You think Thelonious Monk Quartet "Live at Monterey" was great; get the Volume II MoFi Sound Labs Gold CD and you'll be in heaven !!!
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Kadlec, here are a couple everyone should have: Dave Brubeck Quartet's "Time Out" and Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue." These are very much classics (60's) and you don't have to have a "jazz ear" to enjoy them. I have a lot of jazz stuff I tried and tried to make myself like, but just don't "get it," yet. These two discs are now in remastered releases (Columbia/Legacy 65122 & 64935) and get a lot of spin time in my player. Good luck, Charlie.
Kadlec, if you live in an area with a good Jazz station or two..,be they public radio or commercial radio,..this may be the best way for you to learn more about what you like. If you stereo system does not include a good tuner...then this might be your best first purchase... If you want to look up my name in the "member look-up" I would be happy to send you an e-mail with names and albums to consider....good luck.
To more people than you could ever imagine, Miles Davis "Kind of Blue" is not only the best jazz album of all time, but THE best album of all time. Start with that. Even after many years, it is still always near the top of my CD pile. Last year(on the 40th anniversary of its release), a local guy here in Philly put out a call for people to submit essays on how "Kind of Blue" either affected you or changed your life(yes, it inspires that kind of fanaticism in some). He is going to issue this collection as a book. Hope they print a coffee table suitable edition... The others I would add as being "must haves" are Sonny Rollins "Soundtrack from the movie, Alfie"(the ultimate sleeper for any die hard jazz fanatic), John Coltrane "Blue Train", and another from Miles "Bitches Brew".
Hi, Kadlec: I have been a serious jazz buff for about 40 years, and used to teach a course in jazz appreciation. There is a laundry list of jazz recordings I could recommend, but before doing that, I want to recommend an excellent textbook on jazz that is used widely: Mark Gridley's book, "Jazz Styles: History and Analysis", published by Prentice-Hall. You should be able to order the book through any college bookstore, and probably Amazon.com as well. The book provides an excellent background on the origins of the music, instrumentation, and describes all of the major styles, beginning with New Orleans (traditional), and going through bop and free jazz. It also covers many of the major stars in jazz, and has a discography of their recorded work. The book is very well written, fun to read, and will give you a great basis for truly understanding and appreciating America's unique musical art form.
Kadlec: In my previous post, I suggested a textbook on jazz that will give you an excellent starting point for appreciating the music. If you want to start building a basic library of recordings, however, here are some of the artists you must include: 1. Louis Armstrong - the recent Columbia boxed set of his "Hot Five" and "Hot Seven" groups contains the seminal music in jazz. 2. Duke Ellington - Duke has a huge recorded legacy, and during his career his work included six quite different styles. Listen to his work from the 1930's, and his great groups of the early 1950's. 3. Count Basie: Kansas City Swing at its best. The Basie bands of the 1930's thru 1950's were a rhythm machine!! 4. Art Tatum: THE swing pianist. His recordings from the latter 1940's and early 1950's will get you started. 5. The fathers of the modern sax: Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young. Their works from the 1930's and 1940's provide the basis for understanding all of the saxophonists who followed in their footsteps. 6. Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie: the most influential artists in developing the style called bebop. 7. Miles Davis: after Louis Armstrong, arguably the most influential musician in jazz. He went through 4 distinct periods in his career: bebop, cool, hard bop, and fusion. He had many great recordings, but the group he led in the latter 1950's (with Cannonball Adderley and John Coltrane) is perhaps the finest in the history of jazz. His great recording, "Kind of Blue", is a must in any jazz library. 8. John Coltrane: a near diety to many older jazz buffs. His work in the late 1950's with Miles Davis is a great starting point, going on through his group of the early 1960's. Start with his recordings "Blue Train", "Giant Steps", and "A Love Supreme" to begin to understand what an enormous figure he was. 9. Jazz pianists: Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, and Keith Jarrett. 10. Last: a few favorites of my own that I think you will like: Art Pepper; Stan Getz; Zoot Sims; McCoy Tyner; Dave Holland and Charlie Haden (bassists who lead their own groups); Clifford Brown (brilliant trumpet player who died very young in the early 1950's); Erroll Garner (great swing pianist); and guitarists Jim Hall, Wes Montgomery, Charlie Byrd, Kenny Burrell, and Bill Frisell. As you start listening to jazz, be open to everything. Some artists, and some styles, may not appeal to you at first, but that's OK. As your understanding of jazz grows, your range of interest will also. I envy you, because there is so much great jazz, from all eras, available today on CD. Enjoy your musical odyssey.
