The New York Times Essential Library--Jazz: A Critic's Guide to the 100 Most Important Recordings
Ben Ratliff is a pop and jazz critic at The New York Times , who does not, one presumes, fabricate stories, but who rather writes the sort of book whose type can be slotted into any of a number of areas of intereststelevision shows, fishing lures, electric grills, or silent filmsthat is to say, the book that has become a reflection of our times, codifying, listing, and deciding on the best of the best in easy-scan fashionmake of it what you will, the book of lists. Ratliff is passionate, though his penchant for the word "mentholated" suggests a perplexing print liaison with the Rolling Stones' "Jig-saw Puzzle," and he chooses commendably; Ahmad Jamal's Cross Country Tour: 1958- 1961 gets a well-deserved nod, and the very concept of the stellar live jazz album is suggested, rightfully, to have a more expansive role in jazz's aesthetic legacy than the live albums of any other musical genre. But as for jazz and its future, or even its thirty year past, about eighty-percent of these recordings come from the sixties or earlier. Ratliff lists his choices chronologically, so pity the Wayne Shorter fan prepared to berate, or celebrate, the qualified artistic merits of Highlights from the Plugged Nickel versus In Stockholm 1960 Complete.