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The ideal introduction to the history of jazz and its rich and varied heritageIn The Playboy Guide to Jazz noted jazz critic Neil Tesser has selected from the thousands of available jazz recordings 250 of the best CDs, grouping them into chapters devoted to significant movements and periods of jazz history. The result is a concise and insightful guide to the milestones and markers in the history of recorded jazz.Since the late 1980s, jazz has achieved a hold on Americans unmatched since the 50s, and Playboy has a long history of commitment to jazz, sponsoring the annual Playboy Jazz Festival for the past seventeen years.Going beyond the monotonous cataloguing of other reference guides and to communicating the complexity of jazz music, The Playboy Guide to Jazz explores the improvisations, mutations of style, spontaneous compositions, and multi-layered voices. This up-to-date and inspiring reference will expand the horizons of new and old jazz listeners alike.-- The Playboy logo has become synonymous with jazz, with an ongoing series, "The History of Jazz", in the magazine, and a four-CD anthology of jazz recordings issued to commemorate the magazine's fortieth anniversary.-- One out of every 12 men in the United States who bought jazz CDs last year is a Playboy reader.-- Playboy will promote "The Playboy Guide to Jazz" in the magazine.
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Aside from its role in encouraging and chronicling the sexual revolution, Playboy has been in the vanguard of reviewing jazz. This guide, written by the magazine's Chicago-based jazz critic, Neil Tesser, is a complete, compact handbook for the general public that offers a well-written and informative look at the essential recordings of "America's classical music."
Putting a jazz guide together is an intricate balancing act: what--and whom--do you include or leave out? Tesser has done a great job of presenting the jazz canon of yesterday and today, but he also gives us a credible glimpse into what we'll be listening to in the future. Starting from 1917 and working up to the 1990s, Tesser lists some of the best jazz albums, including Duke Ellington's The Blanton-Webster Years, Miles Davis's Kind of Blue, Ornette Coleman's avant-garde stylings on Free Jazz, the fusion of Weather Report's Mysterious Traveller, and Wynton Marsalis's neoclassic J Mood. Although the book could have benefited from illustrations and lacks specific Latin jazz recommendations, Tesser's compilation is in the groove and up-to-date. --Eugene Holley Jr.
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