Music criticism is not always the most fun reading material. But not in the hands of Will Friedwald, who passionately and entertainingly chronicles some 300 artists — the masters of jazz and popular music — in his new book, “A Biographical Guide to the Great Jazz and Pop Singers.”

“The idea was to talk about the singers who have done the American Songbook and place them on a level playing field. I didn’t want to make divisions between so-called jazz singers and pop singers and Broadway singers,” Friedwald says about bringing together various genres.

But the biographical histories of these iconic American musicians are not limited to those of the past. Artists like Jamie Cullum, Michael Buble and Harry Connick Jr. represent the newer side of the spectrum.

“Music is going in all kinds of directions,” Friedwald says. “There’s a lot of great contemporary people out there.”

Friedwald also includes an extended section in the book containing short biographies of greats from other genres such as rock ’n’ roll, blues, gospel, country and folk rock. “One of the conclusions I came away with was that Elvis was more of a traditional pop singer than you might think. Obviously, he was the king of rock ’n’ roll, but he was the last one in the continuity of Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra.”

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