Recent Passings

RIP Ruth Rendell. In her honor, I re-read the classic A Judgement in Stone. Such a terrific book, with suspense that mounts unbearably in unexpected ways.

There’s a 2003 interview with Rendell which sheds light on several interesting details about Stone. The discussion of humor is a surprise, for there’s nothing in the thriller which doesn’t scan as “creepy” much more than “funny.” (At least it seems that way to this American; perhaps if I were British I’d get the jokes.)

Not too long ago I looked at her first, From Doon with Death, and was reminded of how great she was from the very beginning.

Distinguished colleagues Val McDermid and Peter Robinson offer excellent tributes.

RIP Jerome Cooper. I listened to some Revolutionary Ensemble this afternoon and was struck by just how fabulous his drums sounded. The other big thing is how swinging Cooper is when confidently delivering the free jazz burn.

The Revolutionary Ensemble was truly composition-oriented. On “Chinese Rock” Cooper plays the melody, then improvises on the theme in precise fashion, then evolves into a fucked-up backbeat. There’s no doubt that the legacy of Leroy Jenkins is up for serious re-evaluation. Fascinating music.

RIP Bernard Stollman. Of course, ESP was the label for the New Black Music in the 60’s. I’ve seen several valuable obits; Richard Williams’s tribute  gives an especially good sense of that label’s perennial charisma.