AllenLowe

Yanow Is Here

171 posts in this topic

I think there's room for all types of criticism.

When I started getting really interested in jazz, in 1960, I bought a book called "Jazz on record", which I've still got, its pages now a delicate brown. This concentrated on music on LPs released in Britain and was extremely superficial and limited. There was NO soul jazz mentioned: no Jimmy Smith, not even listings of Horace Silver albums. Not much hard bop either - no Mobley or McLean. I soon found out what was missing. But nonetheless, it was useful to me in its time, if only for placing musicians covered in their context.

And now it's useful as a record of what established critics thought in those days. I think one of the big problems with the Web is that it's only NOW - nothing's necessarily permanent to form a historical record of what people thought in a particular era (a much bigger issue than jazz, of course).

MG

Don't know if we're thinking of two different books because the "Jazz on Record" I know came out in 1968 -- "Jazz on Record: A Critical Guide to the First 50 Years, 1917-1967" --stuff from Max Harrison, Charles Fox, Eric Thacker, Jack Cooke (I believe), Michael James, Ronald Atkins, Paul Oliver, Alun Morgan (all Jazz Monthly people). IMO it's among the best seat of the pants jazz criticism there is. I can't find my copy any more, sad to say. Even better (because the entries are longer and focus on single recordings) if you can find a copy, is the second book from this crowd: "Modern Jazz: The Essential Records, 1945-70."

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i agree with you larry, these two books are excellent. many years ago, my brother gave me an earlier, smaller book of jazz reviews by harrison and company. i used it as a starting place to increase my awareness of different jazz styles. what's more, the intelligent writing was enjoyable to read. amg can be informative (when it's not misinformed), but i don't look to it to be enriched and entertained.

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When I decided to listen to Jazz I found Marshall Stearn's 'The Story Of Jazz' I think it was called. I read books in stores, couldn't afford them, so over a half hour I went thru it as fast as I could before they kicked me out (no Barnes and Noble vibe in those days), and I figured Charlie Parker's Savoy 120014 with Ko Ko was the place to start.

But it was a book by John Wilson, something along the lines of Jazz On Record that I found invaluable. He wasn't prejudiced against any style, something that was important to me as I was just starting with Jazz.

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I think there's room for all types of criticism.

When I started getting really interested in jazz, in 1960, I bought a book called "Jazz on record", which I've still got, its pages now a delicate brown. This concentrated on music on LPs released in Britain and was extremely superficial and limited. There was NO soul jazz mentioned: no Jimmy Smith, not even listings of Horace Silver albums. Not much hard bop either - no Mobley or McLean. I soon found out what was missing. But nonetheless, it was useful to me in its time, if only for placing musicians covered in their context.

And now it's useful as a record of what established critics thought in those days. I think one of the big problems with the Web is that it's only NOW - nothing's necessarily permanent to form a historical record of what people thought in a particular era (a much bigger issue than jazz, of course).

MG

Don't know if we're thinking of two different books because the "Jazz on Record"...

You probably are as the Magnificent Goldberg lives in Wales. It's a title that has been used a few times, including by the subject of this thread. :lol:

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I think there's room for all types of criticism.

When I started getting really interested in jazz, in 1960, I bought a book called "Jazz on record", which I've still got, its pages now a delicate brown. This concentrated on music on LPs released in Britain and was extremely superficial and limited. There was NO soul jazz mentioned: no Jimmy Smith, not even listings of Horace Silver albums. Not much hard bop either - no Mobley or McLean. I soon found out what was missing. But nonetheless, it was useful to me in its time, if only for placing musicians covered in their context.

And now it's useful as a record of what established critics thought in those days. I think one of the big problems with the Web is that it's only NOW - nothing's necessarily permanent to form a historical record of what people thought in a particular era (a much bigger issue than jazz, of course).

MG

Don't know if we're thinking of two different books because the "Jazz on Record" I know came out in 1968 -- "Jazz on Record: A Critical Guide to the First 50 Years, 1917-1967" --stuff from Max Harrison, Charles Fox, Eric Thacker, Jack Cooke (I believe), Michael James, Ronald Atkins, Paul Oliver, Alun Morgan (all Jazz Monthly people). IMO it's among the best seat of the pants jazz criticism there is. I can't find my copy any more, sad to say. Even better (because the entries are longer and focus on single recordings) if you can find a copy, is the second book from this crowd: "Modern Jazz: The Essential Records, 1945-70."

Same book, but mine's an earlier edition. I've lost the title page and front cover, but I remember Harrison and Fox were two of the four contributors. Also Alexis Korner wrote the Blues & R&B bits. Maybe Morgan was the fourth.

What you got in my edition was a short piece on the musicians, which incorporated refs to the albums listed at the end of each musician's piece.

I found it very useful in identifying the "acknowledged masters" - ie people whose records I could safely avoid buying, because I wouldn't ever have trouble finding them, when the supply of interesting minor figures ran out. But that supply never has run out.

