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If you haven't encountered the MusicHound series before, then take a trip to your local book store and cop a look. Published by Visible Ink Press, the series now boasts album guides for Rock, Blue, Jazz, Country, Lounge, and now Swing. MusicHound Swing, edited by Steve Knopper, is a 461-page book focused at gaining some of the crowd that supports the currently-popular groups Royal Crown Revue and Cherry Poppin' Daddies (a member of each group, in fact, provides a foreword for the book). But really, there's much to be enjoyed here if you're young or old. To give you an example of the range of artists covered, you'll find such diverse names as Joe Jackson, Spade Cooley, Eddie Condon, The New Morty Show, Bob Eberly, Big Dave & the Ultrasonics, Jimmy Yancey, and Rudy Vallee, to name just a few. Of course, there's much in the way of jazz here and you'll find Ellington and Basie alongside more obscure names such as Claude Hopkins and Chick Webb.
Each artist entry includes a biography and then tips on albums to buy, what to avoid, and influences. Each listed album is rated on a scale from zero to five bones (MusicHound- get it?) with five being the best. The diversity of contributors, like in the other books in the series, really offers the opportunity for specialists to discuss work that they are intensely familiar with. So if Swing is your groove or you're interested in jazz from that era, you'll find much about this book to be very appealing. It's a success on many counts and a curious read as well, sending you to discover the music of some of the artists you might have never heard of before!
I was first exposed to jazz as a middle school band student. A college ensemble passed through and put on a concert for the band students (of which I was one). The level of mastery and musicianship blew me away, intimidated, and inspired me
I was first exposed to jazz as a middle school band student. A college ensemble passed through and put on a concert for the band students (of which I was one). The level of mastery and musicianship blew me away, intimidated, and inspired me. Try as I might, I was never able to achieve a high enough level of competency to perform at the level I was first and subsequently exposed to. Regardless, I was hooked on jazz and remain so to this day.