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The Great Jazz Interviews
A 75th Anniversary Anthology from Downbeat
Edited by Frank Alkyer and Ed Enright
December 2009
Pbk; 330 pages
Price: £16.99

To celebrate the 75th anniversary of Downbeat Magazine, this compilation brings together, in a single volume, interviews and photographs drawn from the annals of arguably the world’s foremost jazz periodical.

Interviews and contributions are included from: Jelly Roll Morton; Louis Armstrong; Count Basie;, Duke Ellington; Benny Goodman; ranging forward to Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins and Miles Davis, and further on to avant garde jazz from the likes of Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, Thelonious Monk, Roland Kirk and numerous other equally formidable giants of jazz.

It is a fascinating and absorbing read. The views expressed are insightful and in many cases, highly surprising. Lenny Tristano’s views on the multi-taping of recorded material are intriguing, while Duke Ellington’s observations on the need for artistes to display recognisable individuality apply as equally today as when he was interviewed, in 1956. Artistes offer a frank and outspoken account of the jazz world of their time, providing their personal observations on some of the very greatest jazz performers.

The interviewers, compilers and editors have provided a splendidly eclectic range of contributions from what is clearly an enormous archive of material. They are to be congratulated on the final result.

This book represents an authentic slice of a jazz history which no jazz artiste, promoter or listener should be without.