Trying to Get Into Jazz? Start With These CDs

Eugene Holley Jr.

Eugene Holley Jr. hide caption

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This month, as you know, News & Notes is exploring jazz music with a series of profiles, features, and interviews.

Our introductory segment, "What Is Jazz?," featured insight from three jazz aficionados, including freelance writer and radio producer Eugene Holley Jr.

Here, Holley offers five "can't miss" CDs which serve as good introductions to the genre:

Miles Davis, Kind of Blue, Sony Music, 1959:
The greatest and most popular jazz recording every made! And no wonder: Miles Davis, with saxophonists John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley, pianists Wynton Kelly and Bill Evans, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb, laid down five blues-based, hip-notic ballad and mid-tempo tracks that soothes and grooves jazz neophytes and die hards alike.

Ahmad Jamal, Ahmad Jamal at the Pershing: But Not For Me, Argo/Cadet 1958:
A pianist named Ahmad Jamal, with bassist Israel Crosby and New Orleans-born drummer Vernel Fournier, recorded a live set at the Pershing Room in South Side Chicago. The result yielded a master class on how live jazz swings, as evidenced by Jamal's hit rendition of "Poinciana."



Miles Davis
This photo of Miles Davis comes from the cover of the album, "Kind of Blue."

Sony


John Coltrane, A Love Supreme, Impulse!, 1964:
This masterful four-track suite — with pianist McCoy Tyner, drummer Elvin Jones, and bassist Jimmy Garrison — took Coltrane's powerful "sheets of sound" improvisations to the heights of jazz immortality.

Stan Getz/Joao Gilberto/Antonio Carlos Jobim, Getz/Gilberto, Verve, 1964: This album joined Brazilian bossa nova co-creators, pianist/composer Antonio Carlos Jobim, singer/guitarist Joao Gilberto, along with his wife Astrud on vocals, with American saxophonist Stan Getz. This soft and soulful Latin jazz marriage produced many enduring standards, including "The Girl From Ipanema."

Herbie Hancock, Gershwin's World, Verve 1998: Though he won a Grammy for River: The Joni Letters, this project equally shows the all-encompassing artistry of this pianist. A true all-star date that includes Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder, and saxophonist Wayne Shorter, Hancock re-imagines music created and inspired by George Gershwin into uncharted R&B, classical, and African inventions and dimensions.

What, if anything, would you add to this list?

More: What Is Jazz? And Are You a Fan?

