The Best of Friends John Lee Hooker
Fred Hersch In Amsterdam:Live at the Bimhuis
Casandra Wilson Thunderbird
Manu Katche Neighbourhood
Shemekia Copeland Talking to Strangers
It would help to know what sort of music you enjoy now. What instruments do you enjoy in particular? Both jazz & blues are expansive genres, so much great stuff to enjoy & appreciate. We all could throw out our favorites, but they might not resonate with you. One thing that has helped me appreciate new musical tastes is reading about music history. I think it's often hard to really appreciate different eras' music unless you can place the music in a cultural & historical context, Yeah, it's a often repeated cliche that music is a universal language, but I'm not so sure that's really true. I guess we start listening for what elements of a new musical language are shared with music we're familiar with and expand on that. One really great little book is Robert Palmers "Deep Blues." I can't praise this one enough as fine place to start. As to the music, when it comes to the blues, I think you could make a great argument for starting with the two musical giants that bridged the era of country blues and modern chicago style blues, Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf. I'd suggest one of Chess records remastered collections that cull the best of their respective careers. These guys laid the groundwork for the development of electric blues. BB King is a a great and influential artist, he incorporates some elements of jazz into his music. I really think his "Live at the Regal" is one of the best live albums ever. A really underappreciated but phenominal bluesman is Otis Rush. His "So Many Roads" was recorded live in Tokyo in 1975 and was an incendiary bit of music making. As to Jazz, some of my votes for favs to start with would be Cannonball Adderlys' "Something Else," Cassandra Wilsons' "Blue Light 'Til Dawn," John Hassell's "Fascinoma," Ben Webster's "Soulville," and Charles Lloyd's "Canto." Those are rather disparate artists separated by five decades, but are all are excellent representations of some the many sides of the genre.
Sorry I don't have 5 favorites here's a start!
Luther Allison- Live In Montreux
Buddy Guy- Stone Crazy, Blues Singer, Live The Real Deal
Bloomfield, Cooper, Stills- Super Session
Gary Moore- Blues For Greeny
Ronnie Earl- Blues Virtuoso Live In Europe, Ronnie Earl And Friends
Eric Clapton-From The Cradle, Blues
Robben Ford-Discovering The Blues
Albert King- I'll Play The Blues For You, Born Under A Bad Sign, In Session with SRV
Freddie King- Everything it's all great!
Jimi Hendrix- Blues
Fleetwood Mac- Blues Jam In Chicago,Peter Greens Fleetwood Mac
Howlin Wolf & Clapton- The London Howlin Wolf Sessions
Mike Bloomfield- Live At The Old Waldorf
Koko Taylor- Earth Shaker
T-Bone Walker- Stormy Monday
ZZ Top- One Foot In The Blues
Allman Brothers- The Fillmore Concerts
Roy Buchanan- Sweet Dreams The Anthology
Albert Collins- Truckin
The Paul Butterfield Blues Band S/T
A Tribute To SRV
Must have Box Sets- Muddy Watters Chess, Robert Johnson- The Complete Recordings, Howlin Wolf- Chess, Eric Clapton- Live In The 70's, Elmore James-King Of The Slide Guitar, BB King- King Of The Blues, SRV And Double Trouble
I could go on and on all these artists have many great CD's!
Try to locate a "Borders" or "Barnes & Noble" equipt with auditioning headphones in their CD section. Take these recommended artist list, and head out for several hours of sampling. As "Photon46" mentioned, help us narrow down prefered instruments and music style(s). To many, composition is priority, but as with all music, recording quality varies tremendlessly. A well-engineered/recorded alblum sure increases your HiFi playback experience, and of which, I feel, contributes to much premature component criticism if lacking. Do you have SACD or HDCD?
Here's an idea that I would only suggest on an audiophile site: Buy a program like Limewire ($50 or so) that allows you to download music for free over the net. It's a peer to peer file sharing program. You can listen to tons of music (start with suggestions you get here) and decide what you like. Many people will balk at this idea and call it 'stealing' music but i disagree: The sound quality is so poor (for an audiophile) that it's not tolerable so you're only using the service to make decisions on what to buy. Exploring music this way, in the last 3 months, I've spent more money on cds than i have in the last couple of years. I love it!
Weather Report's Heavy Weather, self titled Weather Report or Mysterious Traveller are all great
Dave Brubeck, Take Five or Bravo Brubeck are superb
Chick Corea The Leprican
It won't be hard to figure out I'm a fan of GRP Recordings.
