Jazz writer Richard Cook died on Saturday August 25th after being diagnosed with cancer earlier this year. The London-born journalist began his career as a contributor to NME during the paper’s early eighties period when it openly embraced music coming from outside of its normal sphere such as Afrobeat, funk, hip-hop and jazz. He later edited the Wire. It was during his curatorship that the magazine began to expand beyond its initial jazz remit and cover other kinds of leftfield music. He was also the founding editor of Jazz Review.
Cook wrote many books on jazz, including Blue Note Records: The Biography and Richard Cook’s Jazz Encyclopedia, but is probably best known for the exhaustive Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (now in its eighth edition) which he co-wrote with Brian Morton. He was one of my favourite music journalists – his writing always had the right balance of information, opinion and humour and was devoid of pretension or grandstanding.