Somewhere on earth there is probably a jazz musician who does not know Bill Kirchner. But he or she must be in deep cover; Kirchner is known and esteemed by jazz people all over the U.S. and abroad. Oxford could not have chosen a better editor for this compact but wide-ranging volume than Kirchner: composer, arranger, saxophonist, historian, record and radio producer, educator, leader of the Bill Kirchner Nonet, and all around class act. The book begins with an astute pairing of historical essays -- Samuel A. Floyd Jr.'s "African Roots of Jazz" and William H. Youngren's "European Roots of Jazz" -- and with vigor and style takes it from there. This is not a mechanical or academic collection. Rather it reflects the savvy, open-mindedness, erudition, and general panache of its editor's musical intelligence. Like the finest of the big bands, the result is unique, quirky, highly flavored and accented -- and not to be missed!
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