Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Jazz lists

My soon to be former neighbor has a list of jazz greats, of jazz albums he likes, that he can remember without looking at his collection.

OK, then. I like jazz. It may not say that over on my sidebar, but I do. I go to jazz concerts whenever I can (and when I like). Last one: Kurt Elling in KC, to celebrate an anniversary in December. But this isn't about concerts, is it? It's about albums. Here's my list of albums I love, that may or may not be "great":

1. Miles Davis, Kind of Blue. Yeah, it's on everyone's list. But it's the one that turned me on to jazz and that never gets old. Doo-do-doo-do. I heard a jazz singer in Carbondale, IL do a vocalese version of Freddie the Freeloader. Didn't like that so much. But the original version is what interpellation means. It's calling you.

2. John Coltrane, Love Supreme. (I seem to have inadvertently deleted #2-4. I'll have to restore them a little later.)

5. Kurt Elling, Live at the Green Mill
. Kurt Elling is getting a lot of love in this entry. My first exposure to Elling was this CD (bought in Indianapolis during my one year there). His version of "Going to Chicago," with vocalese great Jon Hendricks, is as memorable as songs get.

6. Patricia Barber, Modern Cool. Another vocal CD by a Chicago-based musician, also purchased during my one year in Indy. (Or The Nap, as some of my summer students at IU called it.) She does an amazing version of "Light My Fire." Also a be-a-utiful vocal dance on "Constantinople." (And features my favorite contemporary trumpet player, Dave Douglas, on one track.)

7. Dave Douglas, Charms of the Night Sky. Oh but I love this CD. I love the mingling of jazz trumpet and Eastern European instruments (accordian, violin). I love the ease, the delight. Mmmm. (He did A Thousand Evenings with the same musicians. Also unforgettable. But those are just two of many, many great discs.)

8. Wayne Shorter, Footprints Live! . The greatest living jazz musician and composer, imho. This CD was his accoustic comeback. Astounding music. But let's not forget the old ones: Juju. Night Dreamer. Speak No Evil. Hearing McCoy Tyner play the opening notes of Juju always takes my breath away.

9. McCoy Tyner, Quartet. His latest. A Christmas gift last year. A current favorite. No one hits the keys like McCoy. (I've also loved The Real McCoy and Trident.)

10. Dave Holland, Prime Directive. Another one that has seen a lot of play. Another (along with Coltrane, Shorter) Miles Davis alum. Another (along with Mingus) bass player. I like the bass.

11. Ben Allison, Peace Pipe. A third bass player. He teamed up with Malian kora player Mamadou Diabate to produce sounds that resonate deep in the gut.

12. Duke Ellington, Ellington at Newport, 1956. The classic recording of a classic set. "Take the A Train." "Mood Indigo." Good stuff. Good energy.

13. Cassandra Wilson, Blue Light Till Dawn. Another vocalist who blurs lines. Her version of "Tupelo Honey" often gets lodged in my brain, and I don't mind at all.


Mike Shapiro said...

Thanks for the list, and the link to other lists! I'm at exactly the place Remnick describes—working to convince myself to like jazz—and I need maps like these to orient myself.

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