The September 27th review of Will’s new book, A BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP SINGERS (Pantheon, November 2nd, hardcover) shares the starred rating of his last, and says:
….[a] passionately opinionated encyclopedia of the old-school virtuosos of the American songbook,
….Friedwald is all about the music; he primly shies away from his subjects’ scandal-prone personal lives, but accords each a substantial career retrospective, selected discography and wonderfully pithy interpretive essay. His tastes are wide-ranging and idiosyncratic.
….However unconventional, his judgments are usually spot-on, as in his compelling reassessment of Elvis as the last great Crosbyesque crooner. Friedwald’s exuberant medley is that rarest of things: music criticism that actually makes you sit up and listen.
….While every reader will have their own list—what better dinner conversation game?—this dozen (chosen in conjunction with Friedwald’s editor, Bob Gottlieb) should contain at least half of everyone’s choices. But this is not a trivia book, and the joy of these short essays—ruminative, but also filled with fascinating historical and social details – is in their intelligence and their always evident love of the music itself.
…he is at his best elucidating how a particular song works its magic.
….an important contribution not only to American musicology but also to the literature on popular culture.