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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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... tradition in jazz of oral biography. The ‘as told to’ voice here belongs to Miles Davis, in Miles: The Autobiography, first published in 1989 and officially attributed to ‘Miles Davis with QuincyTroupe’ (see also Lady Sings the Blues by ‘Billie Holiday with William Duffy’). Depending on mood, ethnicity, ideology, drug of choice, an oral biography can strike the reader as an authentic ...

Got to keep moving

Jeremy Harding

24 May 1990
Crosstown Traffic: Jimi Hendrix and Post-War Pop 
by Charles Shaar Murray.
Faber, 247 pp., £7.99, November 1989, 0 571 14936 7
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Autobiography 
by Miles Davis and Quincy Troupe.
Macmillan, 400 pp., £13.95, February 1990, 0 333 53195 7
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... The idea that a falling object was about to defy gravity before it hit the ground is a familiar one in the mythology of the pop idol. It is the gist of Charles Shaar Murray’s book about Jimi Hendrix, who enjoyed a great career as a virtuoso guitar player between 1966 and 1970, when he died in a London hospital after an overdose of sleeping pills. In a sparkling homage, far more readable than most ...

Family Values

Michael Wood

17 October 1996
The Last Don 
by Mario Puzo.
Heinemann, 482 pp., £15.99, October 1996, 0 434 60498 4
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... that either his brains or his signature would be on the contract’. Sinatra mentions the earlier singers, and talks about the offer you can’t refuse in relation to the pleasures of singing with Quincy Jones’s band. We can scarcely miss the slightly sinister joke, though; and for good measure Sinatra did famously become Puzo’s enemy because he thought he had been portrayed in the novel and the ...

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