19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars
excellent guide but........., 3 May 2009
This is a very good guide to jazz music, expertly researched and written. But i had some problems with it despite these grand qualifications.
There seemed to be some problem with reviews of "jazz " albums more on the fringes of jazz for example - world music and other cross over musical influences. The editors have some kind of personal view of the type of jazz that should be included and given good reviews and therefore star rated. Therefore they have a subjective view of what they consider jazz music to be. This sadly excludes what a lot listeners of music would consider really good jazz. The jazz guitarist pat metheny and most other jazz guitar players come off really badly in this biased compendium. jazz fusion is regarded as a turd to be stepped over.
For music fans new to jazz this is giving a biased view. For those with the same Conservative taste or elitist prejudices it just re enforces them. For those in the know at least a little it should be just considered a rough guide and not a bible.
The criticisms get in the way of exploring the music. The music that is battered or just plain omitted (ie Allan Holdsworth & Kurt Rosenwinkel amongst others)just shows the tunnel vision approach of the reviewers.
The discographies by the artists fall far short of being definitive and the rating system is absurd. I would recommend you ignore those completely.
The book often falls into the Wynton Marsalis trap of what is good jazz and bad jazz. reading between the lines the reviewers come across as being very conservative and also go to the extreme of progressive jazz (I like progressive jazz) The more middle ground seems to get ignored.
taste is down to the listener, the listener doesn't want to know the personal taste of the reviewer because it may not be their personal taste. jazz is a broad church.
Luckily i spent an afternoon in Waterstones where i could spend some time with the contents of this door stopper of a book. In the end i put it back on the shelf glad that i had not forked out £35 for someone who wished to rant over MY bad taste in music.
Unlike the reviewers i can appreciate and enjoy acoustic and electric jazz from all eras of jazz. They seem to forget that all the music needs is to be "musical" no matter how complex or simple, technically proficient or not (preferably proficient)and that musical depth is a relative thing.
Definitely worth buying, but on the condition that a lot of music which is really good is brushed almost under the carpet or sidelined as not being worthy. In a sense it is overly critical - i thought the music should do the talking. Keep an open mind when reading this book.
Just in case anyone is wondering what i listen to: John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Keith jarrett, Brad mehldau, Jim Hall, Bill Frisell, John Scofield, Metheny, Adam Rogers, Anthony Braxton, Derek bailey, Rosenwinkel, Django, tribal tech, Edward Vesala, John Surman, Gordon Beck, Ornette etc etc