CLOSE ENOUGH FOR JAZZ by Michael Zwerin

CLOSE ENOUGH FOR JAZZ

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Zwerin, author of an often-evocative report on a Harlem drug-rehab center (The Silent Sound of Needles, 1969), has led a messily intriguing, ""bisocial"" life--as sometime jazz-musician, sometime steel-company president (the family business), sometime journalist, and part-time bohemian (drugs, marriages, etc.). He also has a gift for sardonic, allusive commentary. Unfortunately, however, this memoir doesn't do justice either to Zwerin's experience or his writing talent--since it's a chaotic, self-indulgent mishmash, heavy on 1960s-style ramblings and sophomoric soul-barings. (""I'm a frustrated sneeze, a pimple that won't pop, an orgasm that can't come. I would like to come all day long but my father, who has been dead for years, would not approve."") The presentation here is vaguely, roughly chronological: N.Y.-Jewish background, with a conflict between college and underground-jazz yearnings (playing with Miles Davis circa 1949); periods of businessman-conformity through the 1960s, alternating with touring gigs (Maynard Ferguson, Earl Hines); a frustrating dip into ""Third Stream"" with John Lewis (whose prickly personality triggers a petulant Zwerin monologue); later years as jazz critic and Paris-based journalist. But, while there are juicy bits here and there about the many jazz-greats whom Zwerin has met, his own soul-journey lurches along in disjointed, free-associative, in-groupy chunks--making it hard to follow and impossible (for all but a few readers, one would guess) to get involved.

Pub Date: Jan. 9th, 1984
Publisher: Quartet--dist. by Merrimack (47 Pelham Rd., Salem, NH 03079)