October 27, 2012


The Jazz Standards: a Guide to the Repertoire, By Ted Gioia (CLIVE DAVIS, 24 OCTOBER 2012, Independent)

As long ago as the 1980s, when he published that slim, quizzical volume, The Imperfect Art, Gioia stood out as an observer who, as a working pianist himself, possessed a rare insider's authority. A bold attempt to summarise the core repertoire, The Jazz Standards is full of characteristic touches. The witty anecdotes and terse analysis shed light on more than 250 songs, beginning with "After You've Gone" and ending with "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To". Gioia writes about evergreens with the quiet passion of someone who has laboured as a journeyman armed with a so-called "fake book", one of those samizdat-style guides to the melody and chords of classic songs.

He wears his learning lightly, scattering tantalising fragments of autobiography. Those of us who live in his shadow can be forgiven for groaning when we discover that the teenage Gioia learned to play the chromatic harmonica well enough to hold his own on a bandstand. More groans follow when we discover that he once played the bossa nova classic "Desafinado" with Stan Getz. Gioia has paid his dues.

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Posted by at October 27, 2012 10:15 AM

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