Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
JohnS

New Penguin Guide

56 posts in this topic

The new guide is out, It's now "a history of jazz in a 1000 recordings". Presumably it's a collection of reviews from previous editions. Authors are still Cook and Morton. It doesn't seem like a particularly good buy this time.

Anyone have it and care to comment.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Seems it day may have passed.

Back in the 90s - pre-internet - you had to scramble around for information here in the UK (even the jazz magazines had a habit of folding after a few issues). Availability of recordings was pretty random, especially if you lived outside London. You could get your basic jazz history easily enough and a rough idea on what was happening domestically but beyond that was pretty hard.

Those first Penguins were therefore a godsend to someone who knew the main story in part but didn't know the details or that they played jazz in Italy! Other books appeared but none were so comprehensive (I still treasure an all colour 'The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Jazz' by Stan Britt/Brian Case).

Now, just about everything is available and you can search out recommendations via Google or by simply asking in a place like this, getting a range of responses rather than comments limited to the authors' own prejudices.

*******************

According to Amazon it's now arranged in chronological order. Might still be useful as a starting point for someone new to jazz.

That's doesn't answer John's question, of course!

Reducing everyting to 1000 this or 100 that seems to be a bit of a cultural marker of our times.

Edited by A Lark Ascending

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

(I still treasure an all colour 'The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Jazz' by Stan Britt/Brian Case).

Bought that one too and still have it.

It was one of the few jazz tomes of the time which had piccies of the original album covers (like rare Dootos, Blue Notes etc) that you could salivate over. The critical selections were generally very good and have withstood the test of time.

As far as the Penguins are concerned, I prefer to get hold of the early editions with coverage of now OOP issues. The ones that haven't fallen apart at the seams (like my early editions) that is !

Edited by sidewinder

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My old Cook and Morton has about 1,500 pages with about 10 records per page ,so this 1,000 recording job is very slimmed down indeed. It was the comprehensiveness of C&M that did the trick for me, so I won't be getting the new one. As Bev says, a useful starting point for someone new to jazz.

While we're talking about jazz tomes, has anyone come across The Virgin Encyclopedia of Jazz ed. Colin Larkin? This 1,000 page item costing £40 was bought for me by colleagues as a retirement present 11 years ago and has certainly stood the test of time. It's arranged biographically in alphabetical order, with about 4 artists per page. At the end of each artist entry is a surprisingly comprehensive list of recordings. In the 11 years I've had it, I've brought it up to date by pencilling in the dates of death of those who have departed since 1999 - a sad duty. You won't be surprised to hear there's hardly a double page spread without at least one pencilled date now.

Edited by BillF

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't know the Larkin one.

Another one I quite enjoyed was (1993 I think):

7a92619009a0469fb8595110.L.jpg

Very much a coffee table book - not comprehensive, a bit Dorling-Kindersley in approach. But it has a good section recommending albums in various genres with colour cover reproductions. I ended up hunting down a fair few.

Very much a product of its times - a section on jazz dance, reflecting the whole Acid Jazz craze in the UK. Must have come out around the time that Courtney Pine, Andy Sheppard etc were nudging wider awareness. Didn't last.

Though my Bible in those early days was Joachim Berendt's 'The Jazz Book'. Bought in early 1977. I was marooned in Cornwall on teaching practice with no record collection - spent three months reading it and imagining what the music might sound like with only Jazz Record Requests every Saturday to fill in a few details.

Edited by A Lark Ascending

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't know the Larkin one.

Another one I quite enjoyed was (1993 I think):

7a92619009a0469fb8595110.L.jpg

Very much a coffee table book - not comprehensive, a bit Dorling-Kindersley in approach. But it has a good section recommending albums in various genres with colour cover reproductions. I ended up hunting down a fair few.

Though my Bible in those early days was Joachim Berendt's 'The Jazz Book'. Bought in early 1977. I was marooned in Cornwall on teaching practice with no record collection - spent three months reading it and imagining what the music might sound like with only Jazz Record Requests every Saturday to fill in a few details.

I agree with you about that John Fordham book. Bought it in the mid-90s in London and haven't regretted it, especially since its price was surpruisingly low. In the same (coffee-table and good period photo/record cover ilustration coverage) vein and roughly at the same time I also bought "A Century of Jazz" by Roy Carr and "The World of Jazz" by Jim Godbolt as IMHO they also offered a huge lot (on the periods of jazz I am most interested in) for their price tag - and still do.

