Experiencing Big Band Jazz: A Listener’s Companion by Jeff Sultanof

Rowman and Littlefield $38
In a series of nearly two dozen books on Experiencing different kinds of music, whether Beethoven or Bowie, this volume clearly has the right author for the job. Sultanof is an experienced composer-arranger who has also edited numerous big-band scores for the educational market. His impressive work here comes over as somewhere between a reference guide and a textbook for the musically unlettered but discerning fan, and incorporates the best of both those worlds.

His wide-ranging taste enables him to cover the music chronologically from James Reese Europe to Kenny Wheeler and Kamasi Washington, in a manner not dissimilar from this periodical's occasional series Across The Tracks. For no fewer than 158 recordings, he gives background information and a quick guide to what the listener is actually hearing, with comments (and timings) that might help one hear better. The selection of artists and individual tracks is for the most part obvious, though Sultanof also makes some quirky choices.

Ellington gets 15 listings, including a couple of surprises, while a few things I'd consider essential by other artists are relegated to the Further Listening section. Inevitably, some of the descriptions are more detailed than others, but this usually reflects the amount of intrinsic interest in the actual chart, whereas the performances (which are all referenced to their availability on the internet) are uniformly excellent. The book has a rather bread-and-butter approach to presentation, with no pictures and slightly unhelpful layout, but this barely detracts from the mass of hard information and stimulating insights.

– Brian Priestley

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website

If you do not change browser settings, you consent to continue. Learn more

I understand

Making The Cut Mpu 300x500px

Subcribe To Jazzwise


Call 0800 137201 to subscribe or click here to email the subscriptions team

Get in touch

Jazzwise Magazine,
St. Judes Church,
Dulwich Road, 
Herne Hill,
London, SE24 0PD.

0208 677 0012

Latest Tweets

Michael Janisch kicks out the jams for new album Worlds Collide - video preview https://t.co/T8CRlKTOHR https://t.co/03a446e5bH
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
RT @vortexjazz: GRAVITON ALBUM LAUNCH Tomorrow, 7.45PM A formidable prog-jazz group led by @McCormackMusic includes @NoemiNuti @joshuablac…
Follow Us - @Jazzwise


© 2016 MA Business & Leisure Ltd registered in England and Wales number 02923699 Registered office: Jesses Farm, Snow Hill, Dinton, Salisbury, SP3 5HN . Designed By SE24 MEDIA