press $19.95 (314p) ISBN 978-1-55728-061-9
Writing about bassist Charles Mingus, veteran jazz critic Ramsey observes, ``He had so much love for his music that he would do anything to make it work the way he conceived it.'' Ramsey too is head-over-heels in love with jazz, and this collection of his essays, profiles and reviews, culled from various publications, brilliantly conveys the intensity of the music and the voices of the musicians who make it. With intelligence, warmth and wit, Ramsey writes of the revolutionaries (from Louis Armstrong to Miles Davis), the tragic geniuses who succumbed to drugs (``Even when Charlie Parker required physical support so that he could solo, his playing has an imperial, desolate beauty'') and those who are accused of selling out (``when a superior musician e.g., George Benson achieves success with watered-down material he doesn't necessarily dilute his art, however rarely he may choose or be allowed to work at it''). Occasionally the essays meander, but on the whole, Ramsey has compiled a valuable overview of the sadly underappreciated ``mother lode of American music.'' (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1989
Release date: 04/01/1989
Hardcover - 314 pages - 978-1-55728-060-2
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