“Imperfect Solo” by Steven Boykey Sidley Worthy of a Standing Ovation

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Meyer (we only learn his first name deeper into the book) is filled with dread…and jazz. A modern, midlife anti-hero who has a complicated, messed-up family situation, Meyer (a divorced alto sax musician) grapples with the meaning of life while ruminating over his many mistakes. Time and again, though, his most cherished friendships save him: with an Iranian psychiatrist (the poison-tipped insults they swap are outrageously guffaw-worthy, to say the least); with an unflappable brother-in-jazz and trust-fund baby who’s all grown up (sort of); and of course with his alto. Trying to unwrap the enigma of women and understand why he gets burned so often on gigs, Meyer is a bit of a sad sack. But although he often falls flat on his face, he ultimately and in unexpected ways (semi-spoiler alert) gets it right.

There is perhaps one of the absolute best descriptions in contemporary literature of losing oneself while playing music; Sidley crafts several superbly rendered passages about jazz improvisation that authenticates him as an author who has lived with, in and for music. This book is a treat for many reasons, but for the music lover, it truly resonates. On Amazon here.


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