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From Louis Armstrong’s renegade style trumpet playing to Frank Sinatra’s intimate crooning, jazz critic Gary Giddins continually astonishes us with his unparalleled insight. In just a few lines, he captures the essence of Louis Armstrong, “He could telegraph with a growl or a rolling of his eyes his independence, confidence, and security. As the embodiment of jazz, he made jazz the embodiment of the individual.” Giddins maintains, contrary to the opinion of most jazz enthusiasts, that Armstrongs voice was as much an integral part of creating jazz singing as his trumpet was to creating jazz. Perhaps the most remarkable chapters in the book are those that do pay tribute to the great jazz singers. Billie Holiday profoundly impacted music history, and Giddins eloquently honors her “gutted voice, drawled phrasing, and wayworn features.” Many artists, such as Irving Berlin and Rosemary Clooney, have been traditionally dismissed by fans and critics as merely popular derivatives of true jazz. Giddins finally…[more]