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CANNONBALL ADDERLEY -- MERCY, MERCY, MERCY -- CAPITOL
LOUIS ARMSTRONG -- LOUIS ARMSTRONG & EARL HINES -- COLUMBIA/LEGACY
GENE AMMONS -- JAMMIN' IN HI-FI -- PRESTIGE
COUNT BASIE -- APRIL IN PARIS -- VERVE
SIDNEY BECHET -- SIDNEY BECHET & FRIENDS -- EMARCY
TONY BENNETT -- JAZZ -- COLUMBIA
GEORGE BENSON -- THIS IS JAZZ, VOLUME 9 -- COLUMBIA/LEGACY
ART BLAKEY/JAZZ MESSENGERS -- MOANIN' -- BLUE NOTE
CLIFFORD BROWN -- CLIFFORD BROWN & MAX ROACH -- VERVE
DAVE BRUBECK -- TIME OUT -- COLUMBIA
RAY BRYANT -- HERE'S RAY BRYANT -- PRESTIGE
BENNY CARTER -- FURTHER DEFINITIONS -- IMPULSE
BETTY CARTER -- THE AUDIENCE WITH -- VERVE
RAY CHARLES -- GREATEST HITS -- RHINO
SONNY CLARK -- COOL STRUTTIN' -- BLUE NOTE
NAT COLE -- AFTER MIDNIGHT SESSIONS -- CAPITOL
ORNETTE COLEMAN -- CHANGE OF THE CENTURY -- ATLANTIC
JOHN COLTRANE -- GIANT STEPS -- ATLANTIC
JOHN COLTRANE -- JOHN COLTRANE & JOHN HARTMAN -- IMPULSE
JOHN COLTRANE -- KEN BURNS' JAZZ -- VERVE
MILES DAVIS -- KIND OF BLUE -- COLUMBIA/LEGACY
MILES DAVIS -- PORGY & BESS -- COLUMBIA
MILES DAVIS -- BIRTH OF THE COOL -- CAPITOL
CHARLES EARLAND -- ALMIGHTY BURNER -- 32 JAZZ
BILLY ECKSTINE -- JAZZMASTERS 22 -- VERVE
DUKE ELLINGTON -- AT NEWPORT -- COLUMBIA
DUKE ELLINGTON/JOHNNY HODGES -- SIDE BY SIDE -- VERVE
BILL EVANS -- JAZZ SHOWCASE -- PRESTIGE
ELLA FITZGERALD/LOUIS ARMSTRONG -- ELLA AND LOUIS -- VERVE
ELLA FITZGERALD -- GERSHWIN SONGBOOK -- VERVE
TOMMY FLANAGAN -- OVERSEAS -- PRESTIGE
RED GARLAND -- RED'S BLUES -- PRESTIGE
ERROLL GARNER -- JAZZMASTERS 7 -- VERVE
STAN GETZ -- ULTIMATE -- VERVE
STAN GETZ -- GETZ/GILBERTO -- VERVE
DIZZY GILLESPIE -- GILLESPIANA/CARNEGIE HALL -- VERVE
DIZZY GILLESPIE -- BIRKS' WORKS -- VERVE
BENNY GOODMAN -- AT CARNEGIE HALL -- COLUMBIA/LEGACY
DEXTER GORDON -- ONE FLIGHT UP -- BLUE NOTE
STEPHANE GRAPPELLI -- JAZZMASTERS 11 -- VERVE
GRANT GREEN -- COMPLETE QUARTETS WITH SONNY CLARK -- BLUE NOTE
LIONEL HAMPTON -- SWINGSATION -- VERVE
HERBIE HANCOCK -- TAKIN' OFF -- BLUE NOTE
EDDIE HARRIS -- ARTIST'S CHOICE -- RHINO
JOHNNY HARTMAN -- UNFORGETTABLE -- IMPULSE
HAMPTON HAWES -- THE TRIO, VOLUME 2 -- PRESTIGE
COLEMAN HAWKINS -- ULTIMATE -- VERVE
ROY HAYNES -- OUT OF THE AFTERNOON -- IMPULSE
JOE HENDERSON -- INNER URGE -- BLUE NOTE
WOODY HERMAN -- THUNDERING HERDS -- COLUMBIA
BILLIE HOLIDAY -- KEN BURNS' JAZZ -- VERVE
FREDDIE HUBBARD -- READY FOR FREDDIE -- BLUE NOTE
MILT JACKSON -- BAGS & TRANE -- ATLANTIC
ANTONIO CARLOS JOBIM -- SONGBOOK -- VERVE
J.J. JOHNSON -- J.J. INC. -- COLUMBIA/LEGACY
QUINCY JONES -- PURE DELIGHT -- RAZOR & TIE
WYNTON KELLY -- KELLY BLUE -- PRESTIGE/OJC
STAN KENTON -- WEST SIDE STORY -- CAPITOL
RAHSAAN ROLAND KIRK -- INFLATED TEAR -- RHINO
LAMBERT, HENDRICKS & ROSS -- HOTTEST NEW GROUP IN JAZZ -- COLUMBIA/LEGACY
YUSEF LATEEF -- EVERY VILLAGE HAS A SONG -- RHINO
LES MCCANN & EDDIE HARRIS -- SWISS MOVEMENT -- RHINO
CARMEN MCRAE -- HERE TO STAY -- DECCA
CHARLES MINGUS -- AH UM -- COLUMBIA
HANK MOBLEY -- NO ROOM FOR SQUARES -- BLUE NOTE
THELONIOUS MONK -- THE COMPOSER -- COLUMBIA
WES MONTGOMERY -- INCREDIBLE JAZZ GUITAR -- PRESTIGE
LEE MORGAN -- SIDEWINDER -- BLUE NOTE
GERRY MULLIGAN -- COMPACT JAZZ -- VERVE
OLIVER NELSON -- BLUES & THE ABSTRACT TRUTH -- IMPULSE
CHARLIE PARKER -- CONFIRMATION: BEST OF VERVE YEARS -- VERVE
OSCAR PETERSON -- SOUND OF THE TRIO -- VERVE
BUD POWELL -- BEST OF BLUE NOTE -- BLUE NOTE
TITO PUENTE -- OYE COMO VA: DANCE COLLECTION -- CONCORD
BUDDY RICH -- SWINGIN' NEW BIG BAND -- PACIFIC
SONNY ROLLINS -- SAXOPHONE COLOSSUS -- PRESTIGE
ARTIE SHAW -- MIXED BAG -- MUSICMASTERS
WAYNE SHORTER -- SPEAK NO EVIL -- BLUE NOTE
HORACE SILVER -- SONG FOR MY FATHER -- BLUE NOTE
FRANK SINATRA -- AT THE SANDS -- REPRISE
JIMMY SMITH -- JAZZMASTERS 29 -- VERVE
ART TATUM -- 20TH CENTURY PIANO GENIUS -- VERVE
SARAH VAUGHAN -- KEN BURNS' JAZZ -- VERVE
DINAH WASHINGTON -- WHAT A DIFFERENCE, A DAY MAKES -- VERVE
BEN WEBSTER -- ULTIMATE -- VERVE
JOE WILLIAMS -- EVERYDAY: BEST OF VERVE YEARS -- VERVE
NANCY WILSON -- YESTERDAY'S LOVE SONGS, TODAY'S BLUES -- CAPITOL
LESTER YOUNG -- KEN BURNS' JAZZ -- VERVE

