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Jazz and its Discontents by Francis Davis

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James Joyce and William Faulkner get “readers,” not jazz journalists. But Francis Davis has earned the stature implicit in his new book’s subtitle, A Francis Davis Reader. He is a literate and witty essayist who speaks with erudition, honesty and passion on his primary subject of jazz.

Davis’ best-known quote is from the introduction to his first book, In the Moment: “Musicians presuppose that all critics are frustrated musicians. That’s incorrect: the good ones are frustrated novelists.” Or, perhaps, poets. Davis’ powers of poetic metaphor are manifest throughout this collection. For example, on Sonny Rollins: “He played ‘Where Are You?’ at the sound check…chipping away at the melody until nothing was left but a luminous, abstract, imperishable paraphrase….”

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