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Old Country Jewish Blues & Ornette

There’s a country music song, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?,” of which I never tire, and it jumped to mind as I was reading an advance copy of Ben Ratliff’s characteristically illuminating new book, The Jazz Ear: Conversations Over Music (Times Books). The publication date is November 11. You may have seen some of them in Ratliff’s “Listening With” series in The New York Times. He not only has a deep, far-ranging knowledge of jazz, but like Count Basie comping his band, Ratliff leaves breathing and feeling space for the musician with whom he’s talking.

He asked 15 musicians for a list of five or six pieces of music he or she would like to listen to with him, among them Wayne Shorter, Sonny Rollins, Paul Motian and Maria Schneider.

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