By John Schu
It is almost inevitable that a knowledgeable person will question the exclusion and inclusion of artists in any list of, for example, jazz singers, even in a list of as many as the top 500 of them. This book provides good, concise bios and CD recommendations for 521 singers, 30 vocal groups and also provides paragraph long sketches for 198 other singers, and there isn´t much to quibble about regarding the choices.
Yanow has a clear and unadorned writing style which is helpful in providing the reader with the most necessary information and little else. The CD recommendations for each artist are mostly very worthwhile.
Yanow has ventured into an area of publishing that is being greatly challenged by Wikipedia. The book shows some of what can be missing online; it is a pleasure to fish around in the book by flipping pages to see what Yanow has for individual singers.
The book also contains a short introduction that contains Yanow´s choices for the thirty most important singers in jazz history and a funny list of ten overdone songs that singers should avoid, which should have been expanded to at least thirty songs. The section “Difficulties For Today´s Jazz Singers” is spot on and would have made for a good article by itself and could be expanded upon.
The Jazz Singers: The Ultimate Guide would be a welcome addition to the research or music section of any good public library.