Customer Review

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for jazz musicians and fans, September 30, 2012
This review is from: The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire (Hardcover)
This is a fantastic book for musicians and for anyone interested in the jazz standard repertoire. Gioia has intriguing histories of over 250 standards, with a good dose of personal opinion and experience mixed in.

The listings of recordings are excellent. I found that a simple a two-page description of a tune can turn into an odyssey. I tracked recorded versions, compared, looked at printed versions and generally deconstructed and reconstructed chords and melody lines to get inside particular tunes. For example, listening back-to-back to a widely interpreted tune like Blue Moon is an eye-opener, from The Bad Plus's out there 2000 version, to Ellla Fitzgerald's lampooning of the Marcels' absurd best-selling doo-wop version to Tommy Dorsey's terrible attempt at corn to Dean Martin's syrupy version to Frank Sinatra's straight-ahead version with some tasty jazz trumpet thrown in; like a run-on sentence it makes for a crazy ride.

More seriously, take Rollin's Airegin, with some excellent versions by Chris Potter, Wes Montgomery and (of course) Miles Davis. Gioia gives us some insight to the tune, describing the unusual lengths of the ABC structure and how Davis's reconfiguring of one section into an 8-bar F-minor vamp gives us a portent of his later modal work.

Any gigging musician will find themselves bringing the book along with them to dig further into the tunes they are playing. Fans too will appreciate a deeper understanding of the tunes. Gioia plays a nice line between giving musicians a taste of some of the more technical issues without losing the general reader.

Is there Book 2 coming out in a couple of years (hint, hint)? I'll buy it sight unseen.
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