Sent by dirtyblues | 6:53 PM | 7-7-2008

If you're talking about introducing someone to jazz, the assumption is that this intro means be-bop - jazz created between 1957 and 1964. And if you want to present offerings likey to be accepted and enjoyed without too big of a harmonic hurdle, then the best option is ballads or the standards. My short list for jazz newcomers is:
1) John Coltrane Plays For Lovers - a compilation CD of ballads recorded in 1957 and 1958. Red Garland on piano; Paul Chambers on bass.
2) The Miles Davis In Person at the Blackhawk, 1961. The definition of be-bop plus awesome renditions of T.Monk ballad "'Round Midnight" and standards.
3) Louis Armstrong Meets Oscar Peterson, 1957. Paying homage to the NoLa, and intro should ininclude this offering in which Louis and Oscar render the standards like few others.
These three will entertain for decades.
ds
/*
.

Sent by Dwayne Smalley | 7:33 PM | 7-7-2008

When it comes to Jazz I am not as deep as some of my friends. I do know that "A Love Supreme" and "Kind of Blue" are two of THE best recordings I have ever heard. Period.

Sent by Taiwan Rogers | 7:40 PM | 7-7-2008

Classic Charles Lloyd - Forest Flower
Recent Lloyd - The River is Wide

Freddy Hubbard - Backlash

Anything from the Black Arts Movement time frame produced on the Bob Thiele record label

and that cut where Herbie Mann does Battle Hymn of the Republic

Sent by audiodramatist | 12:16 AM | 7-8-2008

"lawd this house is gonna get raided, yes sir!! 30 days in jail with my back up against the wall..." mama Bessie Smith from Jailhouse Blues...

