Flute Journal readers will be familiar with flutist/saxophonist Peter Guidi after our report on his sad passing from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in Amsterdam, April 2018. As can be seen from his own website, Guidi made many contributions to the musical life of the Netherlands and left a considerable legacy in the form of writings and recordings for students of jazz flute, and saxophone.
Now a new item has emerged in the form of a set of memories, entitled Peter Guidi: In His Own Write.
This is not an autobiography, although it was intended to become one. It is aseries of articles and stories collected over many years as the raw material for Guidi’s life story, although his passing was too sudden to allow him time to assemble and edit the collection into the polished form he would have wished. However, with careful editorial work by Ken Wilkie, this has turned into a very readable collection.
In The Preface, Ken Wilkie, a long-term friend of Guidi’s, provides the background. He writes:
“For Peter Guidi was not only a respected alto sax player, a master of the flute, and an inspiring teacher of jazz for a generation of young people, he was also a storyteller per eccellenza.
“In this solo performance, Peter brings his personal history to life in a compassionate, humorous, honest and revealing way. It is an arrangement of his experiences and views on life, and it embraces a host of people who inspired him.”
It turns out that Guidi was indeed an excellent storyteller, but also a wonderful observer, and with a life to observe that began in Tuscany and Glasgow, extended to many world travels, interactions with musicians such as jazz greats Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan and Tony Scott,, and ended in Amsterdam as a performing artist, an educator, and a mentor to countless young people which led, eventually, in 2010, to his receiving a knighthood.
He has much to say about music, but also much about day-to-day living, culture, people, and the many lessons to be gained from life. And the format is such that the sequence of his life story is not so critically important, each chapter is a self-contained episode, often a fable, and each one has something we can learn from it, without it ever being preachy or dogmatic. One can dip in to the book virtually at random and enjoy any section, in the manner of a collection of essays, while still picking up a thread of the life described. Kudos to both Guidi and Wilkie for that.
There is no technical information about playing the flute or the saxophone here; Guidi covers that elsewhere, for example in his method book The Jazz Flute, which we hope to review later. But if you enjoy hearing from a great raconteur, particularly one with insights into the jazz life, you will benefit from having this book on your shelf. We will all benefit from remembering this remarkable individual, while proceeds from the sale of the book will continue his work via the Peter Guidi Foundation.
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