The Penguin Guide To Jazz C/D

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god, but oxfam's getting expensive these days.

tom west (thomp), Saturday, 8 July 2006 00:41 (fourteen years ago) link

I keep a copy in my bathroom.

JMMMusic (Jimmy M), Saturday, 8 July 2006 02:12 (fourteen years ago) link

that's where mine has ended up!

tom west (thomp), Saturday, 8 July 2006 12:08 (fourteen years ago) link

i enjoy it. it seems in the edition i have - The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, LP, and Cassette, 1992 - to be nicely open minded about free jazz and free improv and such as well. However it's a bit annoying that it's so tied to what's in print - the entry on Sonny Sharrock f'r'example starts with 'Guitar' and seems to assume prior knowledge of his earlier recordings, which is a little odd.

tom west (thomp), Saturday, 8 July 2006 12:09 (fourteen years ago) link

Classic, sure.

Mark (MarkR), Saturday, 8 July 2006 17:18 (fourteen years ago) link

I was going to buy it for $5.00, but then I didn't.

Ivan Gallardo (Ivan), Saturday, 8 July 2006 17:50 (fourteen years ago) link

Someone recommended it to me when I asked what would be a good book to read about Jazz, but when I looked at it it seemed to be all encyclopaedia style entries rather than a narrative history of the genre. So maybe for some people it does the job, but not for me.

DV (dirtyvicar), Wednesday, 12 July 2006 11:14 (fourteen years ago) link

It would work if they'd tried to do it from the David Thomson "disguised autobiography" angle, but they don't and a lot of their judgements are very suspect. Possibly Geoff Dyer might make a better fist at it.

Marcello Carlin (nostudium), Wednesday, 12 July 2006 11:18 (fourteen years ago) link

what do penguins know about anything...besides being adorable that is!

latebloomer (latebloomer), Wednesday, 12 July 2006 11:49 (fourteen years ago) link

I have a soft spot for this guide because it was the first (and only) jazz guide I ever owned, and just from flipping around through it I wound up buying a ton of great records (and also more than a few middling ones). The writing can be pretty funny at times (the "tie me to a chair" bit in the McLaughlin entry), and their enthusiasm in others can be pretty contagious. The conventional wisdom is that it leans too heavily on European free-improv, but I think that's off the mark--there's a great balance in the book between old and new, and I don't see how anyone could say they are anything less than reverent towards the old masters.

When I was looking at it, um, hourly, this was pre-internet, of course, so now I'm not sure how really useful it is. In fact, the major flaw of the book (at least in the early editions, this could have changed) was that they never listed the full discography of an artist, only what was "available" at the time. For instance, "Unity" isn't listed in the Larry Young entry in the edition I have, but it's mentioned in passing in the text. It can lead to an incomplete picture.

I'd say if you're a jazz fan and you see it used, it's definitely worth adding to your shelf (or at least to your bathroom).

Lynco (lync0), Wednesday, 12 July 2006 12:02 (fourteen years ago) link

Totally CLASSIC, c'mon people.

mcd (mcd), Wednesday, 12 July 2006 13:54 (fourteen years ago) link

Oh, it's the Cook & Morton book yer talking about, right!?
That's a great book. The new edition (8th? or is it already 9th??)'ll be out this autumn, I've heard. will certainly get that :)

tiit (tiit), Wednesday, 12 July 2006 14:11 (fourteen years ago) link

fourteen years pass...

I've just bought the 9th edition on a late-night internet shopping jag.

Tracer Hand, Sunday, 6 June 2021 22:33 (two weeks ago) link

Miss this guide. Miss annual or regularly updated record guides like the Penguin classical, even if I don’t need them any more.

Van Halen dot Senate dot flashlight (Boring, Maryland), Sunday, 6 June 2021 22:42 (two weeks ago) link

I wish they had put out an ultimate edition e-book that included every single one of their album reviews EVER. (Deletions between updated editions could be frustrating.)

birdistheword, Sunday, 6 June 2021 23:21 (two weeks ago) link

The original (1992) guide was extremely helpful to me in navigating, for instance, the discographies of some of the European musicians — Brötzmann, Bailey, Evan Parker, Schlippenbach, et al — but later editions (starting around the 4th or 5th) heaped praise on some decidedly mediocre artists, which was disappointing.

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Monday, 7 June 2021 00:37 (two weeks ago) link

Also, the last time I saw it, in the 2000s, somebody had downgraded several Sonny Sharrock albums, with no explanation, which was the worst part.

dow, Monday, 7 June 2021 01:15 (two weeks ago) link

I think Brian Morton had once stated they disagreed on the merits of Renè Marie (Cook on the pro side).

Van Halen dot Senate dot flashlight (Boring, Maryland), Monday, 7 June 2021 02:17 (two weeks ago) link

Last year I read the 10th and presumably final edition; it changed the format to feature only 1001 most notable recordings, rather than provide an encyclopedic overview. I can see the rationale for going into greater detail about better records rather than making long lists that include mediocrities (although I'm glad the writers used both approaches over the years). It introduced me to records by artists like Noah Howard and Billy Bang that I might otherwise have overlooked.
Am I right that wide-ranging music books like these are basically no longer publishable? I don't image the Rolling Stone Album Guide will be revived after the Fourth Edition in 2004.

Halfway there but for you, Monday, 7 June 2021 03:18 (two weeks ago) link

i assume they're not since i don't see them being published, though i'm not looking very hard, the internet has made me lazy

i have an extremely weathered copy of the 8th which was basically my bible getting into jazz & i still use it to find a lot of great stuff. now more than then i notice the (too strong imo) bias towards euro improv & against anything too pop, soul, R&B, funk, disco etc which i have had to learn to correct for (though they appreciate electric miles, hardly a sure thing for jazz nerds back then). for ,classic artists' discographies i take issue with their likes & dislikes more now than i did, but they probably helped me gain the confidence to do so at all. i like that they are opinionated, i like that they take for granted that the avant-garde stuff is worthwhile. my perfect version of a book like this (keep the snark & skronk, don't shortchange the more populist stuff, also loads more african & latin music) is probably unworkable (or impossible without additional volumes & writers), then or now

Left, Monday, 7 June 2021 12:47 (two weeks ago) link

I wish they had put out an ultimate edition e-book that included every single one of their album reviews EVER. (Deletions between updated editions could be frustrating.)

― birdistheword, Monday, 7 June 2021 00:21 (two days ago) bookmarkflaglink

and

Am I right that wide-ranging music books like these are basically no longer publishable? I don't image the Rolling Stone Album Guide will be revived after the Fourth Edition in 2004.

― Halfway there but for you, Monday, 7 June 2021 04:18 (two days ago) bookmarkflaglink

Are there Kindle or e-versions of this sort of guide? Seems like the natural format for it. Searchable, no limit on length.

Tracer Hand, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 23:35 (two weeks ago) link

The Penguin Guide comes up on Google books - why it's not offered as an e-book, I have no idea, but they've already scanned the damn thing and made the text searchable.

birdistheword, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 23:47 (two weeks ago) link

I guess I just feel like... isn't this the time to shine for books like this? More music available than ever before, but no way of knowing what fits where, who knew who, what led to what. Streaming services are pretty good at personalizing playlists, but in terms of making sense of artists' careers and the narrative of genres Spotify's got all the explanatory power of a spreadsheet.

And on the writing side, text is more manageable and portable than ever before.

So..???

Tracer Hand, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 23:53 (two weeks ago) link

Nobody wants to pay the writers

THIS. MUST END.

Tracer Hand, Wednesday, 9 June 2021 11:59 (two weeks ago) link


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