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43 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great over-all guide to jazz
This is an excellent guide. However, don't be so quick to chuck the old editions away as many of the CD's go out of print, and later editions drop them from their index. With so many re-issues each year, I imagine it is an especially difficult task to keep abreast of the discographies of jazz artists.
The biographies are good. I especially like the fact that they...
Published on 26 May 2001

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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well-written, but not the best reference for US readers
The Penguin Guide is a well-written, informative survey of the field. It's the only jazz review omnibus I return to for pleasure, rather than for reference.
While this tome is more opinionated than competing reviews, it's good to have a consistent frame of reference. You learn what the authors like and dislike, and can apply that to your own preferences. The...
Published on 18 Mar 1999


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43 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great over-all guide to jazz, 26 May 2001
By A Customer
This is an excellent guide. However, don't be so quick to chuck the old editions away as many of the CD's go out of print, and later editions drop them from their index. With so many re-issues each year, I imagine it is an especially difficult task to keep abreast of the discographies of jazz artists.
The biographies are good. I especially like the fact that they have included so many European, Asian, African and South American artists. Jazz is truly global and most guides tend to focus to heavily on American jazz, treating jazz in other countries as step children. Not so with the Penguin Guide, it gives deservedly high marks to Tomasz Stanko of Poland, The Ganellin, Cekasin, Tarasov trio of Russia and Lithuania, etc. It may not be everyone's bag, but this guide certainly gives you the opportunity to explore new jazz sounds by providing illuminating descriptions of music the world over.
And, of course, there is everything you want to know about the quintessential jazz greats in the way of their recordings on CD. This guide will help you to form a CD library that will be the envy of your jazz friends. The star-rating system is a fairly good gauge of what to buy and not to buy. Plus, this guide give you juicy insights so that you can impress your friends with arcane bits of information.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you want to buy a book on jazz - this is it., 3 Feb 2001
By A Customer
For anyone interested in tracking down the major works (and less well-known works) of any significant artist in the history of jazz this encyclopaedic tome is an absolute gem - second to none.
Other books may provide the reader with comprehensive discographies and general overviews of an artist's work (e.g. AllMusic Guide To Jazz, Virgin Encyclopedia Of Jazz) but what these books singularly lack is the ability to inform the reader about the music itself - i.e. what the individual works actually sound like (especially in relation to other works produced by the same artist at different stages of their career).
The Penguin Guide To Jazz On CD, on the other hand, is one of those rare books that succeeds in engaging the reader in active dialogue. The authors' sometimes outspoken views on what is essentially a very subjective matter are a real joy to read (and to take issue with on occasion). Even where you disagree with their views on one artist, CD, or track you know you absolutely must see what they've got to say on the others. Not only is the book very informative - detailing each artist's career via their respective works - but the caustic, dry wit of the authors (which permeates this work throughout) will have you chuckling out loud from time to time: a constant reminder not to take things too seriously... this is jazz after all.
This is everything a good guide to jazz should be - comprehensive, witty, informative, argumentative, and - most importantly - it invites the reader to seek out the music for him or herself and to formulate your own opinion. This is a great book on jazz for novices and aficionados alike - if you are going to buy one book on jazz this year make sure it is this one for it will be an invaluable source of new territories to explore and a comprehensive reference work for years to come. Get with it.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jazz from A to Z, 14 Nov 2005
By 
James Ferguson (Vilnius, Lithuania) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
When it comes to Jazz, the Penguin Guide can't be beat. It offers the most complete, up-to-date catalog available on the market, covering an exceedingly broad range of jazz artists from around the world. Unlike other discographies, which tend to be American centered, Richard Cook and Brian Morton cover many European, Asian, Latin and African musicians, which will greatly expand your musical range. The guide tends to cover CD's that are in print, so out-of-print CD's and albums are not covered, except in the lengthy biographies the authors have prepared. They also have a very good rating system, which will help you to decide what to pick to add to your collection. I have found these guides to be invaluable aids over the years, keeping my past catalogs, as out-of-print CD's tend to be dropped from the discographies to make room for new releases.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An indispensable resource., 28 Aug 1999
By A Customer
A truly magnificent work and invaluable reference. What other reviewers of this book have mistaken for pomposity is actually a dry wit and unabashed critical eye. This is the only book on jazz recordings available which is both a buying guide and a collection of jazz criticism. The latter, so often misunderstood and underappreciated, is what makes the book joyful as well as informative to read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We call it THE BIBLE..., 13 Nov 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD (3rd ed) (Mass Market Paperback)
Here in Spain is difficult to hear Jazz, only a few FM programs late at night... So you ended up buying 90% of the CD's without solid references (you knew this or that musician, a friend's opinion, etc...) UNTIL I found this book. Not only gives a detailed (and subjective) view of each record, but when I compared with the CD's I already had I agreed in a high percentage. Now we call it as The Bible...
