Always in Pursuit
Always in Pursuit, by Stanley Crouch.
Stanley Crouch is a master essayistinventive, engaging, prodding, and, best of all, fiercely independent. He writes not just what he thinks, but what he knows; he feels, he says, “right in the middle of our time, our era, our age,” able to recognize “the epic nature of our interconnections and our problems as Americans.” It’s possible to disagree with Crouch, who expresses opinions on everything from Phil Donahue to the 50th anniversary of victory over Japan. But to disagree is, oddly, to miss the point and does not even slightly diminish the sheer rush of reading these fast-paced, assured, informed, and brutally honest pieces. Crouch’s experiment in transferring jazz forms onto the page sometimes eludes; the driving, compelling rhythm of his prose does not. Jazz is everywhere in the collection, and the long essay on Duke Ellington is one of the best in the book. But the most successful yoking of jazz and the essay is “Trouble in the East,” which Crouch describes as “Four choruses of blues changes, and a coda, for Sarajevo.” Here, Crouch brilliantly fuses jazz rhythms, the personal voice of the blues, and the day’s news in a moving and original piece. Crouch is in the moment here, at the top of his game. Pantheon $25
Copyright University of Virginia Autumn 1998
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