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Jazz: The Smithsonian Anthology

A Lesson on Improvisation

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Miles Davis and John Coltrane are those guys with the Blue albums. Cannoball Adderly — now wasn’t he a famous dare devil? If this sounds like your internal monologue on the subject of Jazz, then we strongly suggest reading Jazz: The Smithsonian Anthology ($100). Like the college course you should have picked over econ, minus the eccentric man in tweed, this combination book and six disc CD anthology provides a solid foundational knowledge of the genre through 111 renowned tracks, each with an accompanying essay. Some critics do chastise the book’s lack of a clear-cut agenda philosophically. Others have dinged its made by committee approach, since the book was developed by an executive group of five scholars with a 47 member advisory panel. In our humble opinion though, it’s still a worthy read for anyone looking to add to the terms “Jazz, The Utah” and “Jeff, DJ Jazzy” in their mental index on the subject. But if you can’t spare a $100, reading our Top 10 Essential Jazz Albums is a good free place to start too.

Buy Now: $100

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