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The Playboy Guide to Jazz by Neil Tesser

In Neil Tesser’s excellent new book, The Playboy Guide to Jazz, the veteran jazz writer-the jazz voice at Playboy, and a contributor to these pages and elsewhere-takes on a complex task, and pulls it off dashingly. Here we have a user-friendly reference book serving as a handy tour guide for both the jazz novice and the more committed aficionado, structured around Tesser’s of 50 essential CDs covering the history of jazz, as well as supplemental info on relevant other available titles.

But, beyond its value as a consumer guide, the book also doubles as a concise, well-spoken history lesson, in which Tesser lucidly traces the sweeping landscape of jazz’ evolution, from Jelly Roll Morton to John Scofield, covering a myriad of bases in between. To boot, the book is a good contiguous read, from beginning to end.

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