I must have seen the Stan Britt/Brian Case book (as well as the Virgin Encyclopedia of Jazz) at around the same time too and really cannot recall why I did not pick those up.

As I already owned the Keepnews/Grauer Pictorial History of Jazz, Leonard Feather's Encyclopedia of Jazz, "Black Beauty White Heat" and a host of others (including jazz encyclopedias with biographical info), including several editions of J.E. Berendt's Jazz Book, maybe they did not seem to offer enough ESSENTIAL information on the c. pre-1965 period of jazz I was most interested in to warrant the (relatively higher) purchase price.

Maybe I was wrong, but I guess in the present internet days that could be remedied even for OOP items if I'd wanted to.

BTW, does anybody know if those "Third Ear" Listening Companions (jazz record guides) published by Miller Freeman Books in the 90s ever progressed beyond the "Swing" and "Bebop" tomes into more modern jazz styles except for the "Afro-Cuban Jazz" volume? A "forthcoming" West Coast jazz book was mentioned here and there but otherwise no trace of it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From the product description:

"The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings" is firmly established as the world's leading guide to recorded jazz, a mine of fascinating information and a source of insightful - often wittily trenchant - criticism. This is something rather different: Brian Morton (who taught American history at UEA) has picked out the 1000 best recordings that all jazz fans should have and shows how they tell the history of the music and with it the history of the twentieth century. He has completely revised his and Richard Cook's entries and reassessed each artist's entry for this book. The result is an endlessly browsable companion that will prove required reading for aficionados and jazz novices alike. 'It's the kind of book that you'll yank off the shelf to look up a quick fact and still be reading two hours later' - "Fortune". 'Part jazz history, part jazz Karma Sutra with Cook and Morton as the knowledgeable, urbane, wise and witty guides ...This is one of the great books of recorded jazz; the other guides don't come close' - "Irish Times".

This might be a book with focus on the Crown and 4 star recordings from the previous guides, and some more text on the different selected albums?

Edited by jostber

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very much a product of its times - a section on jazz dance, reflecting the whole Acid Jazz craze in the UK. Must have come out around the time that Courtney Pine, Andy Sheppard etc were nudging wider awareness. Didn't last.

Though my Bible in those early days was Joachim Berendt's 'The Jazz Book'.

Yes, the Berendt was my first real guide too (should re-read it sometime). Bought it a bit later and helped me navigate through that period of "The Jazz Revival"/Acid Jazz in the 80s (Steve Williamson, whatever happened to?). Thankfully it sent me towards Mingus and Ornette in the local library....and the rest as they say....

I, too, still refer to the early editions of Morton/Cook but agree that the recent editions have seemed increasingly redundant (and unpurchased). I can see how this new edition might be a godsend for someone starting their discovery of Jazz.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Berendt was bought by me back in 1977 too ! At around that time I also got that 'Modern Jazz - The Essential Records' paperback by Max Harrison, Alun Morgan et al. That was my favourite of that era. All good recommendations in that one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A shame, I was really looking forward to a new edition but I feared there would not be one after Cook's passing ... it appears that I'm right.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From the product description:

Brian Morton (who taught American history at UEA) has picked out the 1000 best recordings that all jazz fans should have.

It's a defective model, and the idea of 'owning' the recordings seems very dated. So will it appeal to a 'beginner'? Maybe only to the older and established collector as a point of reference.

The Penguin Guide as was reflected older tastes, and personally I distrust the aspects of 'collecting' and of a stabilised history on a large scale, in which the bit-players (who originated little or nothing) loom much larger than they ought.

Touted as a guide to jazz for the iTunes generation, this book is still said to focus on albums. Hm.

Edited by David Ayers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

At around that time I also got that 'Modern Jazz - The Essential Records' paperback by Max Harrison, Alun Morgan et al. That was my favourite of that era. All good recommendations in that one.

A favourite of mine too. Good sound choices that have stood the test of time. The 2000 update is good too but I find I rarely refer to it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Penguin Guide as was reflected older tastes, and personally I distrust the aspects of 'collecting' and of a stabilised history on a large scale, in which the bit-players (who originated little or nothing) loom much larger than they ought.

Easy on the "bit players"! I love the J R Monteroses, the Don Sleets and the Stan Hasselgards! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Touted as a guide to jazz for the iTunes generation, this book is still said to focus on albums. Hm.

