A couple of gigs to bookend Christmas, and a fine new reference book to digest along with the turkey - that's the plan this week.
First the gigs.
What better way to start the festivities than with a trip to the Bearwood Corks Club tomorrow evening for Andy Hamilton's Christmas Party?
Joining the veteran saxophonist is his old friend Dutch Lewis, multi-instrumentalist and all-round party person, doors open at 8.30pm, admission is a mere £4 and you can find more info on geocities.com/jazzthebear
After all the indulgence of the weekend, refreshment and rejuvenation is guaranteed by the Fat Chops! Big Band. They play Tasco's Club in Hazelwell Lane, Stirchley from 12.30pm on Tuesday, December 27.
Guest vocalist is Matt Ford, and you can find out more by calling 01675 442050 or check on myjo.co.uk
And so to the book . . .
Richard Cook is well known as the biographer of a record label, Blue Note, as well as co-author of that brick of a book, the Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD.
Now he has turned his encyclopaedic knowledge of the music to just that: an encyclopedia.
Richard Cook's Jazz Encyclopedia (Penguin, £30) is not at all daunting in a Britannica way - it's a single volume of 687 pages, clearly laid out in ragged right double columns with elegant entry names in large, grey-tint type.
Each entry is concise and the writing style is, as we have come to expect from the CD guide, elegant and to the point. Also, as in the CD guide, Cook has no hesitation in adding a little spice of subjectivity.
He avoids the dull straight biog, yet gives you what details of each musician's life you need to know. He also adds a single CD reference to each musician's entry - not necessarily their finest or best known, but a disc which sums up their music.
Although these musician entries form most of the book, there are entries, too, for words used in jazz - the styles, the record companies, the technical terms.
Cook says in his introduction that he hopes to raise the occasional smile as well as enlighten us.
So, try this explanation of A&R Men: "While rock A&R (Artist & Repertoire) men are seen as a cool breed of instinctive talent spotters, geniuses at finding and nurturing new blood, their jazz equivalents are generally despised as agents of misfortune who seek to smother and commercialise a jazz musician's ambitions" and concludes "There is virtually no female equivalent of the species".
Just as the prose has that deadpan humour common in British jazz, so the bias is marginally in favour of these islands. British musicians who might be too obscure if they were from any other country are included - still that's no disadvantage for us.
Of course, we'll all have our own little gripe - a favourite left out or given short shrift - but try as I might I couldn't fault Cook's assessments and sense of balance.
There are some terrific pictures in the two small sets of plates and you can judge this book by the cover which plays with a classic Joe Henderson Blue Note album sleeve in a witty way.
Jazz diary returns on January 4. A very jazzy Christmas and New Year to you all.
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