a good critic…

…is worth a lot.

A great critic can change your life.

Fred Kaplan, writing his blog for ‘Stereophile,’ dropped a note about the Ryan Keberle Double Quartet’s new album “Heavy Dreaming.”

Although I like Fred’s writing, the specifics, in this case, are less important than the bare fact that he brought the album to his readers’ attentions. I never would have heard of it, had I not been reading a critic.

(The post in question is here.)

With the music business changing so much, and with a lot (most? all of?) of new jazz being issued on tiny labels, we more than ever need reliable guides.

Roger Ebert belongs on anyone’s short list of great critics, though I’m sure he’s not highbrow enough for some, nor sufficiently wedded to a particular theory for others.

He remains, even as he faces his own mortality, a remarkably clear writer and thinker. I own a lot of his books, and the two volumes of ‘The Great Movies’ have deepened and broadened and upended and turned around my understanding of and appreciation for movies.

The biggest thing: Ebert, like any great newspaperman, has a superb sense of smell, and he knows enough to rely on it. Even though he’s helped define the canon of masterpieces, he first has to like what he’s watching. Whenever I think of the snarky saying, ‘those who can’t do, teach,’ I think of Ebert and suspect it could just be the other way around.


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