Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ten Best Jazz Recordings for Christmas

I posted a list like this last year on my South Dakota Politics site, but I can't seem to find it now. So I am making a new list of the ten best jazz recordings. It's necessarily arbitrary, and it may not be the same as my last list, but it's not hard to come up with a list of CDs that any jazz fan simply must have. So here goes:

1. Miles Davis, Kind of Blue. Universally acknowledged as the finest jazz recording ever made, for what that's worth. It is just about perfect.

2. John Coltrane, A Love Supreme. A very unusual jazz album, divided into movements like a classical symphony. Extraordinary elevation and passion.

3. Wayne Shorter, Speak No Evil. My personal favorite. Spooky, lyrical, penetrating melodies.

4. Bill Evans, Sunday at the Village Vanguard. Evans was my first love. Introspective, but with a pressure of feeling that squeezes out every drip of passion from a melody.

5. Sonny Rollins, Saxophone Colossus. The title says it all.

6. Joe Henderson, The State of the Tenor. Laconic. Exquisite. Mesmerizing. I think this was not on last year's list. What do I push off?

7. Dexter Gordan, Our Man in Paris. He showed the French who was boss! Muscular jazz at its best.

8. Cannonball Adderley, Somethin' Else. Hearing Miles Davis (sideman!) say "was that what you wanted, Cannonball?" is worth the price.

9. Charlie Mingus, Mingus Ah Um. Good thumpin' jazz. 'Good Bye Pork Pie Hat' is not to be bested.

10. Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers with Thelonious Monk. Gotta get Monk in the top ten. Gotta get the JM in the top ten. 2Birds. 1stone.

If you are thinking that this is all impression and what I feel right now, you're right. But if you are making out a Christmas list for someone else to get you, or buying for someone who is new to jazz and wants some, you can't go wrong with this list.


11. Kenny Burrell, Midnight Blue. I am sorry, but this recording has to be squeezed into the list. The sound is excellent, and the bluesy jazz is exquisite. Just get it!

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