Veteran Seattle musician Jay Thomas’ dazzling new autobiography, Life and Jazz Stories, bristles with the color, humor and detail of a picaresque novel while at the same time serving as a mini-history of local jazz from the 1960s to the present. It is a blow-by-blow account of one artist’s musical development and a humble confession of recovery from a heroin addiction. On the page, Thomas comes across much as he does in person—witty, hip, eager, curious, vulnerable, and slightly amused by the craziness of it all. Refreshingly, he often sounds as excited about other players as himself. His stories about where and when he suddenly gained new musical insights are as priceless as they are rare in first-person jazz works. His musical descriptions such as, Tony Williams playing a “flibbertygibbet with a trap door hidden in it”, are the very substance of good jazz writing. Thomas shares a plethora of hilarious insider stories, like the night he cold-called Thelonious Monk to complain that he couldn’t find any good jazz in New York or when he dissed an arrogant Roy Hargrove at a jam session whispering in his ear, “You sound beautiful, man…we used to sound that way in the ‘60s.” Sometimes the narrative is a bit dizzying (Thomas is not one for citing dates; however he does offer 127 extensive endnotes about various people and institutions). Likewise, the book could definitely use a chronology and an index, but in a way that’s all part of its conversational charm.