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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars

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on 2 May 2017
Not for me but the jazz aficionado recipient really liked it.
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on 20 September 2015
An excellent indeed unequalled volume which should be on the shelf of every aspiring and performing Jazz musician whether student or professional. I don't know how I have managed to be around Jazz for so long and not discovered this book before. I guess it might be that I am more of a practical player and have generally spend little time with my head in books. I tend to have my ears in my albums. That's where Jazz of the great masters resides, not in books.

That said, I think there is a very real need for a good grounding and knowledge of the material that makes up this great lexicon. I would definitely make and exception for this fine work! Get it. I don't think you will be disappointed!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 8 December 2014
I'm a sucker for this kind of book -- a kind of encyclopedia, really, that invites you to dip in wherever you want to. It appeals to me in the same way as the old "Penguin Guides to Classical Music on CD" used to. Here, the standards are alphabetically arranged by song title, and if you're like me, something you read in one of the essays will spark your curiosity and require you to look up another, and before you know where you are, you've spent a profitable half-hour and picked up a lot of interesting information. Goia writes very well, and each essay discusses the origins of the song, it's authorship (and sometimes that is in dispute) along with information about whether the song and lyrics developed together or whether a lyricist set words to a pre-existent melody. Little biographical snippets about composers and lyricists sometimes are relevant, and the earliest performance history that we know about is discussed. Goia will also note that some songs fall out of favor for a while, and perhaps renewed interest is sparked by a recording, which leads to further recordings. Goia's accounts of the recording histories are selective -- he mentions the recordings he thinks are most interesting for musical or historical reasons, and each essay ends with a short list of recommended recordings.

The only drawback that I've encountered is that I can think of songs that might seem to deserve a listing and don't get it. However, given the amount of material out there, one appreciates that Goia had to draw the line somewhere. Highly recommended for jazz fans and inveterate browsers.
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on 8 October 2014
all ok
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on 20 September 2012
It's important to remember that Ted Gioia chose not to write about 252 great songs, but about 252 musical packages of raw material for great improvisations. He attempts to answer the question of why jazz musicians like to play these particular songs over and over again, and his succinct (1- to 3-page) essays on each tune do a very good job of explaining the attraction for lay listeners.

What turns an "exercise in frustrated phraseology" like "Come Rain or Come Shine" into such a memorable song? How do the monotonous phrases of "Falling In Love With Love" fall into such an irresistible groove despite themselves? The author claims that his song selection represents the most frequently performed and recorded tunes in the repertoire, and the result is an almost equal division between Broadway/Tin Pan Alley and jazz originals from "Tin Roof Blues" to "Wave." (Plenty of Monk, Ellington, and Jobim, but no Radiohead or Nick Drake -- not yet.)

I love the historical anecdotes that Gioia provides as well. Bill Evans's New Jersey accent finally produces a plausible explanation for the title of Miles Davis's "Nardis," while the story of how a half million audience members turned "Muskrat Ramble" into a giant singalong at Woodstock (where Country Joe McDonald renamed it the "I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die Rag") is a masterpiece of bleak humor. This is a fun book to pull down from the reference shelf. Fun and musically enlightening.
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on 20 July 2013
Excellent, very readable and accessible reference book. Highly recommended for anyone who listens to jazz of any period or style. Further establishes Ted Gioia as one of the premier contemporary writers on jazz.
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on 21 July 2014
A useful book of many of the better known jazz standards. Perhaps the information given is useful, but not all the statements are ones that I would agree with, such as who produced the best recording of the tune in question. Worth having on your shelf if you like good music!
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on 4 November 2013
Interesting sketches illustrating the jazz history. I have at least one recording for 208 of the 252 standards selected by Ted Gioia, in my iTunes library. I agree with most of Gioia's selections but I was a bit surprised to see songs that are, in my mind, more pop than jazz. Gioia loves samba, but he seems to be tepid about blues. While I totally approve Brazilian songs when Stan Getz plays, I was sad to note the absence of some of my favourite pieces like After Supper, Blues in the Alley, Blues To Be There, Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue, If I Could be With You, Lil' Darlin', Moonglow, Slow Blues, Way Back Blues and Weary Blues.
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on 13 August 2016
i was initially a little disappointed when this book came through ..was hoping for some musical examples ..but , i have used it to find out information on tunes that i've listened to and taught ..ie : indiana was written by a guy who had not been there lol! did you know that? ..there are soooo many really interesting songs,..each with their unique story to tell .. i'm really starting to like this book , a lot!
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on 20 February 2015
This is a great read for all music fans, and for jazz musicians in particular. Knowing more about the story behind the creation of a song is priceless, and the getting "best performance" tips on each standard is also great. It's a shame all the version listed there don't come in a CD, or a link to a stream on the web.... A volume 2 is needed, as a lot of Real Book standards are still missing here.
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