� Plan B | Main | Splits �

October 08, 2003

First Four

Norm Geras asks for the Fifteen Greatest Jazz Albums. These kinds of polls are always lovely. They're always personal so I'll do a personal twist on each of my favorites. It's probably the only thing about these albums you as a true jazz fan haven't heard already.

But let's take small bites first shall we. Here are Four.

Clifford Brown with Strings - Clifford Brown
I had heard Clifford Brown before. It was a Live at Birdland recording on Blue Note Records with Art Blakey of course. (How 'bout a big hand there?) But when I heard this album given my love of American Standards, it just knocked me over. I reserved this album for the time I would fall in love, and so it happened that the woman who would become my wife came by my apartment for the very first time, we slow danced throught the entire album. If you are in love, or want to be, I guarantee you this album can be a secret weapon.

Thelonius Monk & John Coltrane
have only recorded one album together. It was one of the first jazz albums I ever got and was my introduction to Monk. Functional, is one of the greatest songs Monk has ever done and my favorite cut on the album although it's just him. Coltrane on Trinkle Tinkle is at his best, just flying. One of the great things about listening to this cut is that no matter how well you know it, you'll never be able to hum exactly what Trane is playing. He's smooth and reserved on Off Minor and brilliant all around. This is one of those albums that I lived with in a tiny aparment when I was in my mid-twenties and struggling. But being able to listen to this made the place feel larger and me richer.

Giant Steps - John Coltrane
Listening to this album makes my BBQ chicken come out better. Over the years, I have developed a groove of putting the meat on the grill just at the beginning. I don't know exactly when at what point in which songs, but there are some subliminal things going on in my head that let me know when to turn the birds. It's just that deeply a part of me.

Herbie Hancock Quartet
My personal favorite jazz song of all is on this album. It's "I Fall In Love Too Easily". For me, it epitomizes the perfection of the jazz ballad. It starts off with a soft lonely trumpet, the purity and muted strength of Wynton Marsalis, and it just falls into an easy pace. It kicks up to happy pace and runs, then slows back down to a dead haunting stop. I mean with Ron Carter and Tony Williams, how could you not expect a perfect ensemble? Eye of the Hurricane is also great, as is the lengthy A Quick Sketch. They way they wind up and deliver is awesome.

Posted by mbowen at October 8, 2003 12:35 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


I would never presume to state the "15 greatest", but I can give you "15 definitive must haves" Jazz LPs:

1) John Coltrane, "A Love Supreme" 1964 (Deluxe Edition with altenate tracks and Antibes "live"

2) Miles Davis, "ESP" or "Miles Smiles" 1964-5ish

3) Oliver Nelson, "Blues and the Abstract Truth" 1964

4) McCoy Tyner, "The Super Trios" or "The Greeting" 1977

5) Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers, "Indestuctible" 1964

6) Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers, "Album of the Year", 1980

7) Woody Shaw, "Woody III", 1980ish

8) Wayne Shorter, "Ju Ju", 1965

9) Larry Young, "Unity", 1966

10) VSOP, The Quintet (Herbie, Ron, Freddie, Tony and Wayne) Columbia Records, 1976-77ish?

11) McCoy Tyner, "The Real McCoy", 1967

12) Clifford Brown, The Emarcy Recordings 1955ish, the one with "Gertrude's Bounce"

13) Sonny Stitt, Sonny Rollins, Dizzy Gillespie, on Verve, the one with "The Eternal Triangle", 1957ish

14) Dave Holland, "Seeds of Time", 1980

15) The Art Ensemble of Chicago, "Third Decade" 1980

If you really want to hear Herbie Hancock at his pianistic best: the duets with Chick Corea from 1978.

The Thelonious Monk sessions on Riverside with Johnny Griffin.

Giant Steps, make sure you get all the alternate takes!!

A cool record is Coltrane and Duke, with tune "Take the Coltrane"

Posted by: Reazon13 at October 9, 2003 11:21 AM

All good stuff I presume. I've got Love Supreme and also pops has the huge moster box set that I've got to rip one of these days. Some of the alt takes are fabulous.

I haven't listened to Juju recently. I think I'll pop it on right now. I've also got Monk on Riverside and a lot of Herbie Hancock including VSOP, Quintet, Headhunters, Feets, and his duos with Chick Corea. I really like jazz piano so I've got Art Tatum and Bud Powell, Ahmad Jamal etc, but I don't have any McCoy Tyner as a featured artist. So I definitely want to look into that.

I've also got a lot of fusion stuff which is Jazz as far as I'm concerned. I don't do the snob stuff much any longer.

Oliver Nelson is new to me so I guess I'm in for a pleasant surprise. Thanks.

Posted by: Cobb at October 9, 2003 12:00 PM

I would like to provide some old and new titles for your listening pleasure.

Miles Davis - Kind of Blue - 1959

Sarah Vaughan - Live at Mister Kelly's - 1957

Cannonball Adderley - Somethin' Else - 1958

Stanley Turrentine - Hustlin' - 1964

Shirley Horn - Traveling Light - 1965

Shirley Horn - Here's To Life - 1992

Miles Davis & The Modern Jazz Giants - Bag's Groove - 1954

Duke Ellington & Count Basie - The Count Meets The Duke - 1961

McCoy Tyner with Symphony - What The World Needs Now - The Music of Burt Bacharach - 1997

John Coltrane/Johnny Hartman - John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman - 1963

Ella Fitzgerald - The Complete Ella Fitzgerald Song Books

Coleman Hawkins - Desafinado - 1962

Duke Ellington/Coleman Hawkins - Duke Ellington Meets Coleman - 1962

Stan Getz/Joao Gilberto featuring Antonio Carlos Jobim - Getz/Gilberto - 1963

Jeremy Pelt - Close to My Heart - 2003

Posted by: James at October 19, 2003 05:15 PM