Jazz album recommendations?

in General Discussion edited January 2014
I'm stumped.

I used to go to a really cool used CD store on Bloor Street called Second Spin, to get Jazz CD's and I still do, but I usually find myself buying blind.

So are there any must-haves for any Jazz neophytes? Any notable names or record labels to look for?

Lately I've been getting stuff from ECM Records, and they have some really cool 'out-there' records (like Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock and Frank DeJohnette's "Always Let Me Go"), but lately I'd like something more traditional and less "post-modern".

Any thoughts?


  • Reply 1 of 60
    depends where your tastes lie...

    my piano jazz recommended list is different than vocal, than acid jazz

    off the top of my head, I'd suggest Brubeck, Ella/Billie, Armstrong, Coltrane, Davis... this would get long.

    check some of the reviewed Top 100 lists Google returned

    See if you can check out the fabulous Ken Burns documentary on Jazz.

    Each episode (and the DVD box set) include recommended listening per period/style/era.
  • Reply 2 of 60
    meecesmeeces Posts: 160member
    Miles Davis is usually good. He has some interesting stuff, but you can avoid that. I have a couple that I like. "Kind of Blue" and "Love Songs."
  • Reply 3 of 60
    bungebunge Posts: 7,329member
    Thelonious Monk - Monk's Dream

    Getz/Gilberto featuring Antonio Carlos Jobim

    The Quintet Jazz at Massey Hall

    Benny Goodman Lize at Carnegie Hall

    Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers - A Night in Tunisia

    Monk's Dream is always the one that comes to mind first though.
  • Reply 4 of 60
    jarrett's trio is an excellent start, ecm is a fantastic label with great integrity and a rich history, in the seventies i would just pick something for the cover and i was seldom dissapointed. some of these blind choices are things i still play today.

    a great label similar to ECM, isWINTER AND WINTER they do some really interesting things and their packaging is as interesting as can be for cds.

    Dave Douglas is one of my favorite newer artists has a couple of releases on W & W, but now records exclusively for bluebird, which is kind of a shame as they've hampered his productivity considerably. his style varies greatly from release to release, but his current quintet is similar to miles' sound just before he went full electric.

    i also like Steve Coleman's work and much of his stuff can be DOWNLOADED at his site.

    my favorite all-time artist is Thelonious Monk (i named my second son after him) and many of his recordings are warhorses.

    my top ten (actually twenty) can be found here these are all great records to start with.
  • Reply 5 of 60
    John Coltrane - a love supreme
  • Reply 6 of 60
    on the alternate media front...

    Best Jazz Movies (not including Burns' Documentary):

    Round Midnight - Dexter Gordon does 50's Paris

    Bird - Clint Eastwood and Forest Whittaker do Harlem

    Cotton Club or Chicago- for a period piece feel

    The Legend of 1900 - Tim Roth piano duel with Jelly Roll Morton wins

    A Great Day in Harlem - documentary of the 1958 Art Kane Photo shoot

    a sweet Shockwave version of the poster exists online here

    rollover some of the artists for audio samples. click for popup text.

    and that's not even approaching concert movies
  • Reply 7 of 60

    Originally posted by curiousuburb

    on the alternate media front...

    Best Jazz Movies (not including Burns' Documentary):

    Round Midnight - Dexter Gordon does 50's Paris

    Bird - Clint Eastwood and Forest Whittaker do Harlem

    Cotton Club or Chicago- for a period piece feel

    The Legend of 1900 - Tim Roth piano duel with Jelly Roll Morton wins

    A Great Day in Harlem - documentary of the 1958 Art Kane Photo shoot

    a sweet Shockwave version of the poster exists online here

    rollover some of the artists for audio samples. click for popup text.

    and that's not even approaching concert movies

    Ken Burns documentary was good in what it covered. what it didn't cover,

    and what it ignored was a huge dissapointment. a documentary with this breadth of scope shouldn't have a point of view, unfortunately ken burns had too much of Wynton Marsalis's and Stanley Crouch's point of view.

    Eastwood's company (who along with Bill Cosby is a great friend of jazz) made a great Monk documentary around the same time as BIRD, called Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser that's excellent but a little long.

    and the book that gave birth to the movie ROUND MIDNIGHT, based on Bud Powell's days in paris, written by Francis Poudras called DANCE OF THE INFIDELS is a great read even if you don't like music.

