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CriticasA Cuban American professor of sociology at the University of California at Irvine, Fernandez presents readers with a visually breathtaking and highly informative journey through the history of this hybrid musical genre, from its roots in New Orleans and Havana up to its present-day innovators. The art-book-size bilingual volume features two prefaces, one by renowned bassist Andy Gonz lez and another by Yale African culture professor Robert Farris Thompson, and an afterword by drummer Al MicKibbon. With more than 100 rare photos and album cover reproductions, it conveys all the vibrancy and style of the Latin jazz tradition, which makes it a fitting companion to Chronicle's 1999 Musica by music critic Sue Steward. Fernandez's scholarship is a little stronger than Steward's, though, particularly in the first half of the book, which covers the roots and early peak of the genre in the 1940s and 1950s. The second half, which meanders around the concept of drumming in Latin music (detouring through such periods as beatnik-era San Francisco) and concludes with a sketchy description of contemporary Latin jazz, is less satisfying. Still, the book does an excellent job of explaining difficult musical concepts drawn largely from anecdotal historical sources, and isn't afraid to include popular music like salsa and Santana's acid rock in the general framework of Latin jazz. Recommended for general and music libraries.
—Ed Morales, Brooklyn, NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.