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I just read Ben Ratliff’s excellent critique of “Jazz: The Smithsonian Anthology” at the New York Times. I have disagreed vehemently with Mr. Ratliff on these electronic pages before, but this time he really hit the nail on the head. I have heard rumblings and grumblings about this project from my professors at Rutgers and various jazz scholars who have passed through the Institute of Jazz Studies — the general consensus seemed to be that in an effort to please everyone, the anthology ended up pleasing no one. Just read the piece, though — he astutely enumerates the compilation’s limitations, so there’s no need to repeat his observations here.

I do have one mild quibble with Mr. Ratliff’s assessment, however, which I’ll get into after the jump: Read the rest of this entry »


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