Reviewed by Bob Patterson
There have been many good reference books on the history of the jazz guitar. "The History of the Guitar in Jazz" by Norman Mongam is one standout. But the latest edition from Ashley Mark, the leading music book publisher in the UK, is head and shoulders above the rest.
The 4th and latest edition of The Jazz Guitar: Its History and Players by Maurice Summerfield is easily the most complete look at those who play this instrument. The new edition has all the information that the well-known 3rd edition had along with an expanded section on the evolution of the guitar in jazz. There is a reprint of a rare article written by Charlie Christian, wonderful sheet music and album covers that add a charming personal touch to the textual material presented, and a new section on the guitars themselves (also with lots of great photos).
But the lion's share of the book, the aspect of the book that makes it indispensable, is the exhaustive biographical section on the players. More than 300 players are cited here, with a photo, bio text and a list of recordings and written materials per entry. Some major players like Wes Montgomery and Joe Pass have several pages each. And their listed recordings are complete to a fault.
Trust me. If you've heard of a player, there's a good chance that they're in this book. The greats, near-greats, local heroes and unknown soldiers of the jazz guitar are all represented here. Summerfield even found a blank page upon which to fit a few remarks about a guitar-playing website guy that I know (!)...
This is a monumental work of research and an invaluable source for anyone who wants to know about the players and history of the jazz guitar. Do yourself a huge favor and buy this book today.