a minor chord problem in 3/4 time...is that the music expression known as jazz has foundation and roots in what some call the blues at one end as well as avant garde at the other [i am thinking ornette coleman here and sun ra]... some folks like female vocalists, some male, some like horn blowers, some like keys tinklers.. it all depends on that "feeling" one gets from the audio presentation... but a short list

BESSIE SMITH - everything
MA RAINEY -everything
LOUIS ARMSTRONG - pre 1955 years
ART TATUM -everything
PAUL ROBESON -everything
SCOTT JOPLIN - Piano Rags
ERIC DOLPHY -OUT TO LUNCH/OTHER ASPECTS
OLIVER NELSON - THE BLUES AND ABSTRACT TRUTH
MCOY TYNER - EXTENSIONS, ASANTE, DOLPHIN DANCE, THE REAL MCCOY
MARY LOU WILLIAMS -everything
Ms. NINA SIMONE - everything
HORACE SILVER - SONG FOR MY FATHER/CAPE VERDEAN BLUES
MONK MONK MONK
CHARLES MINGUS -everything
OSCAR PETERSON - everything keyboard genuis next to ART TATUM
WILLIAM STRAYHORN -everything
DUKE ELLINGTON -everything - some works credited to Duke maybe Strayhorn, Ray Nance or Johnny Hodges in origin.
SUCH SWEET THUNDER & BLACK BROWN & BEIGE must haves...
ANDY BEY -- everything
BHEKI MSELEKU --CELEBRATION
HERBIE HANCOCK - TAKIN OFF
JOHN COLTRANE -- KULU SE MAMA, OLE', SUNSHIP, EXPRESSION, BLUE TRANE, LOVE SUPREME
PHAROAH SANDERS - BLACK UNITY, THEMBI, KARMA
ALICE COLTRANE - everything
SARAH VAUGHAN - APRIL IN PARIS, I LOVE BRASIL
RED GARLAND - everything
ELLA ELLA ELLA - some so-called rappers need to learn from the master
JOHN BURKS "DIZZY" GILLESPIE -everything
ROLAND HAYES..

ok that is the short list -- i tend towards the piano, upper right bass and trap/skins trio or a contra-alto female voice... while i might listent to a dianh washington or nancy wilson..it's folks like ernestine anderson, bessie smith and ms. nina simone that get into my bones -- feeling listen to sinnerman, pirate jenny or revolution...

oh cause she just thumbed me upside the head --shirley horn..

up and coming Hiromi-- this nihonji [japanese] woman is mount fuji on fire! She and Ornette Coleman or Wayne Shorter should get together and improv.

Sent by K MJUMBE | 3:17 AM | 7-8-2008

While I know that "Kind of Blue" is one of the greatest jazz albums of all time, and a personal favorite, I think many people would be excited by Stanley Turrentine's "Sugar" and Freddie Hubbard's "Red Clay". They are pure jazz disks but have elements of many different types of music. They swing and can be enjoyed on many different levels.

Sent by Cephas Bowles | 5:28 PM | 7-8-2008

Jim Hall -- Take Ten, others
Pat Metheny -- many throughout the years
Jim Hall and Pat Metheny
Herbie Hancock
Mike Stern
Patricia Barber -- Night Club, others
Tonino Horta -- Once I Loved

Although bepop and swing are truly wonderful, jazz didn't stop there. Modern jazz continues the tradition onward with the addition of brazilian harmony and rhythm and so much more.

Sent by Ati Yates | 12:19 AM | 7-9-2008

Farai:

I have to say: I'm a bit surprised (to say the least) that you have no clue of Jazz Music as you have asserted considering your well-roundedness of a multitude of the culture from both an historical and contemporary context.

This is one of many issues I have with black women as a man in his late thirties/early forties still looking for his 'soul-mate'. I'm just highlighting this as a "typical" example of sistas that are more predisposed with finding brothas that pay more attention to what they're into than stretching out of their comfort zone/narcissism and trying to find out what's on the minds of their well-versed, well-rounded male counterparts. Your thoguhts...