    I saw the Great Day in Harlem movie with a Q & A afterward of Johnny Griffen and it is just tremendous, such a short movie but with a lot of anecdotal info in it that really gave you a great feel for those days, when jazz WAS pop music.
  • Reply 8 of 60
    Us3-Hand On The Torch-the best of acid jazz!!!
  • Reply 9 of 60
    Thanks to everyone for the help. I'm pretty much into all kinds of Jazz, but I'm more drawn to the instrumental stuff, like the piano and bass stuff I usually hear at classy cafes. Diana Krall et al. are nice, but it doesn't do much for me.

    Although I'm ashamed to admit it, I actually bought most (if not all) of my ECM stuff based on their fantastic cover art, and I haven't been disappointed yet.

    Coltrane seems to be one of the most revered names in Jazz and pretty much everyone here's mentioned him...I'll be sure to look out for him.

    I also just remembered "1+1" by Herbie Hancock (and someone else who's name I don't remember) -- I actually got to like it by listening to someone else's Shared Playlist on the University network.

    What about acid jazz/techno-jazz? I picked up Tourist by Saint-Germain, and it was okay, but it didn't really impress me.
  • Reply 10 of 60
    pfflampfflam Posts: 5,053member
    That stuff you mentioned in the first post is hardly "out there" . .

    You want some good "out there" stuff:

    Eric Dolphy --"Out To Lunch"!!!!

    Ornette Coleman and James 'Blood' Ulmer -"Tales Of Captain Black" (very rare, probably vynil only)

    Any Sun Ra

    COltrane "Selflessness" + ""Paris Live" (for its version of Naima

    World Saxophone quartet -"Ellington Tribute album"

    Archie Schepp -"Fire Music"

    Miles Davis -"Bitches Brew" (for "Miles Chases The Voodoo Down")and/or "Live/Evil"

    some good Not so "out there" stuff:

    Ellington : --"The Far East Suite" -excellent album that few know of

    Ellington: -"Mood Indigos" --Johny Hodges on "Prelude To A Kiss" is the best

    Ellington, Max Roach, and Charles Mingus : --"Money Jungle" --can you say: "best jazz album EVAR!"

    Mingus -"Pithecanthropus Erectus"

    Rhaasan Roland Kirk -"The Vibration Continues" --unbeleivably great . .. though he can stretch it out there . . . he is a blind guy that circularly breaths while playing three saxophones at once and sometimes a noseflute too . . .but not on every tunes . . . its a good compilation of his greatest hits.
  • Reply 11 of 60
    pfflampfflam Posts: 5,053member
    Let me caution you on that list above: when I say out there, I mean out there

    Most of these names are established masters of their art . .. even the super out there stuff . . . but Jazz is a big big world . . . you can go back in time and get old stuff that will stay contemporary for ever.
  • Reply 12 of 60
    Mose Allison - The Mose Chronicles, Live in London

    Not necessarily pure Jazz. A combination of genres, but unbelievably good. I saw Mose play in Atlanta this past January at a blue bar.
  • Reply 13 of 60
    Lots of great stuff out there, and you've gotten lots of great advice.

    My $.02:

    Ellington's "Money Jungle"' is great.

    I like early Miles Davis including " 'Round about Midnight" and "Milestones"

    Anything by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. My current favorite is "Buhaina's Delight"

    For Piano:

    At some point you have to listen to Art Tatum, who I think is in a class by himself.

    Oscar Peterson

    Monk ( I'm listening to "Live at the It Club" as I'm writing)

    Monty Alexander

    and a long time favorite since I was 8 or 9 Dave Brubeck. "Live at Carnegie Hall" generates some amazing energy.


    Jimmy Smith, I like "Dot Com Blues"

    for vibes:

    Lionel Hampton "Blues for Gates", I don't know what album, I have it on a compilation

    and Milt Jackson "Night Mist"


    John Coltrane "A Love Supreme" and "Lush Life"

    Joe Henderson "So Near, So Far" "Lush Life-The music of Billy Strayhorn"

    Paquito D'Rivera "Havana Cafe"

    Sonny Rollins "Lush Life" (Billy Strayhorn does show up a lot)


    Miles Davis

    Clark Terry "Daylight Express"

    I'm not trying to say anything definitive, just stuff I've stumbled on that does not get old quickly.

