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DownBeat - The Great Jazz Interviews (A 75th Anniversary Anthology)
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
TOP 100 REVIEWERon December 24, 2009
Large format,soft cover,with the articles/interviews arranged in chronological order,starting in the 1930's through the 2000's. The soft cover is substantial and would hold up to some wear. There is no index,so the 350 or so pages of interviews/overviews is pretty much true. This is another fine collection of interviews/articles published in conjunction with DOWNBEAT MAGAZINE,the "bible" of jazz. The focus is on jazz artists in the DOWNBEAT Hall of Fame. Frank Alkyer-publisher,and Ed Enright-editor of DOWNBEAT have chosen wisely for this 75th anniversary publication. While some long-time readers of the magazine,or jazz listeners may quibble over the omission of a favorite artist/artists,the many featured musicians in this book give a fine overview of both jazz from it's (arguable beginning),and as a history of DOWNBEAT MAGAZINE.

Following the publication,in conjunction with DOWNBEAT MAGAZINE,of the fine "The Miles Davis Reader",a number of years ago,this collection takes in most of the greatest names in jazz,past and present. While many more musicians could have been included,the artists here form a solid foundation of jazz. From jazz's beginnings,featured artists such as W.C. Handy,Louis Armstrong,Jelly Roll Morton,Duke Ellington (1930's),through Woody Herman,Glenn Miller, Billie Holiday, T-Bone Walker,Stan Kenton,Lester Young,Dizzy Gillespie,Charlie Parker (1940's),into the 1950's with Les Paul,Chet Baker,Lennie Tristano,Oscar Peterson,John Coltrane,Roy Eldridge,to Joe Williams,Ornette Coleman,Paul Desmond,Bill Evans,Art Tatum,Ella Fitzgerald,Thelonious Monk,Miles Davis,Muddy Waters (1960's),to "Cannonball" Adderley,Roland Kirk,Charles Mingus,Tom Waits,Frank Zappa,WEATHER REPORT,Stevie Wonder (1970's),to Freddie Hubbard,Brian Eno,Tony Williams,Keith Jarrett,Carla Bley,Henry Threadgill,Carlos Santana (1980,s),to Joe Henderson,Stephane Grapelli,Joshua Redman,Van Morrison,Joni Mitchell,Betty Carter,Steve Lacy (1990's),through Tony Bennett,Hank Jones,Dave Brubeck,James Brown (2000's),and many,many more,together present the history of jazz.

The many black and white (and few color) photographs,many not seen for years,adds depth and emphasis to the thoughts of these artists. Sprinkled throughout are (small) color reproductions of DOWNBEAT covers from various years. The opinions on jazz in the articles and a few "Blindfold Tests",(different from the interviews),by musicians from the period,are interesting and attest to the aches and pains jazz went through (and is still going through),with a number of dissenting opinions and criticisms (read both 60's articles by "Cannonball" Adderley and Charles Mingus concerning Ornette Coleman as an example) on the course and future of jazz.

This is a book that could sit on anyone's jazz shelf. For someone new to jazz,there's much information which would lead to some great jazz listening. For the long-time jazz listener/reader,this book is a compendium of jazz history,in chronological order,which reinforces why we listen to jazz in the first place. DOWNBEAT MAGAZINE has done a fine job delving into it's vast archives,something they alone are uniquely qualified to do. In bringing together the history of a true American musical genre,through the thoughts of the very musicians who created (and are still creating) so much fine music,into one collection,is certainly a worthwhile endeavor. DOWNBEAT has done it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2014
Absolutely brilliant book. Soft bound. 310 glossy, shiny pages and photos. As big as any magazine: Vogue, Vanity Fair, Playboy, Sports Illustrated. Small font. Not divided into "chapters", but divided into decades from 1930 to present day. This is more of a reference book, source material. The "interviews" aren't really Q&A, some of it are like newspaper reports, articles, personal journals from the artist's themselves, historical background. From a few short paragraphs, a few columns to several pages in length. My one and only criticism is there isn't a volume Two or Three!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2013
A really nice book; Some great photo's of some of my favorites, and there are very interesting interviews; one gets a better idea of how some of the greats, thought/think. This book is certainly worth the money, and I highly recommend it. I just wish I could have gotten this book in hard cover, but then the price might have been out of my reach?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 25, 2014
As a former regular reader of Downbeat, it was great to dig back into some of the best jazz interviews ever written. I have tried to ration the number of interviews that I read at one sitting, but find it quite difficult to do as the writing is so fantastic and really looks at the personalities of the interviewees, rather than just their playing traits. Nat Hentoff should get a Pulitizer Prize for his outstanding work for Downbeat over the years. I have several individuals who may receive this book from me for Christmas. However, I do not plan on letting my copy wander very far from my eager eyes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 29, 2013
GREAT TO HEAR FROM THE REAL PERSON ON THEIR THOUGHTS ABOUT jAZZ. great!!! i USE THIS WHEN LEARNING ABOUT jAZZ SONGS .
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on May 12, 2015
This is a compendium of articles from years of DownBeat magazines. Different authors and different levels of erudition from so the result is some great articles, some very good, a few not so much. In all, though, it is a worthwhile glimpse of jazz artists from the past. It is worth reading for those who want to get a sense of the personalities of a variety of people, but don't want the in depth perspective that more fleshed out profiles would have provided. It could be labeled superficial by those expecting too much. Again it is a series of magazine articles.
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on May 18, 2014
Wonderful collection of articles many written by the great jazz legends themselves! Own some real history. I have the book version but the kindle is easier to read!
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on January 8, 2014
Great Interviews - well worth reading for Jazz and all music fans of all ages. Recommend highly - glad I go it
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
I agree with all comments by reviewers. An essential publication for all, even those with less than passionate interest in the art form.

One matter denying 5 stars - would have loved an index at the end.
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very much needed and how it feels so good to have the stories quotes and pictures and anything that goes through the voices and depth and downbeat always gets it right, for any fan of Jazz music and its history should check this book out. it makes a great gift and alot of depth and a strong purpose.
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