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Customer Review

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Justice for Jazz, 25 Sept. 2013
This review is from: The Bluffer's Guide to Jazz (Bluffer's Guides) (Paperback)
`The Bluffer's Guide to Jazz' is one of a series of guides to a diverse range of subjects and the publisher's light-hearted claim is that they allow readers to instantly acquire all that is needed to pass as an expert in whatever the guide title specifies - embracing sports, pastimes, music, cinema, pets, business, food and drink etc. - and even sex!

Jazz is perhaps an awkward subject as there are so many points of view and jazz enthusiasts are notorious for forcibly expressing differing opinions, but in ebullient manner this is immediately accepted by writers Paul Barnes and Peter Gammond. Ostensibly they seek to equip readers with both a whole vocabulary and a variety of techniques to ensure they can pass as experienced and knowledgeable jazz aficionados. In addition to `tongue in cheek', witty, lampooning style similar to that adopted for entertaining magazine articles there are sections where the authors clearly set out to mislead or enrage readers by introducing erroneous statements and expressing contradictory judgements.

This is all fine and the writing is full of witticisms and humour, but `The Bluffer's Guide to Jazz' also incorporates serious issues and is brimming with facts. In its small form within only a few pages the guide does justice for jazz. The contents span the origins of jazz, early influences, how the music flourished and developed, the huge range of jazz types and many of the key players and groups, with notes on their instruments and line-ups. All is presented in an innocently mocking manner, and towards the end there are suggestions on what jazz pieces and albums readers need to know - but beware of satire. Also there is a glossary of terms that continues the burlesque and caricaturing style to the end. Jazz is an ideal subject for the `bluffer' approach, and `The Bluffer's Guide to Jazz' makes full use of a frivolous style to do justice to what is magnificent musical art in a multitude of forms - viewed so differently by jazz enthusiasts. Readers can go forth and verbally skirmish with the best of them!
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