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Kym Brown

A Certain Respect for Tradition : Mark Miller on Jazz : Selected Writings 1980-2005

By Mark Miller
Published by Mercury Press
(available at www.nwpassages.com)

Reviewed by Jim Dupuis



Miller's book is filled with intriguing stories
Mark Miller wrote about jazz for the Globe & Mail for 27 years. He published some 4,000 articles, which included concert reviews, interviews and short essays about jazz. In his newest book, “A Certain Respect for Tradition,” he has chosen around 80 of these pieces and a few from other sources. The artists he chose to include in this book are quite a diverse group. Some choices are obvious, like Tony Bennett, Wynton Marsalis and Sarah Vaughan. He also included articles about less well-known jazzers, such as the Dutch musician Willem Breuker, German saxophonist Peter Brotzmann and Canadians such as Charles Papasoff. This book is filled with intriguing stories such as, when an obviously stoned Chet Baker was booed off the stage at the Montreal Jazz Festival. It is a particularly poignant and ironic piece of writing. In other pieces Miller reveals little tidbits of info about his subjects. What ultimately comes through is that jazz musicians, famous or otherwise are people, too. Did you know that Pat Metheny is a “political guy” or that Cassandra Wilson acknowledges the influence of Joni Mitchell? Probably not, and it’s this sort of detail that makes “A Certain Respect” an interesting read. Like ...when an obviously stoned Chet Baker was booed off the stage at the Montreal Jazz Festival “The Miller Companion to Jazz”, the book is a good tool for jazz scholars, and media types, but the small details which he reveals lets us know that these musicians are as human as we are. He is generally empathetic and respectful, but at times he can have an acerbic edge. As to Diana Krall, who is not included, but mentioned five times, he says, “Celebrity is a relative concept in jazz. After Diana Krall, who? And even Ms. Krall is well down the list of the noted and the notorious in the wider world of the arts and entertainment. Well down.” In a recent conversation with Miller about the book, he pointed out that he had taken the photographs that are included. There is a regal black and white photograph of the late Stephane Grappelli that is truly “Karsh-like”. The photo, taken by Miller in a Toronto hotel captures the old violinist exuding an air of elegance and dignity. Kind of reminds me of Mark Miller’s writing.

Read the !earshot review of Mark Miller’s book: Some Hustling This! Taking Jazz to the World, 1914-1929 (2005) -

Other books by Marl Miller:
Jazz in Canada - 14 Lives (1982)
Miller Companion to Jazz in Canada (and Canadians in Jazz) (2001)

Such Melodious Racket: The Lost History of Jazz in Canada (1997)

Available at www.mercurypress.ca (http://www.themercurypress.ca/authors/miller.html) or www.nwpassages.com (http://www.nwpassages.com/profile_book.asp?ISBN=1551281252)
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