Yanow, Scott

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Yanow, Scott

PERSONAL: Male. Hobbies and other interests: Collecting and listening to jazz records.

ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc., 88 Post Rd. W., Westport, CT 06881.

CAREER: Jazz historian and writer. Record Review, jazz editor, 1976–84; freelance writer, 1983–.


(Editor, with Michael Erlewine, Vladimir Bogdanov, and Chris Woodstra) All Music Guide to Jazz: The Experts' Guide to the Best Jazz Recordings, Miller Freeman Books (San Francisco, CA), 1998.

Duke Ellington (biography), foreword by Billy Taylor, Friedman/Fairfax (New York, NY), 1999.

The Trumpet Kings: The Players Who Shaped the Sound of Jazz Trumpet, Backbeat Books (San Francisco, CA), 2001.

Jazz on Record: The First Sixty Years, Backbeat Books (San Francisco, CA), 2003.

Jazz on Film: The Complete Story of the Musicians and Music Onscreen, Backbeat Books (San Francisco, CA), 2004.

Jazz: A Regional Exploration, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 2005.

Articles have appeared in numerous periodicals, including Down Beat, Jazz Times, Jazziz, Cadence, Coda, L.A. Jazz Scene, Mississippi Rag, and Jazz Report. Contributor to New Grove Dictionary and Encyclopedia of Jazz. Author of liner notes for more than 100 albums.


Swing, Miller Freeman Books (San Francisco, CA), 2000.

Afro-Cuban Jazz, Miller Freeman Books (San Francisco, CA), 2000.

Bebop, Miller Freeman Books (San Francisco, CA), 2000.

Classic Jazz: The Musicians and Recordings That Shaped Jazz, 1895–1933, Backbeat Books (San Francisco, CA), 2001.

SIDELIGHTS: A jazz lover and historian, Scott Yanow has been writing about jazz since the mid-1970s. In Swing, the author provides profiles on more than 500 musicians, including those from the golden era of swing music in the 1930s and 1940s and those who took part in the swing revival, or "Retro Swing," of the 1990s. Included in the profiles are musicians, composers, arrangers, and vocalist. Yanow also reviews and rates approximately 1,500 recordings, providing a comprehensive discography of the music available. In addition, the book includes a listing of films that feature appearances by various jazz artists. Commenting on Green Man Review Online, Gary Whitehouse noted that "Yanow is a serviceable writer but hardly a great one" and remarked on the author's "clunky syntax." Nevertheless, Whitehouse concluded, "for sheer volume of information about one of the most prolific and influential eras of American popular music, and as a guide to essential recordings, Swing is a worthy addition to any collector's library." Writing in Library Journal, David M. Turkalo noted that even though the author provides little information about such genres as Western swing and cool jazz, "Yano nevertheless offers excellent coverage" of the overall swing style. In addition to calling the book "just plain fun to read," Turkalo deemed it "A refreshingly nonverbose writing style and useful indexing make this a valuable reference."

In Afro-Cuban Jazz Yanow writes about a style of jazz he believes has its genesis, at least symbolically, in a collaboration between Cuban percussionist Chano Pozo and jazz great Dizzy Gillespie. The book includes an overview of the genre and biographies of the most noted Afro-Cuban jazz musicians. He includes a listing of available CDs and notable out-of-print records. Library Journal contributor William G. Kenz felt that the author's "indexing is questionable," but also noted that the book "should prove to be an indispensable resource." He also commented that, "Readers will especially enjoy the author's illuminating and enjoyable conversations with four Afro-Cuban musicians."

Yanow focuses his attention solely on trumpet players in The Trumpet Kings: The Players Who Shaped the Sound of Jazz Trumpet. The book includes 479 biographies of the jazz world's most accomplished trumpet players, among them Chet Baker, King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, and Gillespie. In addition to well-known trumpet players, Yanow writes about twenty-nine musicians who were accomplished on other instruments but also recorded playing the trumpet, such as pianist and songwriter Hoagy Carmichael and band leader Benny Goodman. Writing in Library Journal, Ronald S. Russ noted that Yanow's biographies are so readable that "readers will indeed often forget that they are perusing what boils down to an encyclopedia." In a review in Choice, A. D. Franklin called the book "a unique and valuable reference."

Classic Jazz: The Musicians and Recordings That Shaped Jazz, 1895–1933 includes historical essays about jazz, biographies, album reviews and ratings, and numerous photographs. Yanow explores the earliest roots of jazz and presents its history within a social and cultural context. The biographies of the seminal musicians who established jazz are arranged alphabetically. Yanow also includes a listing of recordings and suggestions for listening. Writing on AllaboutJazz.com, a reviewer noted that "this is the only guide music lovers need to understand how jazz began, and to enjoy great recordings made by the innovative artists who defined the exciting, nascent era known as the Jazz Age." Kenz, writing again in the Library Journal, called the book "an engrossing contribution to jazz literature."

Yanow provides a chronological history of jazz in his book Jazz on Record: The First Sixty Years. In addition to discussing the numerous early musicians and styles that shaped the music, Yano also provides information on lesser-known musicians who he believes have made important contributions to jazz music. Writing in Library Journal, James E. Perone noted that "The book stands pleasantly apart from many similar guides because of his [Yanow's] friendly narrative approach and avoidance of a 'five-star' rating system" Yanow is also the author of Jazz: A Regional Exploration, in which he traces the rise and evolution of jazz from its roots in African and Cajun culture to its spread through New Orleans and into northern cities like St. Louis, Chicago, and New York.



Booklist, January 1, 2001, Mary Ellen Quinn, review of Swing, p. 1000.

Choice, February, 2002, A. D. Franklin, review of The Trumpet Kings: The Players Who Shaped the Sound of Jazz Trumpet, pp. 1058-1059.

Library Journal, August, 2000, David M. Turkalo, review of Swing, p. 92; March 15, 2001, William G. Kenz, review of Afro-Cuban Jazz, p. 74; October 1, 2001, Ronald S. Russ, review of The Trumpet Kings, p. 103; April 1, 2002, William G. Kenz, review of Classic Jazz: The Musicians and Recordings That Shaped Jazz, 1895–1933, p. 96; February 1, 2004, James E. Perone, review of Jazz on Record: The First Sixty Years, p. 92.

New Orleans, July, 1999, Jason Berry, review of All Music Guide to Jazz: The Experts' Guide to the Best Jazz Recordings, p. 28.

Publishers Weekly, December 13, 1999, review of Duke Ellington, p. 46.


AllaboutJazz.com, http://www.allaboutjazz.com/ (June 7, 2002), review of Classic Jazz.

Green Man Review Online, http://www.greenmanreview.com/ (June 7, 2002), Gary Whitehouse, review of Swing.

Jazz Weekly Online, http://www.jazzweekly.com/ (June 7, 2002), Fred Jung, interview with Yanow.

Trombone Page of the World Web site, http://www.trombone-usa.com/ (March 30, 2005), "Scott Yanow."