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Customer Review

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dangerous territory, 27 July 2013
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This review is from: The Bluffer's Guide to Jazz (Bluffer's Guides) (Paperback)
I disagreed with most of the opinions in this book. But then I suppose that's one of the difficult things about expressing any opinions on jazz: they're very likely to be different from those of every other jazz enthusiast.

It's a whistlestop tour of the main movements in jazz, both in terms of the development of musical styles and the spread of jazz from its roots in the south up the Mississippi to Chicago, then to New York and the West Coast. It's irreverent and light-hearted, and it appears to share my dislike of self-congratulatory middle-aged English jazz musicians in straw boaters and striped blazers soliciting rounds of polite applause from the audience for every tepid over-rehearsed solo.

The authors, by the way, include Peter Gammond, whose music reviews I used to read assiduously in the 1980s and early '90s. He's a fairly safe pair of hands: if he likes something, it must at least be worth a listen. Unfortunately, he and fellow-author Paul Barnes tell some convincing but entirely made-up stories: there are a few "d'oh!" moments.

The list of essential records misses some of the very moist essential. Miles Davis's Kind Of Blue: not there. John Coltrane's Blue Train: AWOL. Keith Jarrett's The Köln Concert: missing without trace.

But then. Being a bluffer isn't about being obvious, certainly not in the field of jazz. It's about having left-field opinions and being able to argue them convincingly. Or so the authors argue, and there might be something in that position.

The point of the Bluffer's Guides is that they let you know the lay of the land. Once you have the basic framework of information in your head, you are in a much better position to explore for yourself. And they achieve that aim, although possibly in a slightly idiosyncratic way.

Note: The publisher sent me an electronic copy of the book for me to review.
Also note: The Amazon edition of Blue Train (linked above) is stunningly good value, with three other albums thrown in for free.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 1 Aug 2013 18:13:21 BDT
The moist essential?

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Aug 2013 19:31:29 BDT
Peter says:
Positively dripping with creative fervour.
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