Ok Boys&Gals 6 best(most important) Jazz albums IMHO are; John Coltrane " A love Supreme" Miles Davis "Kind OF Blue" Miles Davis "Sketches of Spain" Cannonball Adderley "Somethin' Else" Dave Bruback "Time Out" Charles Mingus "Ah Um" Please, feel free to ad any other intresting jazz works. Happy Holidays :D
Very impressive posts Sdcampbell! You always come up big time. Definitely wish I had your class available to me during my college years. Just wondering about your impressions of Sonny Rollins, Charles Mingus, and Ornette Coleman. As they were three heavy hitters your list did not include, intentionally or unintentionally? And, what do you think of the "young lions" who have been at the forefront of the jazz renaissance since the mid-90s? I have not given them the time that they probably deserve. But then, I am fixated on deep, dark, brooding jazz from the late 50s to mid 60s.
Hi, Trelja: We usually have similar reactions to each other's posts - you always have good info, and I learn from your comments. We ought to swap a personal E-mail someday and talk about our hobby. In response to your question, I did not deliberately leave out Rollins, Mingus, or Coleman. I have a significant number of recordings by these three, and consider them among the "jazz giants". However, they are not necessarily where I suggest a new listener start. Sonny Rollins has a few great recordings, a larger number of good ones, and too many "so-so" ones for a man with his talent. Among his best are "Saxophone Colossus" and "Way Out West" (recently re-released on JVC XRCD). As for Mingus, one of the first virtuoso bassists, his album titled "Ah Um" is a great starting point. Some of the compositions he wrote that I really enjoy include "Pithecanthropus Erectus" and "Better Get It In Your Soul". Another great album which features Mingus is the live concert at Massey Hall (1953 or 1954) with Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Max Roach. Last, Ornette Coleman, one of the key contributors to the "free" form of jazz. New listeners to jazz, unless they have pretty eclectic tastes, may find some of Coleman's work hard to follow. Coleman is one of the freshest, most innovative composers, who wrote almost every piece on his recorded albums. For those interested in hearing some of Coleman's range of flavors, try these albums: "Free Jazz" (not his best album, but it parallels Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue" in its historical impact), "The Music of Ornette Coleman", "Skies of America" (done with a symphony orchestra), "At the Golden Circle", and two of his more recent works that are among my personal favorites, "Virgin Beauty", and "In All Languages" (which features both his original quartet and Prime Time). In closing this section on Coleman, let me add that I did not discuss the group of musicians grouped under the "2nd Chicago School", which includes groups such as the Art Ensemble of Chicago (one of my favorites), Sun Ra, AACM, and the World Saxophone Quartet. Let me close the loop back to where I started: suggestions for new listeners to jazz. There is an excellent collection which covers most of the important people and styles of jazz, and is affordable -- The Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz (SCCJ). The SCCJ can be purchased directly from the Smithsonian Institute, and is also available through large stores such as Tower (and maybe Amazon.com). So, Kadlec, if I haven't lost you yet, get the book (Jazz Styles), buy the SCCJ, and go from there.
Almost any album reorded by Blue Note through the mid 60s is GREAT. Art Blakey, Jackie McLean, Lee Morgan, Hank Mobley, Dexter Gordon, Freddie Hubbard etc. For the West Coast sound Contemporary recordings oh Shelly Manne, Hampton Hawes, Art Pepper etc. Most recordings on Prestige or Riverside are also great. Earlier recordings by Charlie Parker, Clifford Brown, Fats Navarro, Wardell Grey, Bud Powell are also excellent. From the 70s and 80s recordings on Muse, InnerCity and Steeple Chase are also excellent. Try samplers from OJC(Fantasy) and Blue Note etc to get an idea of what styles suit you best. Most jazz fans are into the Hard Bop sound, defined by the Blue Note recordxings of the 50s throgh the mid 60s.