MG

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When I read something by something by Yanow or any other reviewer,critic,what have you-I use it primarily for informational purposes but the final purchasing decision is always mine.

Edited by chris olivarez

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Which is how it's supposed to be. We merely provide clues to readers whether they would like the recording or not.

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Is this the book?

JazzOnRecord.jpg

Publisher: Hanover Books, London (distributed in USA by Oak Publications)

First Published: Autumn 1968

Guess I have a 1st Edition.

If this is the bok you are talkingabout, Larry, I totally agree.

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That's the one I have too.

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Yes, Chris, that's the one, but I've lost my copy. On the other hand, I've stolen from it so many times over the years, and/or just incorporated the parts I've agreed with, that I've probably got most of the book stored away in my memory.

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All I know is that I'm reading posts by Allen Lowe and Larry Kart, and I look at the bottom of the page and see next to my own name that Scott Yanow and Chris Albertson are also reading this thread, and I think to myself, "how the hell did I get into this club???" :blink:

I feel that way myself sometimes on this board

Mount_Rushmore.JPG

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This is a fascinating thread, voyeurism and all...

Whitney Balliett sure is fallible. For example, in the liner notes he wrote in 1956 for the Pacific Jazz album "Grand Encounter -- 2 Degrees East, 3 Degrees West," with John Lewis, Bill Perkins, Jim Hall, Percy Heath, and Chico Hamilton, after praising the certainly praiseworthy Perkins for his gentle lyricism, Balliett went on to say this: "There is [in Perkins' playing] none of the hair-pulling, the bad tone, or the ugliness that is now a growing mode, largely in New York, among the work of the hard-bopsters like Sonny Rollins, Hank Mobley, and JR Monterose."

I bought a remaindered copy of Balliett's Collected Works: A Journal of Jazz and read almost all of it (skimmed in places). The guy hates hard bop, and constantly throws in such digs at the genre. I don't feel confident enough to say "fallible," but his tastes are sufficiently different from mine (I listen to lots of hard bop, for instance) that I wouldn't go by his recommendations.

I like reading Balliet for his language, not for his taste. Sometimes his tastes and mine intersect, sometimes not. But his use of the language, stylized though it often is, is enough for me.

I agree with Sangrey: Balliett is all about the language. I will never forget his description of Pee Wee Russell as "stooped like a parenthesis." That's good writing, whether you agree with his taste in music or not.

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Is this the book?

JazzOnRecord.jpg

Publisher: Hanover Books, London (distributed in USA by Oak Publications)

First Published: Autumn 1968

Guess I have a 1st Edition.

If this is the bok you are talkingabout, Larry, I totally agree.

I've scanned in the last page of my intro, since I no longer have the title page or the cover.

It's clearly an earlier version of the book, with a somewhat different, and smaller, bunch of critics. In additon to the three signing off the intro, Alexis Korner did the Blues & R&B stuff.

At the end, there's an appendix listing albums issued in Britain too late for inclusion, which includes "Sketches of Spain", so it's easily dateable to 1960.

The rant towards the end of the into is very nice! And still topical!

MG

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I'm really not sure what Allen Lowe's problem is with me. It seems like a lot of random name calling with some kind of hidden agenda that is unknown to me. I've been fair and usually favorable to his recordings through the years and find his writing to be generally thought-provoking. The fault I find is that if someone does not reach the same conclusions as he does, then he brands the person an idiot.

I'm not trying to start further trouble here, but I did find this Scott Yanow reference to Allen Lowe in an AMG review of a Pete Fountain CD."New Orleans All Stars." I don't think it's been mentioned in this thread.

The blurb on the back of this CD says that "this comprehensive collection of various sessions features inspired solos by Fountain, pianists, trombonists, trumpeters, and even the occasional tuba player." Pity that no tuba player ever appears. With all due respect to liner note writer Allen Lowe and the others involved in this reissue, one wonders if any of them actually heard the music.

http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&a...10:ez1uak3khm3p

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actually I agree with him on that one - I think it was a Ryko reissue for which I did the sound restoration and the notes - we were never really sure what the final product was going to be and it was often a mess -

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Completely off topic: Wasn't the "Twizzle" the name of the dance that Buddy and Sally found happening in a bowling alley in the Dick Van Dyke Show?

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Completely off topic: Wasn't the "Twizzle" the name of the dance that Buddy and Sally found happening in a bowling alley in the Dick Van Dyke Show?

right you are! however, there's another twizzle that might have inspired our fellow board member:

twizzle.jpg

"Twizzle was a boy doll who ran away from a toy shop. He soon joined Footso, a little black cat with big paws. Together they built Stray Town, where all the stray toys in the world could go and live in peace, safe from a world where their young owners pulled them about and treated them badly.

In his many adventures, Twizzle met and made many friends. Among them were Jiffy the Broomstick Man, and Chawky the white-faced Golliwog. With them were Polly Moppet, Candy Floss the momma doll, who couldn't say "momma", and Bouncy the ball who'd lost his bounce.

