100 JAZZ LEGENDS: BBC Music Magazine Presents. Geoffrey Smith BBC Magazines (2011) London 210 pp – ₤7.99/Aus$13.95
“Who is Geoffrey Smith?”, you may well ask. For non-Britains, he is a US-born individual, a “defrocked jazz musician” living in the UK who does a weekly jazz show on BBC-Radio 3 and writes a column called “Jazz Starters” for BBC Music Magazine, a mainly “classical music” journal. They have published this special undated issue which is a collection of essays taken from his columns that began publication with them in 2001. Going from Cannonball Adderley through to Lester Young, each entry has a brief text, a good photograph, and three suggested CDs for listening purposes – it all looks good. The columns may have been updated since many of the recommended items are quite recent European post-fifty-year-copyright stuff. No matter. The writing is pretty good and Smith’s selections would be hard to argue with. My only disagreement is with the inclusion of Leadbelly (no mention is made of his recordings with Bunk Johnson), but the Europeans early on attached him with “jazz” for lack of a better label back in the day (a separate collection of blues people would be good); Bessie Smith and Jimmy Rushing are more appropriate inclusions. (At least the sainted Robert Johnson is absent for once!) This publication is a nice primer, for it’s not solely focused on US musicians and uses a pretty broad brush, but in a good way. It would be a good, inexpensive way to hip folks you know who are not infected with this music as we are and are curious about our obsession! Or just as an easy, casual browser for you!! V nicely done, y’all!
Pub. Mar 2013 – IAJRC Vol 46, #1: p.84 PETER B. LOWRY