Sdcampbell, thanks for your information! I almost feel like I am in your class already. Would have been one of my favorites. It is a credit to the school you teach to have a person such as you. One who is not only incredibly adroit at speaking on the topic, but also loves the subject. I agree with all that you have said. I constantly listen to three Sonny Rollins works(and there are many I have come across that have left me unimpressed). Theme from the movie, Alfie(where Michael Caine got his big break) is one of my favorite albums of my collection. Charles Mingus does not play the type of jazz that really sucks me in, but I cannot argue with success. Ornette Coleman's Free Jazz IS hard to follow. And, as you opined, would definitely be a handful for a neophyte. I would welcome an e-mail from you any time you feel like writing to me. [email protected]
Though certainly not in the same genre knowledge wise as Sdcampbell, Trelja or the rest, would I be out of line to suggest something by the Modern Jazz Quartet? "Pyramid", "In a Crowd" and "The Complete Last Concert" are all very good. The latter two are live and the last, in addition to my father's love for Dixieland, are what originally got me interested in Jazz. Oscar Peterson's "Night Train" and almost anything by Bill Evans are also good suggestions. Sdcampbell, like Trelja, I too, would be interested in your take on the current crop of Jazz artists.
Professor Campbell, could you comment on the "liner notes" from the Columbia/Legacy "Kind of Blue" where it mentioned past issues having been "off key" due to incorrect tape speed at recording? (Corrected on this issue to true speed and key.) Does it not make this a "must have" release? How many musicians were driven to insanity trying to play to this mistake? Thanks, Charlie
Here are a few of my faves: 1) Oscar Peterson Trio - West Side Story 2) Bill Evans - At Montreux 3) Herbie Hancock - Maiden Voyage 4) Gil Evans - Out of the Cool 5) Kenny Burrell - Guitar Forms 6) Cannonball Adderly w/ Miles Davis - Somethin' Else 7) Stan Getz/ Charlie Byrd - Jazz Samba 8) Horace Silver - Silver's Blue 9) Ahmad Jamal's Alhambra 10) Thelonious Monk - Brilliant Corners Oh, BTW, no Jazz-lover's collection is complete without Vince Guaraldi Trio - A Charlie Brown Christmas!! Good Luck, listen to as much live Jazz as you can, and Happy Holidays to all!!
Wow, what a great thread. I often wish that more Americans were interested in this truly great form of music, which much of the world loves. Let me make a couple of quick comments in response to other posts 1. Despite being flattered, I am not really a "professor". I have taught at the graduate level for a number of years, but it's my part-time avocation. The interest in jazz started when I was in high school in the late 1950's, listening to by Dave Brubeck recordings that belonged to friends of my parents. The "hit album" that Brubeck is best noted for, "Time Out", is not his best recording, in my opinion. No question that it established the use of different tempos, but it's pretty formulaic in spots. I personally think that Brubeck's best work was in the first half of the 1950's -- check out his Fantasy recording " Jazz At Oberlin", or "Jazz Goes to College" if you want to hear him when his sound was fresh. I also like one of the last albums by his quartet, the "Concert at Carnegie Hall". 2. The liner notes on the recent "Kind of Blue" release (the 4-LP, 45 rpm version) is correct that the original tape recording was slightly off-speed. This caused the pitch of the instruments to be off also. As it happens, I have the new 45-rpm version to compare with several earlier releases, and it does sound better. However, I think that a lot of the improvement in sound quality is mostly due to the new mastering. If you a lover of "Kind of Blue", and have a turntable, it's worth adding the 4-LP version to your collection. 3. The MJQ is certainly a worthy addition to any collection. All four members were fine musicians, particularly John Lewis (piano) and Milt Jackson (vibes). The music of the MJQ is often referred to as "chamber jazz", since it features small groups playing "softer" instruments (often without horns). Chamber jazz and the "cool" jazz of the early 1950's share a number of characteristics, so if you like chamber jazz you should also get acquainted with the West Coast "cool school" first brought to prominence by such artists as Gerry Mulligan, Bud Shank, Chet Baker, and others who were a key part of the "Central Avenue" jazz scene in L.A. Most people tend to think of New York as the hotbed of jazz, but there was a lot of great playing going on in LA from the late 1940's through the 1950's. I know I have not commented on the newer artists of this decade, and I will try to do so -- my wife is hollering that dinner is ready. In closing this note, let me suggest to Kedlac and others that they guy the current edition of "Downbeat" magazine, which has the winners of the "Reader's Poll". It will give you some insights into the best stars on each instrument, plus some of the best jazz recordings of the past year. Good listening to all!
