One of several worthy guides to recorded jazz, the All Music Guide (AMG) has had a spotty history. The first edition (1994) was chock-full of misspellings and marred by an uneven presentation. Under different editors, though, subsequent editions were improved a hundredfold, and this fourth edition continues the upswing. The format has remained basically the same, with a list of style definitions (e.g., acid jazz, bop, jive, R&B, and vocal jazz) preceding 1700 alphabetically arranged artist biographies. Here, editors Bogdanov, Chris Woodstra, and Stephen Thomas Erlewine (all associated with AMG), along with jazz critic Scott Yanow, have done good work, adding many more lesser-known musicians and increasing the accuracy of the portraits overall. Following these portraits are the usual discographies (more than 20,000 total, up 2000 from the third edition) rated by diamonds, with five being the highest, in addition to stars and circles denoting essential and first-purchase recordings, respectively. In a separate section at the end, numerous essays explore topics such as jazz styles and jazz overseas in Italy, Turkey, and Germany, among other countries. "Music Maps" interspersed throughout trace the development of important instruments, genres, and players (e.g., the trumpet and violin, avant-garde/ free jazz players); they certainly enhance the text and suggest other places to search for information. For all its improvements, however, this AMG still contains some of the flaws of its predecessors. Numerous misspellings, the often unusual (even erroneous) assignment of genres to the musicians, and other editorial head-scratchers will annoy anyone with a good grasp of jazz. The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD (now in its fifth edition) still reigns supreme. Buy where demand warrants.-William G. Kenz, Minnesota State Univ., Moorhead Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.