Re-released this month from TASCHEN is Robert Nippoldt and Hans-Jürgen Schaal’s hardback collection of biographies, facts and anecdotes from the earlest days of the Jazz revolution, Jazz: New York in the Roaring Twenties. Told through a series of portraits by Nippoldt (drawn in a similar style to R. Crumb’s Heroes of Blues, Jazz and Country and William Stout’s Legends of the Blues) and with text from Schaal, it does an effective job in setting the scene of this hugely exciting period in music. With fascinating insights into the personalities of its infamous performers (a good example being Fats Waller’s notorious breakfast menu of ‘Liquid Ham and Eggs’) and additional items such as the map of Manhattan’s famous nightclubs and dance halls, plus details of the early recording processes used in capturing these classic performances, adds further value for anyone interested in Jazz music or the decadent 1920s.

Although this book may not share the illustrative flair of Crumb and Stout’s work (my criticisms being mainly technical – a note on this later), it remains an enjoyable trip through musical history that comes with its own choice selection of tracks on the enclosed CD, including the first ever Jazz recording ‘Livery Stable Blues’ plus additional tracks from Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington; making this another book worthy of any Jazz fan’s collection.

– And a note on the illustration, and excuse me for being an illustration geek for a moment, but it does seem to suffer from what appears to be severe vector auto-tracing. My guess would be that the original illustrations were quite small and a vector conversion process has been employed to compensate for the book’s large size, but it does have the effect of killing the artwork at times, and I wonder if it would have been better to leave the work in its original hand-drawn state. The casual reader will almost certainly not notice any of this, but as someone who’s had to create vectors out of my own line-work (and not much enjoyed the results) I feel that it’s a shame to see it used here.

Jazz New York in the Roaring Twenties by Robert Nippoldt and Hans-Jürgen Schaal
Harback 144 pages with CD
34 x 2.7 x 21.6 cm