OK, dinner's over and I'll finish the last posting I made. The question was the "young lions", and who do I recommend? Tough one -- truthfully, there aren't very many young players on the scene who fire me up. Many of them have great technical proficiency, but there music lacks "soul". Stanley Crouch once defined jazz as "the sound of surprise", and very little that's being done by young artists has that quality. A quick scan of the Downbeat Reader's Poll in the December edition reveals very few players who haven't been at their craft for some time (many for decades). The "newer" group (on the scene for 10-15 years) that's worthy of mention would include artists such as Wynton Marsalis (tr), Branford Marsalis (sax), Terence Blanchard (tr), Greg Osby (sax), Donald Harrison (sax), Joshua Redman (sax), Kenny Garrett (sax), Brad Mehldau and Gonzalo Rubalcaba (p), Christian McBride (bass), and Mark Whitfield (gtr). I realize that's a pretty short list of "young lions", but the truth is that jazz, in my opinion, isn't very creative right now. It's either bland, or repetitive, or derivative, or all three. A lot of reasons have been offered, but the reason that seems most logical to me is that most young musicians are learning jazz in the conservatories, and not by playing in clubs and being challenged by other musicians (as did jazz musicians for the first to years of the art form). So, in short, I don't have much to offer on jazz from the mid-1990's until now. If anyone has some suggestions for me, I'd really welcome it. Before I close, however, I want to go back to our discussion on Miles Davis and his great groups of the 1950's. Columbia has recently released a boxed set of Miles and John Coltrane's work, "The Complete Columbia Recordings". If your favorite Santa isn't astute enough to buy this set for you, give yourself a gift -- it's great!!
Well, I thought I was done, but I did forget to mention one other fine recording which is ABOUT jazz. In the mid-1950's, Leonard Bernstein (himself a great jazz fan) hosted a show about jazz on the television series "Omnibus" (back in the days when TV was live and actually had real content). Bernstein does a great job illustrating both the musical foundations on which jazz is built, and how the art of improvisation works. I have used this recording many times in my jazz class, and it is always well received. The title, as I recall, is simply "Jazz", and has been released in various formats by Columbia's Special Products division. This tape is definitely worth tracking down if you want an informative and entertaining way to learn about jazz -- it also features Miles Davis and other jazz stars of the 1950's. I apologize for dominating this thread, but I hope I've given you some useful ideas. Jazz is such a wonderful art form, and will give you a lifetime of enjoyment and intellectual growth.
I swear this will be my last post - I have one last suggestion for those wanting to explore jazz. Ken Burns new public 18-hour TV series on jazz will soon be broadcast, and is said to be his best piece of work (not bad for the guy who started his career with "The Civil War"). There is a book to accompany the program, a set of 5 CD's, and a complete set of 24 CD's by featured artists that are also available. There is some controversy in the jazz community about artists he neglected to mention, but that was inevitable. Again, a great gift to suggest to your Santa Claus, or to buy for yourself. Please -- STOP ME BEFORE I POST AGAIN!!
Charlie Brown Christmas -- Good one, Musikdok! Kadlec, you should have that for the holidays. A tasty and original job by Guaraldi. Gifted young pianist Cyrus Chestnut (saw him play with Betty Carter) has a new CD out -- A Charlie Brown Christmas, believe it or not! Saw it the other day but stupidly did not pick it up.
Excellent historical list posted by sdcampbell. Pioneer jazz pianist Art Tatum certainly deserves his place there, but I have to admit his virtuosity awed me but never warmed my heart much. My own pick for piano virtuoso with roots in swing: Earl Hines. ........ Not sure early jazz guitarists Django Reinhardt (stuff with violinist Stephane Grappelli in Quintet of Hot Club of France is good place to start) and Charlie Christian (good stuff with Count Basie and Benny Goodman) have received mention yet. There.
Take in a movie while you're at it ... Robert Altman's _Kansas City_ has the best jazz blowing and cuttin' sequences I've seen in a fictional film. Good flick, too. David Murray, Joshua Redman and Ron Carter were a few of the musicians who recreated the blowing sessions of KC in the 30's for the movie.