Sent by Puzzle Diddy | 6:44 PM | 7-9-2008

Dear News and Notes,

I am proud to say that jazz is alive and well here in the south. My son, who is a 19 year old freshman at Florida A&M, has been playing the trumpet since he was in the third grade. He has been performing in his own jazz band since the 7th grade. He and his friends, and band mates, have used their jazz talents to not only afford themselves college scholarships but to also preserve that which your recent discussion highlighted. They are bigger fans of Miles, Coltrane, Hancock and Adderely than I will ever be. As a jazz lover I never thought that it would be possible for a youngin' to out do me on jazz history. Can you imagine having knock down drag outs about the music of Miles Davis vs. Freddie Hubbard with your 14 year old son and his friends? Now that's what I call a joy to behold. They have performed at numerous jazz festivals and are now part of the Cannonball and Nat Adderley Jazz Institute at FAMU. These are the people that will save jazz. A new age of artist who study the music and believe in its roots. I just hope that we as adults can appreciate the emergence of talent that is pursuing the preservation of the jazz thrown.

Sent by Charles Griggs | 9:36 PM | 7-9-2008

This is a wonderful list of jazz greats.
There is a new kid on the Internet Muse-ic highway.
Where jazz, R&B and awesome Blues, the Elder to jazz is offered up. taintradio.org. Turn it loose on your teens.

Aj
Raleigh, NC

Sent by ajuba joy | 7:02 AM | 7-10-2008

Yeah, Farai -

Get with it. Can't believe you don't know and can't appreciate everything. Damn. I thought you were perfect.

Sent by depressed diddy | 8:35 AM | 7-10-2008

Farai (and depressed diddy):

Being that JAZZ IS the ONLY ORIGINAL American Art Form, I would think MORE Sistahs like yourself--and the person disguising himself (or herself) as 'depressed diddy' would kinda study this incredible art form for it's relevance, significance and contribution to the culture, which is/was created by BLACK MEN ( or is this the real issue... ); depressed diddy's comment just underscores the fact that sistahs are more interested in "getting their satisfaction on" and NOT learning about what's on the minds of REAL BROTHAS who still hold out hope that there IS a BLACK WOMAN that is not so self-absorbed and filled with stereotypes about black men (Something New the film). Real Brothas know there's "nothing new" about "something new"--just watch A&E and MSNBC's to catch a predator if you want to see 'something new' in action!

Any sistahs (and depressed diddys) out there ever heard of Romare Bearden? I bet you know who Picasso is or Monet... :))

Sent by Puzzle Diddy | 1:04 PM | 7-10-2008

After reading P Diddy's above comment, I have to say as a Black Woman, I agree with him in the respect that some-if not most-black women are completely in this "what can you do for me" and not interested in exploring certain passions of "the savvy amongst our black male counterparts".

As does lots of us sistas, I have quite a few brotha-bashing girlfirends I have to constantly get away from as I've endured one-too-many stories of them being jilted by some brotha. don't get me wrong, I know our brothas still have work to do... but so do we!

btw: "Something New" as the alternative is really NOT the answer either-at least not for this sista.

P. Diddy - keep up the good posts.

Sent by Sista Gurl in the Self-Help Section | 6:33 PM | 7-10-2008

Looking for 24/7 Jazz non commerical on your radio if you can get it, or on line with streaming link.
91.1 fm (The Bay area Jazz satation), or check out the net, www.kcsm.org

One of the last Jazz stations of it's kind !

Sent by Robert H. | 9:54 PM | 7-19-2008

http://www.wclk.com (Clarke-Atlanta University's own) in Atlanta is my favorite Jazz Station. I'm very pleased with the effort by College Radio to keep the genre alive and to expose it young progressive audiences.

College Radio--You Rock with Jazz!!

Sent by Zman | 3:09 PM | 7-23-2008

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