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The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings: Ninth Edition Paperback – December 2, 2008


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Paperback, December 2, 2008
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings
  • Paperback: 1600 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; 9th edition (December 2, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141034017
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141034010
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.8 x 2.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #957,723 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The updated, eighth edition of this long-running title features more than 14,000 reviews of CDs and 400 new artist entries. Entries include very brief descriptions of the artists and a list of their recordings, with reviews and ratings by the authors. The lengths of the CD entries vary from very short (label, catalog number, issue date, and performers) to extensive, multiparagraph descriptions of the album's history, reception, and individual songs. The authors are clearly devout jazz historians, and the character of the entries is as much admiring as it is strictly factual. Their detailed descriptions of albums, songs, and even artists' tone colors and interpretations within specific songs are testament to their expertise. They also lament the loss of jazz divisions at many major record companies, leaving independent labels to carry the lion's share of the responsibility for documenting this art form.

Changes from the previous edition are worth mentioning. The artist index, missing from the seventh edition, has returned in response to reader demand, but to maintain what the authors consider a reasonable physical size for the volume, they have eliminated entries "which have seemed to stand still in recent years through the lack of any new releases by the artist in question." In some particularly long entries containing extensive lists of albums, they offer an "in brief" section, which allows for the inclusion of less-important yet still worthwhile recordings by presenting shorter descriptions.

Another important feature is the "Core Collection" selections. Within the listings for some artists, recordings considered essential for a basic jazz library are printed in bold type and described in greater detail. A separate list of these 200 titles would have been useful for those who are looking to build their own collections without having to wade through the entire book to find these seminal works.

Libraries holding the seventh edition, without the author index, will probably want this one. Anything older will certainly need to be updated. Steven York
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

? It's the kind of book that you?ll yank off the shelf to look up a quick fact and still be reading two hours later.?
?"Fortune"

? The leader in its field . . . if you own only one book on jazz, it really should be this one.?
?"International Record Review"


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Customer Reviews

Buy it... Now for the small stuff.
Leopold Stotch
I have been acquiring The Penguin Guide to Jazz since the 4th Edition.
Robert H. Blackburn
Indispensible reference for any true Jazz fan.
Harry Lichtenbaum

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Leopold Stotch on December 2, 2008
Format: Paperback
...before I go any further, it should be said that Cook and Morton's jazz guide is absolutely essential, a wonderfully witty book that is both a tremendous reference and an unbelievably fun tome to just open at random pages and start reading. I was terribly sad to learn that, between the eighth and ninth editions, Richard Cook passed away. Morton's affectionate obituary -- done as a PGTJ review -- is quite touching and amusing.

If you are new to the Penguin Guide, this is a great an edition to start with as any. The core information remains valid and reasonably up to date, and the prose -- knowledgeable, candid, humorous, and snippy -- is as engaging and delightful as ever. Longtime Penguin Guide connoisseurs, however, may be confused by some of the revisions and decisions that went into this edition. Before I begin knitpicking (and I'm only halfway through it), please let me say that all of what is below is marginal and in now way a reflection on the overall quality of the book. Buy it...

Now for the small stuff.

While a lot of mistakes have been ironed out of the last edition (mostly copy-editing-type errors), there are still annoying inconsistencies, especially with accidentally crediting, say, a piano player with bass in the personnel listings. Also, there is a lot of weird inconsistent spacing in the columns. A small complaint, perhaps, but Cook and Morton work with limited space, and any mis-handled space is wasted space that could be filled with more of their great writing. In general, the copy-editing continues to disappoint me.

Also, check out Bobby Previte's bio entry -- it seems to actually be a review from a different section of the book. C'mon, Penguin editors!
Read more ›
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Robert H. Blackburn on December 4, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been acquiring The Penguin Guide to Jazz since the 4th Edition. The Ninth is an excellent continuation to the best publication for Jazz Collectors and new converts.
What is great about The Penguin Guide is that it serves the collector audience as well as being the best guide for those who has been bitten by the Jazz bug but who are seeking a road map for what is a brand new immense universe.
For the 2000+ CD Jazz collector, the exhaustive amount of information isn't gathered together and structured better in any other book built for the same purpose. The format which includes all of the necessary details such as dates, players, labels and locations fuels the avid collectors need for information. Without a doubt, recordings are presented that even the most thorough collector has missed or is reminded of in the Guide.
Of course, the funnest part of this colossal book is the rating system. The star system with the peppered Crown scoring is both affirming and maddening, i.e. how could McCoy Tyner's, "The Real McCoy" not be granted a crown but some other lesser (in my opinion) album get the award. But the surprises are also great. A friend of mine sent me a copy of Steve Harris & Zaum's, "Above Our Heads The Sky Splits Open" a few months before I ordered the Ninth Edition. My friend from Texas noted that he thought this might be one of the best contributions to Improvisational Jazz in recent years. Finding it in the new edition rated as a Crown record was a high point.
Of course, any avid Jazz fan will find artists not represented. Albert van Veenendaals absence particularly surprised me.
All in all, this companion is 99% perfect and essential for anyone who considers themselves a fan of the greatest music.

p.s. I am curious about any future plans to convert the Guide to an interactive software/DVD format ?!
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Hank Schwab on March 12, 2007
Format: Paperback
Of course this is a great reference, and with each edition, it gets better. Neophytes should not be scared off by the massiveness of the book. In fact, it's Core Collection and Four-Star-Plus-Crown features make it a good place to get an overview of jazz, and sort out what to buy from the thousands of jazz recordings available.

One thing to keep in mind, though: reviews, no matter how authoratative, are opinions. Some of the four-star recordings here are ones that I wouldn't give a second listen to. Some of my all-time favorites rate only 2 or 3 stars. Not that I'm right, but tastes do differ. On the whole, I think there is a bias toward the more experimental, avant-garde recordings. This actually makes for a good counterpoint to the hatchet job Ken Burns and Wynton Marsalis did in their PBS series, but still, it is a bias.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Leopold Stotch on January 17, 2007
Format: Paperback
I always look forward to the new edition of the Penguin Guide to Jazz, and Cook and Morton don't disappoint this time around. By this point, there's no need for me to comment on the quality of the reviews -- they are consistently well-informed, thoughtful, pithy, and with any dash of sarcasm always undercut by genuine affection and reverence for this music. This is essential for any jazz lover -- be he/she a neophyte or someone already waist-deep in the music.

Their are some formatting developments in this edition. The index, absent from the last edition, has returned. I was pretty shocked and disappointed when it didn't make it into the last edition. They have introduced an "In Brief" section at the end of entries, which wraps up minor albums in an artist's ouevre. Generally it focuses on less essential titles -- works that are adequate but not spectacular -- and leaves the body of the entry to cover the highs and lows. Not a bad thing.

I will say that this edition suffers from poor copyediting. Some albums appear twice in the artist entry, and some sentences are clearly missing nouns/verbs/adjectives. Compared to the golden standard of previous editions, this is a bit disturbing.

And I guess Cook and Morton finally succumbed to all the nay-sayers who said that Michael Mantler is not jazz -- he is out of the book. That's too bad...
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