Sdcampbell I have to concur with Fpeel. I can already see our section of Jazz 101 is filling up rapidly. Thanks for all that you have offered us in this thread. I for one, have been educated. Also would like to say that this has been one of the most civil, pleasant, enlightening threads that I have seen on this site in a good while. Don't ever hesitate from submitting your opinions. No matter how many times
Like most of the posters here, it's very difficult to rate the "young lions". As mentioned before, they get the technical aspect right but seem to lack emotion. With one notable exception, Joshua Redman. What sets Joshua aside from his contemporaries (besides his Harvard degree) is that he is willing to take chances. Most new jazz artist will pad their debut and sophomore efforts with standards, as a safety net. Joshua came out of the gate with original compositions that are sure to become standards. You can hear his playing mature with each outing. As the years go by, he will be recognized as one of the great ones. As far as great albums go, let me do it this way. The ten year period from 1955-1965 probaly had some of the most profounding work done than almost any other period. I know that will raise a few eyebrows.
OK, I guess no one's going to lynch me for monopolizing this thread, so I'm going to ramble a bit and share some personal thoughts about jazz with you. As I mentioned, I started listening to jazz in high school. I lived in one of the Maryland suburbs outside Washington, DC, which has always had a good music scene (Duke Ellington's home town!!). I started listening to live jazz when I was 15, and my first concert was at the Carter Barron Ampitheater in Rock Creek Park, with a double-bill of Louis Armstrong and the Count Basie Band. Louis played with his group (Trummy Young, Barney Bigard, Thelma Middleton, etc) for about 90 minutes, then the Basie band took over about 90 minutes, and following a short intermission both bands joined and played for about 45 minutes. Jesus, what an introduction to jazz!! After that, I started hanging out at the Showboat Lounge, which was Charlie Byrd's regular gig. I fell in love with what he could do on a guitar -- both jazz and classical (student of Andres Segovia for several years). For a short period I fancied myself being able to play guitar, and took a few group lessons from Byrd (until he tactfully but firmly suggested I find another instrument). I also had a friend who played drums in a local jazz group, and through his contacts I was able to get into some of the almost exclusively black jazz clubs. Man, what talent I heard, and almost all unknown players (Andrew Hill being an exception), most of whom learned jazz in the club scene and could play their ass off. So, my early years of listening to jazz were pretty firmly rooted in Swing-style music, and it's still what I gravitate to when I just want to relax. In the years since, I've made a point of catching sessions and getting the musicians to autograph my LP's. Over the years, I've met and talked briefly with a lot of greats: Chet Baker, Art Pepper, Bud Shank, Johnny Griffin, Earl Hines (he appeared in Seattle shortly before his death), Bill Evans, Art Farmer, all of the members of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Michel Petrucciani, Frank Morgan, Chick Corea, Bobby McFerrin, Sonny Rollins, Frank Wess, Dizzy Gillespie, and many others. I can hardly tell you what a privilege it has been to meet, even briefly, these stellar musicians. Kedlac started this thread by asking for some classic jazz recordings, and I've sort of hedged his question. The following list contains some of my favorite artists and/or recordings: 1. Erroll Garner - Concert By The Sea. I heard Erroll in concert when I was 16. He was completely self-taught, did not read music, and played with such lyricism and bounce. 2. Charlie Byrd - almost all of his recordings on the Riverside label from the early 1960's are great, as is his album "Jazz Samba" with Stan Getz on Verve. Charlie was fortunate in having a great ride with Concord Jazz for the last 15 years of his life, and had many fine recordings on that label. His last CD, done just before his death, was dedicated to Louis Armstrong, and was one of his best recordings. Nice epitaph. 3. Bill Evans: Evans introduced the modal style of play to Miles Davis, and was central to the recording "Kind of Blue". Among my favorite Evans recordings: Undercurrent (with Jim Hall); The Village Vanguard Sessions; Waltz For Debby; and Conversations With Myself. 4. Miles Davis: If I had to pick only one album to take to a desert island, it would be "Kind of Blue". The album was done with no rehearsal, and everything on the album is essentially a "first take". I also like the albums that Miles did in the earlier part of the '50's: Workin'; Cookin'; Steamin'; and Relaxin'. His work with his second great quintet in the early '60's also produced some great work, but I personally prefer his '50's stuff. 