Twizzle was so called as he could extend, or rather 'cri.. crick" his arms and legs, and be tall as a lamp post, or even taller! Twizzle's pride and joy was his brick-red Breakdown Van, which he got off his garage mechanic friend in exchange for a sprite sportscar, given to him by a doll he had saved from a burning house. Footso liked the van better, too, as at least he had legroom!"

for a real hoot, check out the little bugger's theme song: twizzle theme

Edited by jazzshrink

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In his many adventures, Twizzle met and made many friends. Among them were Jiffy the Broomstick Man, and Chawky the white-faced Golliwog. With them were Polly Moppet, Candy Floss the momma doll, who

Very interesting, but you left out Shelly, the greedy ex-wife, Sapperstein the blood sucking attorney and Vince the brawny loan shark.

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Amusing thread, this one.

Now I'm pretty new to this forum but certainly not to jazz listening and record collecting - in fact I'm into my 32nd year of buying and collecting Jazz records (I started at the age of 15) so I figure I'm not that dumb as far as the music, its makers and its history are concerned.

And yet - even after all these years, I gladly admit the AMG Guide to Jazz (2nd edition) I got hold of sometime in the 90s came in very useful to me indeed, as did the Third Ear "Essential listening companions" on Swing and Bebop, and I have been consulting them from time to time ever since I got them.

I don't quite get it why so many around here seem to have a bone to pick with Scott Yanow (but then I can't and won't read all the threads that mention his name) but just to get my 2c in on this:

I never would have thought any of his guides (or any other guides, except maybe those old, yellowed writings by that irascible Hugues Panassié :D ) might have been intended to tell the reader (and jazz fan) what he is SUPPOSED to buy and appreciate.

I realize newcomers would use Yanow's books to guide them through the flood of reissues, bit I, for one, use Yanow's books rather as a more or less rough check list on what there was available (again) at the time of writing and just to see if I may have overlooked any major work of any artist that might fall within the scope of the kind of jazz I am most interested in.

I certainly don't go along with all of his judgments and there are a few glaring errors and omissions (I admit I once could not resist the temptation of mentioning this in a reader's review on Amazon :D ), but his comments on a disc he either likes or dislikes in most cases give at least a hint of why one might want to obtain it or not. And I am certainly grateful to Scott Yanow for tipping me off to the existence of this or that LP or CD that from his description filled a gap in my collection (nobody knows'em all - is there anybody out there who can claim he is familiar with ALL reissues worldwide of the jazz, say, of 1930 to 1960 released during the past 35 years or so?).

On the bottom line everybody ought to make his own judgments anyway. Sometimes I even find myself browsing through those early Down Beat Record Reviews yearbooks or the review sections of old copies of Orkester Journalen or Jazz Hot and compare their reviews with those of Yanow's guide - it is amazing and highly amusing to see how you sometimes get three or four totally different assessments! So what ... those of us who've been into jazz for a while, we all are able to judge for ourselves, aren't we, so do we always have to agree with Scott Yanow anyhow?

In short, nobody's perfect, but if you need some extra written information on the recorded music and if you refer to and rely on more than one source, Yanow's books aren't that bad as ONE of these sources. And then you decide for yourself and you know where to go from there.

By the way, Mr Yanow, if you read this: Is there any likelihood we'll ever see the WEST COAST JAZZ volume of the Third Ear Essential Listening Companion mentioned as a "forthcoming" volume in one of the other books (Swing or Bebop)? How about it?

So long - and take it easy, everybody, it's only music ... -_-

Edited by Big Beat Steve

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I guess it really is true that the vitriol get higher as the stakes get smaller! I know it's crazy to think that-- with all the forces conspiring (consciously and not) to gut jazz of any vitality-- we could all just get along... but it would be nice to keep the obvious mischaracterizations and ad hominems to a minimum.

I think it's cool that Scott Yanow does what he does. Having and using guides doesn't mean one isn't doing their own listening or thinking... glad to see that Chuck Nessa agrees.

Look, the world of jazz is vast and gets larger with every passing year... and my ability to find and afford recordings-- not to mention time to listen to them-- is small. I am often confronted with making choices of what to purchase relatively blindly: things I haven't heard, relationships I don't know about, etc. Yanow's style of criticism as I understand it (from AMG and a few books) is very helpful. Not because he listens for me or because I will agree, but it helps me negotiate a path. That's a good thing.

This does nothing to take away from long form, in-depth, criticism and exploration of other kinds. That's invaluable too. That I like chicken one day doesn't take away from my liking steak. It's not a zero-sum game unless we make it so. I'm glad all these incredibly knowledgeable folks are participating here.

I'm really glad they don't all agree!

(Oh, and posting private e-mail, no matter the kind of content, is a pretty crappy thing to do. Doesn't mean I don't agree with the negative characterizations of the email, but posting private words to a public forum intrinsically says a lot more negatively about that poster than the originator of the email.)

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