Dave Grusin has put out some superbly recorded albums.
One would never know some were recorded live...
"Homage to the Duke" (Dave Grusin)
"The Gershwin Connection" (Dave Grusin)
"The Hang" (Don Grusin)
"Belly of the Sun" (Cassandra Wilson)
"The Essential Dave Brubeck" (2 CD "best" of)
IMHO "The Gershwin Connection" is a must have.
As a matter of fact four of the five I consider as must haves.
1. Muddy Waters: Folk Singer
2. Buddy Guy & Junior Wells: Alone & Acoustic
1. Jazz at the Pawn Shop
2. Jessica Williams: Live at Yoshi's
Check out http://www.allmusic.com to read about most of the suggestions mentioned. they have an excellent rating system and you can also sample alot of songs.
The above posts recommend Blues, here are some thoughts on JAZZ...
As a teenager I grew up with Rock, Hard rock, and Progessive Rock.. at age 16 or so I began to wade into the waters of Jazz... my first Jazz records were predictably Jazz-rock fusion, some of which are still my favorites today:
1. Return to Forever - Romantic Warrior
2. Weather Report - Heavy Weather, Black Market, Tale Spinnin
3. Stanley Clarke - School Days, Journey to Love
4. Jean-Luc Ponty - Imaginary Voyage, Enigmatic Oceans
5. Jeff Beck - Wired
And many other similiar titles... John Mclaughlin, Soft Machine, Al Dimeola, etc.
My first REAL Jazz albums purchased at age 17-18 were:
1. Chick Corea - Inner Space (still one of my favorites today)
2. Miles Davis - Water Babies (my first of twenty or so Miles Davis album purchases
3. Buddy Rich - Class of '78 direct-to-disk (I ran out and bought this at age 18 the next day after seeing Buddy Rich and his big band close up in a club in Rochester, NY... really changed my ideas about "who is a good drummer")
4. Oregon - Roots in the Sky (a challenge to my 18 year old sensibilies, became a favorite)
5. George Benson - Breez'in (his best, hands down IMHO)
At this time in college I met a young jazz musician who began teaching me some jazz theory and gave me the following jazz recommendations to get me started (and I'll give these to you)
1. John Coltrane - Blue Trane, A Love Supreme, Ballads, Lush Life
2. Miles Davis - Sketches of Spain, Kind of Blue, In a Silent Way, to start with
3. Dave Brubeck - Time out
4. Cannonball Adderly - Something Else
5. Lee Morgan - the Sidewinder
6. Herbie Handcock - Maiden Voyage
Other names(Jazz standards):
Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon, Art Blakey, Gerry Mulligan, Thelonious Monk, Stan Getz, Duke Ellington, Bill Evans, Charlie Byrd... and many others
Some "advanced concept" Jazz artists:
Keith Jarrett, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra, Cecil Taylor, George Russel, Don Cherry, others...
Or, try ANYTHING on the ECM jazz label.. an instant adventure. I recommend Ralph Towner, John Abercrombie, Terje Rypdal, Eberhard Weber, the earlier Pat Metheny pieces, Egberto Gismonte.
Anyway it's nice to see someone interested getting into jazz.
I would suggest visiting pandora.com. It is a great free internet radio station that does a pretty good of learning your preferences. You can set up multiple channels with different types of music. As you listen, you can rate what you like. The stations will learn your preferences and add more music that fit with what you have rated as liking. Because of pandora.com I have been exposed to so much new music recently. My music purchases have increased dramatically as well. I hope this helps.
If you have XM radio, or willing to get it, the Real Jazz station is a great source. They have a lot of diversity, and on Saturday mornings they have a musician on profiling a jazz great. It often goes into detail about techniques, etc.
They also have regularly daily interviews with both established and up-and-coming musicians.
You could also try something like Charlie Parker's "Au Privave" which is basically Parker doing Gershwin, etc., with a few of his own stuck in. There are plenty of good albums like that by classic artists, and it's a great place to start if you have trouble "getting it".
Go to Telarc Records and sample things, they have both blues and jazz and it is well recorded.
Once you find a few things you like you can go to Amazon and plug a few titles in and they will make recommendations based on what you chose
Give "Kind of Blue" a listen. Miles Davis and the gang are just sweet, sweet, sweet!
Check out the music section of NPR
. They have music broken down into Jazz, Pop, Classical and World. Interesting interviews and samples of the artist's works.
If you feel guilty about using their website for free, they sell the music they feature online which helps support NPR.