Jazz Profiles: The Spirit of the Nineties

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Jazz Profiles: The Spirit of the Nineties

The Spirit of the Nineties
Reginald Carver
and Lenny Bernstein
Watson-Guptill
ISBN: 0823083381

Yes, this type of book's been done before, by Ben Sidran, Arthur Taylor and others. But Reginald Carver and Lenny Bernstein's work has some differences: as the subtitle indicates, the focus here is on "prominenet and rising stars of the '90's"; the forty profiles and interviews are brief (4-6 pages); Bernstein has provided not only photos, but commentary on his interaction with each artist. Another refreshing twist - Carver is not a critic, historian or musician. He's a huge fan of the music who happens to be an attorney in Atlanta.

Carver asks brief, down-to-earth, intelligent questions with a minimal agenda. Clearly he's convinced that the '80's and '90's saw a resurgence in the popularity of jazz, asking most of the artists why they think that happened. The few who don't agree provide really interesting responses. So do those who agree that there was increased interest in jazz. By the way, many of the latter credit a controversial artist who was not interviewed.

Jazz Profiles is divided by instrument, including vocals. Die-hard jazz fans will no doubt have the same reaction they did to Ken Burns' Jazz series on PBS. Where's so-and-so. How could he have left out Joe or Jane Jazz? Hey, Carver had to pick forty artists out of hundreds of worthy candidates. By and large I think he made good choices. It might interest you to know that not all the lions and lionesses are twenty or thirty-somethings (among the exceptions are Steve Turre, Bill Frisell, John Scofield and Dee Dee Bridgewater).

The artists' passion, articulateness and respect for their mentors are impressive. There's remarkably little cynicism in their advice to young jazz aspirants. Jazz Profiles is an enjoyable, enlightening, uplifting book for any reader, but an especially good choice for those young musicians.


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