Jazz Bones

jbonesKurt Dietrich, Jazz 'Bones: The World of the Jazz Trombone; Advance Music, 2005. ISBN 3-89221-069-1. 612 pages. 

I admired Kurt Dietrich's Duke's 'Bones (1995), which provided an imaginative and in some ways unique approach to the study of a particular performance tradition: the tradition initiated by Nanton, Tizol and Brown that formed a legacy for the many others who occupied their chairs in Ellington's band. I was struck by the empathy Dietrich had with the players. It is not merely that he admired them - this was not mere adoration: he seemed to be able to read their styles and idioms in terms that derived from the way they were, rather than what he was able to observe from available sources.

The same nuances reside in this admirable and very substantial book which is partly an encyclopaedia of jazz trombonists and partly a commentary on the history of trombone style in the jazz idiom. The material is arranged thematically in more than six hundred pages, with abundant indices that are thorough and consistently helpful. Dietrich is a good writer and the book is testimony to his very considerable knowledge. It is an important reference work and an absorbing read: my copy is strategically placed within arm's reach of my work desk.

--Trevor Herbert