Submitted on behalf of Peter Luce
All-Music Guide to Jazz, 2nd Edition
Edited by Michael Erlewine with Vladimir Bogdanov, Chris Woodstra, and Scott Yanow
Miller Freeman Books, 1996
No doubt about it, the "All-Music Guide to Jazz" is a reference that all jazz collectors should have. I am going to resist the temptation to say that if you are a jazz record collector that the AMG is the only reference you will ever need. The fact is that any reference has strengths and weaknesses and the collector often finds himself consulting as many references as are available to address a question at hand. So, having said that, I’ll put it this way, if you are a jazz record collector this guide is indispensable!
The book’s approximately 900 pages contain reviews and ratings of over 13,000 recordings and profiles of over 1,400 musicians. All periods and styles of jazz are included. The Original Dixieland Jazz Band, the first jazz group ever to record (1917), is here along with current recordings of James Carter and Joshua Redman. Listings are alphabetical by musician. Each listing begins with a brief biography and then covers major recording sessions issued under that musician’s leadership. Both vinyl and CD recordings are included which provides a completeness of recording history that is sometimes lacking in other similar guides. The editors avoid the trap of citing specific LP or CD issue numbers. This approach eliminates quick obsolesce of the information and provides the jazz collector with a very useful reference chronology of a musician’s or group’s major recording sessions. This is a tremendous aid in guiding record purchases. In addition to the listings, AMG contains additional reference material such a Brief History of Jazz and 150 Recommended Jazz Books which will be of interest to both beginners and more experienced fans. But, more about the supplemental reference material later.