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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Top 10 Essential Jazz Albums

This is an article by Eric Yang that appeared in Gear Patrol on Wed, Apr 22, 2009. I am not seriously into jazz but I found the article quite interesting, as i do have some of the albums mentioned in that article. Anyway, I believe the albums listed in the article are very good and I shall be looking forward to get them and have some serious listening. You can actually read the entire full article here. Those in quotes are my comments/views.

Top 10 Essential Jazz Albums
Upgrade Your Jazz Music With These Essentials
By Eric Yang

Actually, if you want to argue semantics, maybe we should call this a cooperative list of individual Top 5s. We leave that choice up to you. Either way, what follows is a list of 10 albums selected by Gear Patrol crew members Jason Heaton and Eric Yang as essential albums in your current or about-to-be-started jazz album collection. After all, any man’s music collection deserves a few, if not many, jazz classics. Maybe you already have a few scattered songs here or there in your collection, but isn’t it about time you go full monty? Here are our suggestions on some classic (and unique) essentials to build upon.

Selections from Jason Heaton:

Kind of Blue by Miles Davis
Possibly the greatest jazz album ever. From the first note, this album started a whole new genre of jazz in the 1950s and confirmed Miles’s place as one of the great musical innovators. This is the album you play on vinyl. Make sure the lights are low.

..."I have this album and it surely is great listening to though it is not my favourite jazz album. It is definitely high up there and worthy of being in the Top 3"...

Live at Blues Alley by Wynton Marsalis
Jazz is music meant to be heard live. This album is the next best thing. This was Marsalis in his younger days, ripping through standards at a crowded club. You’ll work up a sweat just listening to it.

..."I don't have this album and have never heard any of its tracks, so i can't comment much on it. For sure, anything by WM is worth listening to. Deserves to be in the Top Ten, perhaps"...

Time Out by Dave Brubeck Quartet
Brubeck was a master of mood and this is him at his best. “Take Five” is the recognizable track on this album. Even people who don’t know jazz know this one.

..."Oh yes, I definitely agree... I knew Take Five way before I even heard the word jazz. I have this album, and I listen to it a lot. I love this album. Definite Top Ten."...

Winelight by Grover Washington Jr.
OK, purists, let’s be upfront, this is jazz fusion. But this ain’t no Kenny G. It’s smoky, early ’80s smooth and Grover played a mean saxophone. He got some help from Bill Withers on “Just the Two of Us” and won a Grammy.

..."This is my all-time #1 jazz album. It actually got me started into jazz way back in the early 80s. In fact, i still have that very same vinyl that I bought back then. Jazz is jazz, doesn't matter whether it's fusion, purists or what nots. Definite Top 3"...

Still Life (Talking) by Pat Metheny Group
Another fusion album, but this one has all the elements of great jazz - jamming improvisation, long solos, and great musicians. Metheny was a masterful guitarist. The track “Last Train Home” evokes a mood like no other song. Listen to it and you’ll agree.

..."I do not have this particular album but I love this guy. Surely, I must get this album soon. Worthy Top Ten, no question about it."...

Selections from Eric Yang:

Beyond The Missouri Sky by Charlie Haden & Pat Metheny
Repeat on Pat Metheny… “Beyond The Missouri Sky” will pull at the musical heartstrings of you men who clamor for a slower pace of life. Pair this one with your favorite brew on the patio and you’ve got something commonly referred to as bliss.

..."I have this album though it has been a while since I last heard it. On his own, Haden is actually very good but throw Metheny into it, it becomes magical. Definite Top 5"...

Somethin’ Else by Cannonball Adderly
Read the album cover. Cannonball Adderly’s quartet included Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Hank Jones, and Sam Jones. Wow. Sure, they come from different schools of jazz, but, in unison, lay down some incredible tracks. “Somethin’ Else” should be one of your first stops, even if you’re told otherwise.

..."With those master jazzmen in there, this must be a splendid album. Have not heard anything on this album although the names on the cover surely justifies its position in the Top Ten. Can't argue there."...

The Köln Concert by Keith Jarrett
Anyone who knows jazz knows that piano is one of the essential keystone instruments. Keith Jarrett has a following larger than the European Union and it all started with “The Köln Concert”. An absolute 88-key marvel.

..."I have this album and a few others, and KJ is my fav jazz pianist. This is definitely a must-have album... like a kit for all pianists. Definite Top 5"...

Empyrean Isles by Herbie Hancock
Sure, it’s known for the album that carried Cantaloupe Island, but damn, if this album doesn’t inspire gimlet martinis and a consideration for cigarettes, I’m not sure what does. Less celebrated than Herbie Hancock’s “Maiden Voyage,” but, to this writer, it’s the superior album.

..."Not too sure what gimlet martini is but definitely sure about consistently quality stuff produced by H. Hancock. I don't have this album and perhaps I will pass on this one. Could be a sleeper though"...

Sunday At the Village Vanguard by Bill Evans Trio
This album is a solid piece for those of you starting out your jazz collections. The choice is admittedly subjective, but unique is always good. It doesn’t take any ramp-up time to listen to the Bill Evans Trio with their accessible jazz style. The entire album can be listened back to front without a moment of hesitation.

..."I have always wanted to get this album and now I know I must have it. BE Trio is always nice to listen to. Definite Top Ten (and gotta hurry to the CD store to get one...MUST)"...

This list will inevitably inspire some argument or suggestions. If you’ve got an addition, change, or otherwise, we want to hear it. Leave a comment and let us know. --- end of article --

...OK, let's see... I am agreeable to all of them except maybe (BIG maybe), one (by HH). Overall, splendid choice of albums and you definitely can't go wrong with this list. And out of 10 albums, I only have 5 of them... must go and get the rest of them now!!! And I must say, this has been a very enlightening and helpful article. Bravo to the writers! Cheers!


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