5. Art Pepper: my personal favorite alto sax player. Art started his career with the Stan Kenton Orchestra shortly after WWII, and had, in effect, 2 careers: in the 1950's, when he was almost always stoned on heroin or other drugs, and then in the mid-1970's to early 80's before he died. His recordings from the 1950's on the Contemporary label are "must haves" in my opinion: The Art Pepper Quartet (with Miles Davis' rhythm group); Art Pepper Plus Eleven (with orchestra); Intensity; Smack Up; and others. Art spent most of the 1960's in and out of prison for drug-related offenses, and then 3 years in rehab with Synanon. His playing after he re-joined the jazz scene in the mid-1970's was harder, edgier, and filled with a lot of pain. One of my favorite albums of his done during "phase two" is a CD done with Milcho Leviev, called "Shoes of the Fisherman". Art does a ballad on that CD dedicated to his wife Laurie that absolutely brings tears to my eyes. 6. Stan Getz: Another Stan Kenton alumnus, and a great player who was, happily, prolifically recorded. His 1957 album, "At The Opera House", with J.J. Johnson on trombone, is a good introduction to his work. He is probably best known for "Jazz Samba" (with Charlie Byrd), and "Getz/Gilberto", but his work in the late 1960's was a lot closer to his jazz roots. He did some excellent recordings on the Verve label, including "Focus" and "Serenity". His last recording, "People Time" done with Kenny Barron just weeks before he died, is one of the most heart-wrenching pieces of work ever done. 7. Thelonious Monk: all of the following 4 albums deserve a home in a good collection: Monk with John Coltrane; Monk with Sonny Rollins; Brilliant Corners; and Alone in San Francisco. 8. Chick Corea: of all his various recordings, my personal favorites are the recordings he had done with Gary Burton. Sheer poetry. 9. Keith Jarrett: his solo concerts from the 1970's are mesmerizing and dazzling in their virtuosity, but his "Standards" recordings sets a very high mark for the piano jazz trio. And now for some jazz guitarists: 10. Jim Hall: Undercurrent (with Bill Evans); Concierto (with orchestra - rather like Miles Davis' "Sketches of Spain"); Alone Together (with Ron Carter); and Circles (with his trio). 11. Joe Pass: Virtuoso; Blues for Two (with Zoot Sims); and For Django. 12. Wes Montgomery: The Incredible Jazz Guitar of W.M.; Smokin' At The Half Note; and Full House. Finally, in closing for good, a few other artists that I really like, and who don't get the recognition they deserve: David Murray (tenor sax) -- check out his recordings from the 1980's on the Soul Note and Black Saint labels Abdullah Ibrahim (great pianist from South Africa_-- I love his CD called "Water From An Ancient Well" McCoy Tyner (John Coltrane's pianist) -- I really liked the recording he did called "New York Reunion" on the Chesky label Charles Lloyd (tenor sax) - he's done 7 fine albums during the past 9 years, and the two I'd recommend are "Fish Out Of Water" and "The Water Is Wide" Horace Silver (piano) - Horace has many fine recordings back to the mid-1950's. His work on the Blue Note label from this period is uniformly excellent. If I were forced to pick only one of his albums, it would probably be "Songs For My Father" Well, this could go on forever. This ought to be enough to get you started, Kedlac. If others would like to correspond directly with me for further discussions of artists/recordings, please E-mail me at: [email protected] Best regards to all. Scott Campbell
I have been meaning to post here as Jazz is an area of great passion for me, but when I read the posts the "essential" recordings are all listed I think. Anyone not into jazz yet and wanting to get a small collection together ought to take note of the list compiled by Sdcampbell above. These are the cream of the crop and must-haves for any respectable jazz collection. That said, however, many of these may not be the easiest places to start. I feel that for many coming to jazz for the first time, that vocal jazz is easier to approach than purely instrumental (such as Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae and Shirley Horn - but if these are difficult, then Ella Fitzgerald or Diana Krall will do as starting points). But I note that Kadlec has clearly passed that stage being able to get into Monk. I reckon there is some essential stuff by Count Basie on piano and organ in small groups - eg. some fine stuff together with Oscar Peterson and small groups such as the "Kansas City #..." sets, or his album "For The First Time". The swing that is in this jazz is easily enjoyable for a jazz newcomer, but is of an enduring high quality. Similar small group stuff by Duke Ellington is also a good starting point, such as "For Blanton". I concur with the comments concerning Joshua Redman standing out amongst the current boring (comparatively) lot. Charlie Haden, Courtenay Pine and James Carter are at least putting out some interesting stuff too. Another good one for the newcomer is "Jessica's Blues" by Jessica Williams - a difficult album to dislike, regardless of your musical tastes.