I somehow doubt that there is an 'iTunes generation' any more than there was a 'gatefold LP sleeve generation' that I was part of.

I suspect most of us were exceptions rather than the rule in our listening interests in our respective youths. And regardless of what piqued our interest then, we've gone off down paths far distant from what was served up as the main course in those youths.

The kid half-listening to his iPod doesn't mean there aren't some who want to explore a bit deeper today and who might want to hear the music as it was originally presented. I know at least one!

This new Penguin might give them a sense of the general history and urge them onwards.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This new Penguin might give them a sense of the general history and urge them onwards.

emperor_penguin_ralf_ste_01.jpg

ONWARD!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

309labour1.jpg

Onward - to the utopia of Cecil Taylor and Anthony Braxton!

demmings.jpg

Onward to jazz nirvana!

Edited by A Lark Ascending

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well you guys know how I think by now so I won't go on. To my mind, a list of albums is no more a history than a list of kings and queens. For us collectors and enthusiasts, it's fine, but for the rest of the world hardly essential.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The earlier Penguin guides were great and were particularly knowledgeable about European jazz. Later editions have been sloppily edited, full of reviews that are either misleading or just rehashes of the liner notes, included a review of a fictitious Anthony Braxton recording and had some irrational swipes at Woody Shaw and Bobby Timmons, among others.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A fictitious Braxton record??!!! :o

...they probably needed to make one up, as there are so few Braxton records! :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Are you referring to The Braxton Quartet Plays Braxton "on" Music & Arts? Because I have yet to find evidence of this one's existence.

Another problem I have with the last edition is the inclusion of so many records that are so ridiculously out of print that it's just frustrating to read about how great and essential they are (The Baptised Traveller for instance).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This looks at first sight like the Penguin Guide recycled into one these "1000 things you must do/see/eat before you die" books. But for only 1000 entries, 768 pages (if Amazon is correct) is quite a lot, given that in the Penguin Guide, albums had a paragraph at the most.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Are you referring to The Braxton Quartet Plays Braxton "on" Music & Arts? Because I have yet to find evidence of this one's existence.

Included in the review of the Delmark quartet disc with Kevin Uehlinger on piano is another CD allegedly featuring the same quartet (Four Compositions (GTM) 2000). Penguin reviews it as if they had actually listened to it when in fact there is no such album. The CD has the same catalogue number as the "comedy" duet album on CIMP. AMG mistakenly lists the same line-up on that CD, so the inference is one of the guides is borrowing from the other.

The Braxton Quartet Plays... is CD-835, which is called Anthony Braxton Quartet Twelve Compositions on the cover, Oakland July 1993 on the spine and Braxton Quartet Plays 12 Braxton Compositions in the Music & Arts catalogue. It does exist and it's a nice one with Crispell, Dresser and Hemingway despite the muffled sound.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another problem I have with the last edition is the inclusion of so many records that are so ridiculously out of print that it's just frustrating to read about how great and essential they are (The Baptised Traveller for instance).

Strange that. One of the common criticisms of Penguin used to be the way it limited itself to albums that were currently in print or easily available in the UK.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another problem I have with the last edition is the inclusion of so many records that are so ridiculously out of print that it's just frustrating to read about how great and essential they are (The Baptised Traveller for instance).

Strange that. One of the common criticisms of Penguin used to be the way it limited itself to albums that were currently in print or easily available in the UK.

Srange indeed. I'd even go so far as to say that ANY record buying guide that limits itself strictly to what is EASILY and off the (internet or real) shelf available everywhere at the time of going to press while items that by ANY yardstick are part of the "major opus" of an artist are omitted just because they happen to be OOP is SERIOUSLY flawed and rather worthless IMHO.

Why?

Firstly, this way of doing things is bound to be obsolete in more than one detail by the time the printed book hits the bookstalls because items are being deleted all the time.

Secondly, because you cannot build a real appreciation of any artist's music on what is MOMENTARILY available (if what is momentarily available is full of gaps) and I do assume that ANY seasoned collector will not be deterred THAT easily by keywords such as "Deleted" or "OOP" - least of all in this digital and internet age.

I'd understand all those moans and groans about this or that being OOP if it was an item that has NEVER been reissued for the past 40 or 50 or more years but if it's been around in any guise in the past 20 to 25 years then all this only ought to spur any collector into action. Sure that means work and sometimes long-winded searching but isn't this what motivates the collector no end? ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.