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Jazz on Record - The First Sixty Years Hardcover – October 1, 2003
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Praise for the author: ."..the remarkable, indefatigable Scott Yanow."
Top customer reviews
Most recording review books are arranged by performer. This "text" is arranged by year of recording. It makes it a lot easier to place recordings you already have in context. Unfortunately, this can lead to more purchases.
The only faults I have with this tome are that it is heavy and, as the years pass, some of the reviewed recordings are harder and harder to find.
If you look at the purchase price of the book as a down payment on the recordings it will lead you to buy, it's still worth it.
I do not have a copy of the All Music Guide to Jazz : The Definitive Guide to Jazz Music or any other similar book, so I cannot compare their relative values.
Brief Contents --
1. 1895 - 1920 : The Lost Beginnings
2. 1921 - 1925 : Jazz Sweeps the Nation
3. 1926 - 1932 : From Boom to Bust
4. 1933 - 1938 : Swing's the Thing
5. 1939 - 1944 : The War Years
6. 1945 - 1949 : Bebop Spoken Here
7. 1950 - 1955 : West Coast vs. East Coast
8. 1956 - 1960 : A Time of Giants
9. 1961 - 1967 : The Race Toward Freedom
10: 1968 - 1976 : Fusion and Beyond
Yanow is a pro-jazz writer, rarely being over critical and one who believes that jazz today is even more vibrant than in years past--unlike the Ken Burns documentary (who believes that Jazz is almost dead save the new vocalists).
This is must get book and one that can be purchased at a discount--if not at Amazon or its agents, but I received a bargain copy at Half-Priced Books!! Highly recommended by serious jazz buffs!
That's all well and good but where the book is greatly lacking is in the extremely poor musical descriptions of individual albums apart from boring general terms like "soulful" "well played but a touch dull" "fascinating" ... you get the picture. Sometimes with recordings he describes as essential there is no musical description at all! (eg Monk's complete Blue Notes).
In the introduction he fails to clearly conceptualize the purpose of the book, apart from classifying it as a "history" book and stating it describes the most important available recordings of the most significant artists. But importantly he doesn't even mention his parameters for his musical descriptions, much less explain or attempt to justify them. And for a book supposedly about recordings I also wonder why we have to endure such irrelevent information about musicians' personal lives, drug taking etc yet extremely limited information about personnel and what instruments they played on the recordings mentioned.
It also contains lists of when people were born and died rather than when they were musically active - a rather pointless exercise in my view, especially as the book only covers a 60 year period. How much more useful would have been bar-graph timelines of the active periods of the most influential musicians.