In eight poetically charged vignettes, Geoff Dyer skillfully evokes the music and the men who shaped modern jazz. Drawing on photos, anecdotes, and, most important, the way he hears the music, Dyer imaginatively reconstructs scenes from the embattled lives of some of the greats: Lester Young fading away in a hotel room; Charles Mingus storming down the streets of New York on a too-small bicycle; Thelonius Monk creating his own private language on the piano. However, music is the driving force of But Beautiful, and Dyer brings it to life in luminescent and wildly metaphoric prose that mirrors the quirks, eccentricity, and brilliance of each musician’s style.
“A gorgeous and lyrical collection of nocturnal jazz reveries.” -- The New Yorker
""But Beautiful is the only book about jazz that I have recommended to my friends. It is a ge, with the distinction of being 'about' jazz rather than 'on' jazz. If closeness to the material determines a great solo, Mr. Dyer's book is one.""--Keith Jarrett
""Dyer turns jazz into poetry and his subjects into a beautiful sad music....Few will be unmoved by his passion and eloquence.""--Tom Graves, The Washington Post Book World