A Good Week for Jazz


15 feb 2008, 13:30

Kurt Vonnegut said, in his book, Timequake: "...lovemaking, if sincere, is one of the best ideas Satan put in the apple she gave to the serpent to give to Eve.

The best idea in that apple, though, is making jazz."

I've always felt the same, but have had a hard time finding recordings of the kind of jazz that makes me feel like I just had a seriously sincere bite of that apple. Lately, though, my local library has been getting in more and more classic jazz CDs, and I'm taking full advantage.

Now, when some people say "", they are talking about any flaccid instrumental music played by a geri-curled white guy with a soprano sax. I say "balls" to that crap. I'm talking about guys (and gals) who know their instruments, and love making them talk, standing in a circle, taking turns just playing.

But I'm about to start name-dropping, and if you don't want to read that, at least skim through and click on the preview arrows. Do yourself a favor and give some of this stuff a listen:

I've always liked big band stuff; Harry Connick, Jr. is a top notch entertainer with a fantastic crew; listening to his stuff led me to Duke Ellington and the like. I had a "Cotton Club" CD with lots of Ellington, Cab Calloway, Lena Horne; and that used to be enough. But then...

Miles Davis - I was a trumpet player myself, and people who know that have always recommmended Miles, but I only really "got" him recently. I found a copy of Cookin' With The Miles Davis Quintet for a dollar somewhere, and picked it up. It had My Funny Valentine on it, and I thought that was cool, but it was Airegin that hooked me. And after a few listens, I knew I wanted more. So when the library had Birth of the Cool, I picked it up, only to be completely blown away by Move!

I grabbed Blue Train, next. My first impression of John Coltrane had come from high school jazz band, where his devotees struggled to sound like something other than a cat getting violated. That was unfair, and after hearing the title track of Blue Train, I was sold.

And now, I knew I liked .

That gave me a good staring point. From looking at the line-ups on their album credits, I started to figure out who I liked: Philly Joe Jones and Paul Chambers were the drums and bass, respectively on those first two albums. Lee Morgan played trumpet on Blue Train... I sniffed around for other greats they had played with.

I found Wayne Shorter that way. The library had Night Dreamer and Speak No Evil this week. Freddie Hubbard's name jumped out at me from one of those albums; I knew of Freddie because he played on Billy Joel's Zanzibar 52nd Street album, and I had tracked down Freddie's fantastic Red Clay after hearing that.

Somehow, I stumbled over Cannonball Adderley, too. His Somethin' Else - which featured Miles on horn - was... and I adored his Fiddler on the Roof and Mercy, Mercy, Mercy! Live at 'The Club'.

Now, I realize that non-jazz fans have left for other journals by this point. No one likes to sit and read a list of names that mean nothing to them. I sympathize; that's what kept me from getting into this stuff for so long. But I hope something here will spark someone's curiosity enough to surf over and play a few sample tracks.

I haven't even scratched the surface of what I like, let alone what is out there. There is a whole world of great stuff; Joe Pass and Django Reinhardt, if you like amazing guitar; Weather Report, Herbie Hancock's Sextant, and other post-fusion stuff if you feel like following the trail into the future.

I'm not a very convincing serpent... but this is a damned good apple. Sure you don't want a bite? :)


  • rockosmodurnlif

    After running into a a load of metal purists, its nice to run into a jazz purist, if you will allow me to call you that. [i]Cookin'[/i] is my favorite Miles albums besides the perennial [i]Kind of Blue[/i], I like all those albums [i]Workin[/i], [i]Cookin'[/i] and [i]Steamin'[/i]. I'll have to add [i]Blue Train[/i] to my list since you're the second person I've seen recommend it though I'm not a Coltrane fan. I tried two albums of his I didn't like previously. I stumbled on Django last year, I've got two albums I haven't listened through all the way yet. Pat Methany is also good, I discovered Django by going backwards from Pat through Barney Kessel. Herbie is amazing. His [i]Gershwin's World[/i] is simply fantastic. I'll also add Harry Connick, Jr. to the list. Good journal.

    15 feb 2008, 22:33
  • tadmaster

    I'm pretty sure if you like those Miles albums, you'll enjoy [i]Blue Train[/i]; I have a hard time with other Coltrane classics (listened to [i]Love Supreme[/i] for the first time today... and I'll just say it's different. :) You may want to check out Herbie's New Standard, too; he covers everything from Mercy Street and All Apologies to Scarborough Fair. (I've linked to the originals here.) Definitely not standard by most definitions! Thanks for commenting... now I know a) people are reading, and b) I need to get [i]Workin'[/i] and [i]Steamin'[/i]!

    16 feb 2008, 03:53
  • rockosmodurnlif

    Yea, [i]Love Supreme[/i] was the one of the ones I listened to. Boy I just couldn't get into that, like I couldn't get into [i]Bitches' Brew[/i]. I'll add [i]New Standard[/i] to the list, ahead of Harry Connick, Jr.

    16 feb 2008, 05:45
  • earthjuice

    Nice list! Although I have to confess I'm not too much into the jazz before the 60's, two recommendations, both of which are classics, very accessible and you can often find them in the music collection of non-jazz-lovers as well: Kind of Blue by Miles Davis; Cannonball, Coltrane and Paul Chambers are playing on this one, too. Giant Steps by John Coltrane. Imo A Love Supreme indeed is not easy to listen to if you haven't heard a lot of jazz yet. If you like Somethin' Else and Blue Train, chances are high you will like these two the same or even more. Oh yeah, if you get the chance and are interested in that as well, don't forget to try some modern jazz. Chick Corea, Mike Stern, Michael Brecker (you already discovered Herbie Hancock) are not much of an insider tip (these two albums are not, either), but if you've never heard [i]of[/i] or listened [i]to[/i] them, they're worth trying.

    16 feb 2008, 11:54
  • tadmaster

    Thanks, earthjuice... I'll check out Giant Steps; Kind of Blue is one I left off the list because it was getting long, but I think that's where I found Cannonball. I love the Brecker Brothers [i]Not Ethiopia[/i]; that's some smokin' good stuff. Some Skunk Funk is pretty good, too. Chick Corea's The Ultimate Adventure is on my desk waiting it's turn right now. :) Right after I check out McCoy Tyner's Quartet and Dexter Gordon's Clubhouse! Oh, and rockosmodurnlif; I wouldn't call myself a purist by any stretch. Too many cool nooks & crannies to explore out there!

    16 feb 2008, 14:17
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