Saturday, March 17, 2018

Jazz Flashes Videocast: Will Friedwald's Best Books on Jazz and Classic Pop

Anyone who has read my posts here in Jazz Flashes and in my other blog, The Vintage Bandstand, especially those that deal with vocal jazz, classic pop, and the crooners, is aware of my admiration for the work of New York-based critic Will Friedwald. To me, Mr. Friedwald is an authority on the subjects of classic pop and vocal jazz, and all his books are an absolute pleasure to read because of the depth of his knowledge, the wide variety and scope of information they include, and the incomparable wit of his writing style.

I've been following Mr. Friedwald's work since the 1990s, when I first ran across a copy of his eye-opening study, Jazz Singing, and I've read nearly all his works, from his exploration of twelve of the greatest songs from the Songbook (Stardust Melodies) to the biography of Tony Bennett that he wrote in tandem with the singer (The Good Life) to his volumes on the music of Warner Bros. cartoons to his mammoth (and indispensable) Biographical Guide to the Great Jazz and Pop Singers. Mr. Friedwald is also the author of Sinatra! The Song Is You, which, in my opinion, is by far the best book ever written about the music and the recorded legacy of Frank Sinatra. His latest work, The Great Jazz and Pop Vocal Albums, is yet another necessary addition to the shelves of any serious vocal jazz aficionado. It's a collection of essays on some of the most influential vocal jazz and classic pop albums that will have readers dusting the records off and listening to them under a new, different light. Mr. Friedwald is a very persuasive writer, never afraid to offer his personal opinion on a given LP, artist, or arrangement, and even though we may not always agree with his view on a particular point, more often than not, we'll find ourselves rethinking our own approach to each specific album after reading what he has to say about it.

As a personal tribute to a writer from whom I've learned a great deal and who has been a primary influence when it came to discovering or rediscovering this or that artist or album, I've recently recorded a videocast whose aim is to review briefly my five favorite books by Mr. Friedwald. It's really not my intention to rank them, so I simply talk about them in chronological order of publication, beginning with Jazz Singing and ending with The Great Jazz and Pop Vocal Albums. For anyone willing to understand vocal jazz and classic pop or to gain a deeper knowledge of both subjects, Mr. Friedwald's work is undoubtedly the place to start. I'd like to express my sincerest gratitude to Mr. Friedwald for the marvelous books that he's been producing for many years now, and I hope the video will serve as a fitting introduction to his work for many readers of Jazz Flashes.

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