As a young teacher, I remember being impressed with Stanley Crouch’s comment about education. He wrote something like, “8 times 8 is 64 and I don’t give a damn what happened at your house last night.” Ah, I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.

Crouch’s politics aside or maybe because I now know more about his politics, I was intrigued to learn that he had written a book about one of my favorite jazz men, Charlie Parker. The problem is that he hasn’t written a very good one.

This time, when I encountered Crouch’s prose, it didn’t take me long to figure out that he was trying to write like Parker played. A cute effort, but tiresome within 10 pages or so. And then it became incredibly apparent that Crouch was just skimming the surface of the man’s story. Either there’s not enough research out there, or he just didn’t do it. Crouch’s main goal seems to be describing Parker’s early influences – personal, musical, pharmaceutical. But he spends more time attempting to riff on what little he presents. Though this book comes in it at over 300 pages, it is remarkably thin.

Crouch’s title and his stopping point suggest that he’s got at least one more volume planned, if not to. Those will come and go without me.

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