Out of all the great artist listed, there is one glaring omission. Ben Webster!! The sonics of his recordings are not the best, but no one phrases like he does. Sometimes when I'm listening to him play, I swear that his sax is going to sing!! His early recordings are good, but his later works seem to drip with emotion. I hate to keep using the term "emotion", but that's what it's all about for me. Please, check out Ben Webster, you won't be sorry.
I could not agree more, Redkiwi. Sometimes I yearn to hear the slow, mournful burn of Ben Webster. Other times I want to hear the power and energy of Clifford Brown. Kadlec is the envious position of discovering the music that we have loved and enjoyed for years. That is why this thread has taken off. Not only are we eager and excited about helping out, we are very envious. It's like a helping a friend put together his/her first "high-end" system. No matter how great a system you may have, you always wish that it were you that was starting to put together a system for the first time. It's fun, exciting, and hopefuly rewarding. Jazz, or any other music is no different. I will never forget the first time I heard, and understood, Miles, Coltrane, Monk, Bud, etc....Kadlec, we know what you are about to experience and we envy you!
Glad someone included Ben Webster in this discussion. I didn't neglect him deliberately - just had to put some limits on my discussion. Ben, of course, was one the great tenor players who were part of the Coleman Hawkins stylistic legacy. Some of the recordings he did for Verve in the 1950's were very good, such as his recording with Gerry Mulligan. There is also a recent re-release of Ben and Art Tatum (Pablo label) as part of JVC's XRCD series. By the 1950's, Ben was playing very few notes, particularly on ballads, and his breathy intonation became a major part of his style. He sure could say a lot with less. That, infact, is one of the characteristics I've noted about a lot of jazz greats -- they seem to distill their style as they grow older, and while they play fewer notes they manage to convey great content and depth of feeling. Clark Terry (trumpet) is one of jazz's "living treasures", and his recent album on Chesky (duets with some 14 great jazz pianists) is a great example of distilled expression. Perhaps one of the traits I find lacking in many of the young jazz musicians is that personal sense of style, of individual voice, that many of the jazz greats had. Louis Armstrong's phrasing, for example, was almost identical to the way he sang; Coltrane's phrasing, particularly during his "sheets of sound" phase, was unmistakable; I can pick out Art Pepper's sound and phrasing in an instant -- and the same with Phil Woods. Until the young players begin to develop a distinct, individual identity, they won't be true jazz artists.
Kiwi made a good point earlier about how lots of these good suggestions may not be that accessible to those just starting out (but also that if you like Monk, you're not starting at the start line). I agree Erroll Garner's Concert by the Sea suggested by Scott is terrific, and very accessible. To me, Ellington is a must. The Great Paris Concert is a very good display of the Duke's compositional gifts (esp. the couple of extended pieces) and has a lot of his great players still in the orchestra. Since it was recorded in '63, it has decent sound so may be more impressive place to start than with his older stuff. ..... Now, might I add that sure, Kind of Blue is a great desert island choice. But I can only read so many mentions of KoB before I think Birth of the Cool (Miles' first collaboration with Gil Evans, recorded about a decade? earlier than KoB) must get its rightful mention as a seminal work. I only have the original LP; how's the remaster sound?
Thanks to Audiogon's redefinition of the threadbank, I stumbled upon this treasure trove! While vacationing last summer in Bordeaux I wandered into a book/music store and heard Didier Lockwood's"Tribute to Stephane Grappelli" playing. WOW! This guy swings!...AND is superbly backed by N. H. Orsted Pedersen (bass) and B. Lagrene (gtr). Well-recorded by SONY-FRANCE, just released in the US on Dreyfus. It won 5 jazz awards in Europe last year......... (As much as I like Grappelli's work, I've always been disappointed by the recorded quality of his efforts: I attended a concert of his (with the Pizzarellis) at the fine-sounding Sanders Theatre at Harvard a few years ago, and asked the sound guy (who had EQ's the room very carefully) why Grappelli's violin sounded so bright and hard. He said it was due to Grappelli's insistence upon using his old favorite mike, with a decidedly bright lower treble, allowing Grappelli to monitor himself despite his hearing loss! So this tribute by Lockwood et al is doubly rewarding in that the upper partials and harmonics of the violin are so well-recorded. It'll REALLY test your upper crossover and tweeter, as well as keep your toe tapping.) Hope you enjoy it. Ernie. (PS Yeah, Charles Lloyd's Water is Wide is great, and getting a lot of airplay in Boston.) Cheers.