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The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD: Seventh Edition (Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings) Paperback – September 28, 2004

4.1 out of 5 stars 89 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Wondering whether that old LP you have of Lester at Birdland is available on CD? When Branford and Wynton Marsalis have recorded together? The best collection of Billie Holiday tunes? If so, then this is the book for you. This fifth edition of Penguin's definitive guide to jazz recordings on compact disc expands on the stellar reputation of its predecessors, the first of which appeared in 1992. Organized alphabetically by artist, the book boasts more than 10,000 entries (approximately 2000 more than the fourth edition), an easier-to-read, two-column format, and bright white paper stock. Cook, an editor at Jazz Review, and Morton, a BBC announcer, have reappraised entries, deleting albums that have gone out of print and adding new releases. For example, under "John Zorn," readers will notice 20 more recordings. Each entry also offers complete label and numbering information, incisive critical commentary, personnel listings, and for the first time short biographical sketches of various artists. As in previous editions, each entry is given a shorthand rating of one to four stars. The writers' wit, attention to detail, and consistently incisive commentary make this essential for even the most discriminating jazz enthusiast. Libraries without the fourth edition (1998) should definitely purchase. David Valencia, King Cty. Lib. Syst., Federal Way, WA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


An invaluable reference tool for the wide-eyed beginner as well as the grizzled cynic. -- Chicago Tribune

Impressive and exhaustive. -- Billboard --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings
  • Paperback: 1728 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Revised edition (October 26, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141014164
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141014166
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 2.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #786,830 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. Allen Greenbaum HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on January 12, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
If the story of jazz is best found in the music itself, this is, far and away, your best guide to CDs. IT is simply the best jazz review book available.
The authors have exceptionally good, eclectic tastes; I detected no particular biases here. Other reviewers have complained a little about the relative emphasis on English and European performers. I found that this improved the coverage of jazz, and did not feel that American performers were slighted. Besides, these performers are excellent, perhaps underrated in America, and often record alongside musicians from many countries!
The authors clearly explain their rating system, and there is a valuable emphasis on the sound quality of the recordings. Excellent notes on personnel and dates of recording: This is important because publishers seem to constantly repackage their jazz CDs, sometimes the only way to know what you've got is to compare personnel and dates.
Another strength here is the biographies of the performers. There's lots of detail, and, as in the reviews, the authors don't refrain from fully critiqueing the records. Unfortuantely, this new edition does not have the small section on compilation CDs (i.e., Special limited-time gatherings of great musicians, such as the All-Star Metronome Band. Perhaps these are no longer in print, or they are now listed under the principle player(s), at any rate, I preferred the prior method of listing these separately.)
I think the reviews are fair and insightful. Of course, you'll disagree with some of them, but this is really an excellent guide to jazz musicians and their output. Their choice of musicians is thorough and appropriate (scant attention is paid to "light" jazz/pop artists such as Kenny G., etc.
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Format: Paperback
If you haven't bought one of these books, buy this one. If you own the 5th edition, however, save your money.
You have three primary choices for these "jazz guides": All Music Guide, MusicHound, and Penguin. AMG includes reviews of out-of-print CDs, and older LPs, which can be frustrating because you'll read glowing reviews of albums you won't be able to find. MusicHound is a compilation of reviews by different authors, so you can forget about any kind of consistency. Penguin is informative, contemporary, and consistent. It's your best choice.
This book features 1601 pages of CD reviews and artist biographies, not including the introduction and index. Whatever your level of knowledge, however long you've spent listening to jazz, you're sure to discover something new in this book. And that's a tremendous reward for Amazon's price.
On the other hand, as an update, this edition doesn't impress me. Significant artists like Mel Lewis and Carl Fontana still lack entries. Mick Goodrick, Christian McBride, and others have actually been removed. The artists suggest, in their introduction, that those noting omissions should get a life. Of course, no one's perfect. There are, however, both minor omissions and glaring omissions, and this edition still includes too many of the latter.
Jim McNeely, for example, is listed on page 1005, along with four of his CDs -- the most recent, from 1992. The authors ignore "The Power and the Glory" [Storyville, 2001] and "Play Bill Evans" [Stunt Records, 2002], which are forgivable omissions. I believe "In This Moment" [Stunt Records, 2003] was released too late to be included.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This really is an indispensable book for the jazz collector. The biggest advantage it has over the books referred to in some of the customer reviews is that it lists session information. If, like me, you like to wander into used record stores or Goodwills, you'll appreciate the listings of personnel and recording dates that you can find in this book.
The reviews are well written and very witty. The writers treat their subject seriously but not stodgily and, in some instances, their geographic distance allows them a measure of independence from US opinions of certain artists. Their treatment of two musicians in particular, Kenton and Brubeck, are unexpectedly fair, acknowledging their weakness, while pointing out what is interesting and valuable about their best music.
As to the attention given to European and avant-garde jazz: Thank God. American critics and fans alike seem to think that be-bop and hard bop are the only kinds of jazz worth considering. While one might quibble with some of Cook's and Morton's opinions-I tend to bypass most fusion albums-seasoned jazz collectors will be able to figure out what they're getting into from the accurate descriptions contained here. If you buy a Sam Rivers disc expecting something like Ben Webster, you can't say you weren't forewarned by these guys.
I do wonder why some readily available discs were not included. Gerry Mulligan's Pacific Jazz stuff is all still in print and isn't reviewed here (although it is included in previous editions).
My only complaint is that the small print, running across a fairly wide page, is a little tough for those of us who are bi-focaled. Otherwise, I hope to see this book in many editions to come.
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