As other reviewers stated, what about a CD-ROM copy? With hypertext to link records/musicians, complete track list (and cover images...) Of course I also want the printed copy so I can have it in my bathroom... :-)
Waiting anxiously for the new release...
(Hi, how about an 'upgrade' option to the owners of previous releases?... Something like SW vendors do, you send the cover of the 'old' book and you get a rebate...)
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Invaluable, 17 Mar 2006
By 
pkx166h (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
While the Rough Guide and AMG are better in their potted biographies of various Jazz Musicians - they too do not cover everyone - they also do not give any real detail of the released material compared to this tome, and a mighty tome it is.
If you really want some idea of the actual music that was created, by whom and when, then this IS the Compendium for you, if you want a history of Jazz Musicians then look elsewhere, as while there is a para or two on each group/artist, this book concentrates solely on the music and the released material.
Yes the opinions are probably biased (Coltrane's Ascension is dreadful in my opinion) but the sheer enthusiasm of the writing by persons who really do love their subject cannot help but enthuse. They are also consistent, so that after a few purchases based on the detail here, you will know what to expect pretty much in terms of their preferences verus your own.
I guarantee that this book will be more than just a (shopping) list. I can sit for hours pouring over the informatyion. As a newcomer to Jazz music, I found this reference to be absolutely invaluable. There is a lot of 'Jazz' out there, this will help you define your tastes, I guarantee.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is the one to get!, 12 Feb 1999
By A Customer
This is the one I return to over and over. It is definitely the most comprehensive I have found. Discographies are complete, chronologies are well laid out, and most importantly, the reviews rarely fail to give good insight into the strengths and weaknesses of the discs. It's not a "buying guide" (thank goodness). But if, like me, you wonder where to begin checking out an artist with whom you're not familiar, this is the place. Especially helpful are the comments on the (skyrocketing) number of compilations. "Smooth" and " Light" artists who genuinely merit consideration are given their due, although some unquestionably legitimate artists (e.g., "West Coast") seem to have been slighted just a bit. Finally, yes, updates need to be online or published more frequently.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Jazz guide for those wanting opinions and humour !, 7 April 1999
By A Customer
This is simply the best on the market ! I've bought each of the four editions as they come out and they sit by my couch, constantly referred to. If you want bland approval of all and sundry, this is not for you. If you want to be intrigued, sent off in strange directions, amused by a frequently bizarre sense of humour then you'll love this volume. As well as being good on British and European jazz (though where's Tina May ?)Cook and Morton go further into the fringes of jazz than most. Get All Music for a comprehensive listing of what's been around, deleted or not. Get the Penguin for fascinating, eye-opening, often infuriating commentry !
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Intelligent Guide, worth buying, but not for everyone., 19 May 2001
By A Customer
This is an excellent book. It is well written by two knowledgeable and enthusiastic journalists. Their preference is for "classic jazz", and the book is aimed more at fans of Ellington, Parker, Mingus and the greats of the past. For people like me who came to jazz in the 1970's through ECM and the Mahavishnu Orchestra and have a broader, less purist view of what constitutes jazz; then the book can appear prejudiced against fusion and artists with a more commercial sound. Not surprisingly readers will be unable to find references to Dave Koz, Azymuth, Al Di Meola, Fourplay, Stanley Clarke or Tribal Tech in this volume. The omission of: Mark Isham, Kevin Eubanks, Lyle Mays, Bela Fleck, Ian Carr, Hubert Laws, Alan Holdsworth, Claus Ogerman, Trilok Gurtu, Adam Holzman, Steps Ahead, Rachel Z, Dieter Ilg and Kenny Kirkland gives a flavor of author preferences. Some 1990's artists do manage to achieve a critical stamp of approval: Iain Ballamy, Joshua Redman, Dave Douglas, MMW and Ron Miles, among them.
There are artists whose careers I have followed for many years, particularly: Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, Bobby Previte and Tommy Smith; where I disagree with the reviews and ratings on individual CD's. To summarize, it is an intelligent book and very useful to own. However I find the recommendations in the "Rough Guide to Jazz" more in tune with my likes and dislikes, and that book is more sympathetic to newer artists.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb reference, magnificently updated., 26 Feb 1999
By A Customer
Already out in the UK I bought this as soon as I saw it in the shop. You really can't go wrong with this. Every edition contains more excellent reviews. I checked for all the new reissues/releases as soon as I got it home and as in all the previous editions it's authoritative and essential. It is frustrating that new stuff displaces discs no longer available and that it is instantly out of date but an essential purchase nontheless.
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The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD (3rd ed)
The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD (3rd ed) by Brian Morton (Mass Market Paperback - 31 Oct 1996)
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