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http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/22/books/review/listening-and-playing.html?emc=edit_tnt_20160520
 
Listening and Playing
By JOHN WILLIAMSMAY 20, 2016

 
Duke Ellington and friends. Columbia Pictures/GAB Archive, via Redferns — Getty Images
In “How to Listen to Jazz,” the music critic and historian (and pianist) Ted Gioia confesses: “I’ve offered both praise and put-downs to many an artist over the years, but I’ve never actually outlined in detail the standards I apply in making these evaluations.” His new book is an effort to correct that, and to teach casual listeners how “careful listening can demystify virtually all of the intricacies and marvels of jazz.” As part of his instruction, Gioia points readers to certain recordings, including inferior ones. “You can perhaps learn more about swing from listening to the bands that fail to achieve it,” he writes.
“Murray Talks Music,” another of several new books about jazz, brings together some of the writer Albert Murray’s interviews and essays about music. In Apprise magazine in 1990, he talked about improvisation as a form of resilience, an ability to change and deal with new circumstances that was indicative of the American character. “If you’ve got it all nailed down, and you know where all the notes go, and you do all that, and all you have to do is have the director come up and tell you, ‘Do that,’ you’re not dealing with American experience, you see.”
Hearing from the most accomplished jazz musicians themselves is a humbling reminder that their skills ultimately exist in a realm beyond words. “Conversations in Jazz” collects interviews conducted by Ralph Gleason, a founding editor of Rolling Stone who died in 1975, with John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Sonny Rollins and others. Dizzy Gillespie told Gleason that only the most difficult songs occupied his thoughts when he wasn’t performing them. “You get them hard things and you have to figure certain things,” he said. “But most numbers, man, you just go up and start playing.”
Quotable
“But now I’m 40 I just thought: I spent my 20s and 30s in a dark room writing — this year I’m going to put on a big outfit and go to a party.” — Zadie Smith, on attending this year’s Met Gala, in an interview with Refinery29
The Vocabulary of Pleasure
This week, Mark O’Connell reviews “Unforbidden Pleasures,” by the psychoanalyst and essayist Adam Phillips. In an interview at the London Review Bookshop in London last November, Phillips spoke about his latest subject. “How much time can you spend doing forbidden things?” he asked. “Not that much.” Even serious transgressors, he surmised, get a majority of their pleasure from innocent activities like, say, drinking coffee. “There’s lots of exciting language about exciting, dangerous pleasures, but there’s very little language about most of the ordinary pleasures,” Phillips said. “We’re being instructed about what to desire by the forbidders, and I think that’s a shame, because it’s so limiting.”

 
 


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