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Striders to Beboppers and Beyond: The Art of Jazz Piano by Leslie Gourse

Leslie Gourse is rapidly becoming the most prolific writer of jazz books. These two are in a series designed for young adults. Well produced, with a good choice of photographs, they should prove attractive invitations to their subjects. The main creative thrust of jazz piano is well outlined, although the author acknowledges that many more pianists might have been included, presumably if space were available. The omission of Jess Stacy, Joe Sullivan, Dick Hyman, Ralph Sutton and Dick Wellstood understates the important role of white artists.

The art of jazz singing is not so well illustrated by some of the “crooners” in the second book, especially since singers like Helen Humes, Jack Teagarden, Lips Page, Jay McShann, George Thomas and Trummy Young don’t get any attention at all. Certainly, there is more of a problem here, and most of the latterday names young people are likely to be familiar with-thanks to the promotions-are included.

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