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Birditis

Ian Penman: The Obsession with Charlie Parker, 23 January 2014

Celebrating Bird: The Triumph of Charlie Parker 
by Gary Giddins.
Minnesota, revised edition, 195 pp., £15, October 2013, 978 0 8166 9041 1
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Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker 
by Stanley Crouch.
Harper, 365 pp., £20, September 2013, 978 0 06 200559 5
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Bird: The Life and Music of Charlie Parker 
by Chuck Haddix.
Illinois, 188 pp., £20, September 2013, 978 0 252 03791 7
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... suit, shirt awry, trousers ridden up to his mottled knees. In Celebrating Bird, Gary Giddins includes three photos I’d never seen before, taken just before Parker’s death. (Frustratingly, Giddins supplies no background context.) In one, Parker turns his back to the camera and covers his eyes, as ...

Her Haunted Heart

John Lahr: Billie Holiday, 20 December 2018

Lady Sings the Blues 
by Billie Holiday.
Penguin, 179 pp., £9.99, November 2018, 978 0 241 35129 1
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... a lil’ moonlight can doo – ooo-ooo.’ ‘Her voice is her story,’ the jazz critic Gary Giddins said of Holiday’s melancholy majesty. Wary and solitary in life (‘I don’t make friends easily’), on stage she was unabashed about opening her haunted heart. ‘Good morning heartache/Here we go again,’ she sang, in her come-hither ...

My Heroin Christmas

Terry Castle: Art Pepper and Me, 18 December 2003

... his introduction to the 1994 paperback reissue of Straight Life, the jazz critic Gary Giddins warns that it is often hard to admire Pepper: ‘he whines, justifies, patronises and vilifies’ and goes ‘overboard . . . with intimate revelations’.) But along with the spleen and pussy lore Pepper offered himself up with such astonishing ...

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