    One more:

    Wynton Marsalis "In This House, On This Day"

    Enjoy what you can find, it does grow on you.

  • Reply 14 of 60
    pfflampfflam Posts: 5,053member
    One note about Coltrane: there are distinct periods to his work. It gets more and more "outside" as he gets along. I personally like the middle to late period, with the Quartet ( period that starts with A Love Supreme but, IMO, by no means stops growing there . . .this period starts to get downright messy when he starts playing with Archie Shepp (though The Village Vangaurd Again is great!) and endless walls of sound when AliceColtrane regularly plays (though even then there are some good moments; the album mentioned with Schepp, Kulu Se Mama is also a great late album)

    Make sure that you know what Coltrane you want to listen to before you buy it
  • Reply 15 of 60
    Oh yeah, go out and get some jaco pastorius
  • Reply 16 of 60
    I've been looking for jazz albums to get as well, though most of what I find on the iTunes music store is a bit too "upbeat" for my tastes. I'm only recently getting into Jazz and would like to develop a higher appreciation for it but I think that the best way for me to do this would be to find jazz music that is closer to things I already like.

    Most of the music I listen to right now consists of indy metal, hardcore and rock. If it helps at all, my most played bands in iTunes are Glassjaw, Everytime I Die, Mogwai, the Mercury Program, Dillinger Escape Plan, Zao, and Vince Guaraldi.

    I'm not a huge fan of vocal jazz. I like things with really stellar drumming as I am a drummer.

    So basically, can anyone recommend something that isn't very "upbeat", perhaps played largely in minors with an edge, and has really great drumming?

  • Reply 17 of 60
    pfflampfflam Posts: 5,053member
    look at my list of outside stuff . . . the Miles davis of teh period I mentioned is surprisingly dark at times and close to metal in its edge-ness

    same with some of the Coltrane . .. Chim Chim Cheree is a good tune if you can find it . . its in a minor and rocks

    David Murray has some good stuff too: and he can get very hard edged

    If you want to really challenge yourself, that Ornette Coleman with the James Blood Ulmer is intense as are any of his albums WITH the original Prime Time band: they were two electric guitars electric bass and drums . . . sometimes two drummers . . . . his 'theory', known as Harmalodics, has no set time signatures, nor key and every instrument can alternate twixt lead-harmony-melody and harmony-harmony-melody . . . if that makes any sense

    It is very Avant-Garde and Ornette is, has been and always will be cooler than anybody . . . except maybe Hendrix

    The problem is is that I don't think that any of that period of his work has been released on CD . . . some of his later Prime Time Double Octet but that doesn't have the same freaky freaky edge to it . . .

    try also Henry Threadgill: his stuff can be pretty intense: both in his new band and in his old band called Air . . . not the rock band but 70s jazz . . . his album called New Air is good because of a hard hitting drummer named Pharoan Aklaf (IIRC) check him out.
  • Reply 18 of 60
    An new ECM jazz album you'd really like is Tord Gustavsen's 'Changing Places'. Beautiful, simple melodies with names like 'Song of Yearning'. Lovely.

    Check out The Necks if you like fifty-minute long pieces of spiritual, melodic improvised music (my favourite band.)

    You might like John Coltrane's wife, Alice Coltrane, whose 'Journey in Satchidanda' is one of the most... oh look, just buy this record today.

    The bigband reinvented: Bob Moses, former drummer for Rahsaan Roland Kirk, genius arranger, not very sane. 'Time Stood Still' is the one in my opinion.

    'New Beginnings' by Don Pullen (pianist) is excellent. 'A Thousand Nights and a Night' by Kip Hanrahan is my favourite album. 'Aram of the Two Rivers' by Jonas Hellborg rules.
  • Reply 19 of 60
    Oh oh oh: 'Brown Rice' by Don Cherry.

    Anything by Roland Kirk. The Music Revelation Orchestra (James Blood Ulmer, Jamaaladeen Tacuma) are good. Funky.
  • Reply 20 of 60
    'Great drumming, minor keys, with an edge?'

    Tony Williams and Jonas Hellborg with the Soldier String Quartet, 'The Word'. Elegant and too lovely.

    'Arc of the Testimony' by Arcana, a group with Tony Williams, Pharoah Sanders, Bill Laswell, Graham Haynes and Buckethead in. Superheavy modern fusion with loud guitars.

    'Tenderness' by Kip Hanrahan.
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