Book Review: The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, 2nd Edition

By Floyd Levin

The long-awaited Second Edition of the New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, originally scheduled for release last year, has now appeared. In Three impressive hardcover volumes, with almost 3000 pages, the tome updates and doubles the size of the original edition published thirteen years ago. It is, however, priced accordingly - $550.00 compared with $295.00.

The elaborate expanded reference work covers every facet of jazz from Buddy Bolden, the first acknowledged New Orleans cornet "king" and the Crescent City's earliest brass bands, to 1500 biographies covering musicians who came to prominence since the first edition appeared.

The 7750 articles include 2750 new entries representing the collective scholarship of over 300 experts from all parts of the world. They carefully survey and evaluate the careers of performers, producers, composers,arrangers, writers and bands.

While the abundant illustrations are mostly from the noted Frank Driggs collection, scores of photos are credited to additional photographers. Bibliographical and discographical references are also included.

Articles, covering jazz people, places, and things, date back to the earliest forms—New Orleans, Chicago, Kansas City, Dixieland Jazz, Traditional Jazz, Boogie-Woogie, Swing, Bop, and its derivatives. Included are: jazz terms, record labels, instruments, night clubs, films and videos, poetry, societies, festivals, archives, and libraries. Each article is painstakingly researched, and individually signed.

The new edition is again expertly edited under the firm direction of Barry Kernfield, well-known jazz authority and scholar, who also wrote hundred of the articles. His Associate Editors, Gary Kennedy and Howard Rye, additionally contributed a broad range of the biographical material.

The Grove firm claims that this is "the most comprehensive jazz reference work ever published." It would be difficult to entirely refute that elaborate mandate.

Like the first edition, however, there will probably be quibbles from pedantic readers and omissions noted. After the earlier publication, I called to the attention of Editor Barry Kernfield a list of 57 names I felt should have been included. I note that most of them now appear in the new edition including several that Kernfield commissioned me to write.

Since 1988, the initial New Grove Dictionary of Jazz has been a valuable tool occupying a handy place next to my desk for frequent referral. It has now been replaced by the second edition volumes, which, I am sure, will continue to provide substance and accuracy to my text.

The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz
Second edition in three volumes, 2935 pp, illustrated.
ISBN 1-56159-284-6.

From: Grove's Dictionaries, Inc., Box 2244 Williston VT 05495.
Order online from:

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