88: The Giants of Jazz Piano
The Giants of Jazz Piano

by Robert L. Doerschuk

Review by laciefae

Some very wise (and well known historical figure whom I am currently at a complete loss to remember) once said “writing about art is like dancing about architecture.” I am often in complete agreement with this anonymous sage, especially when it comes to writing about music. It can be excruciatingly difficult to capture the subtle complexities of a performance style in words, even for the finest of wordsmiths, but not so for Robert L. Doerschuk. His wonderful collection of essays 88: The Giants of Jazz Piano is an absolute necessity for the library of any serious jazz fan. No doubt the author’s ability to convey the genius of Bill Evans’ style with such astounding and delightful skill stems from the fact that Mr. Doerschuk is a professional jazz pianist himself as well as a journalist - a most fortuitous combination for his readers. He delves with equal skill into the unique personality and performance characteristics of each pianist portrayed here.

Mr. Doerschuk has taken on a monumental task in this project, ultimately with resounding success. The 88 visionaries chosen for this book range from jazz pioneer Jelly Roll Morton to the leading contemporary pianists. While a number of the artists portrayed in this volume are covered in a brief few pages, none of the essentials are passed over, and the longer essays given to Bill Evans, Cecil Taylor, Earl Hines, Art Tatum, Jelly Roll Morton, Keith Jarrett, Thelonious Monk and others are some of the best writing on jazz I have ever had the pleasure to encounter. The styles covered are the very range of jazz itself, from stride to swing, bebop to funk, sophisticated, avant garde and much, much more. Also included is a bonus CD from Hank O'Neal's Chiaroscuro Records which provides 11 great tracks to whet the appetite. With 100 photos and a foreword by Keith Jarrett, this book will delight and inform anyone interested in the medium - run, don't walk to your nearest bookseller and enjoy this wonderful collection!

Copyright 2002 by laciefae/Waiting-forthe-Sun.net