Archive | November, 2009

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die (321-340)

21 Nov

Here is another 20 to add to the list.

Remember that there is no ranking system here, and if you don’t see your favorite jazz album yet, it doesn’t mean it won’t show up.

Every week I will offer up twenty more, in no particular order and with no ranking system or common theme (other than jazz of course).

Hopefully these lists will inspire you to seek some of these albums out that perhaps you haven’t heard before, or revisit an old favorite. And as always, we want your thoughts on any or all of these albums. Either way, let’s get started with this week, and in no particular order, albums 321 through 340.

321. Atlantis – Sun Ra (Evidence, 1969)

322. Western Suite – Jimmy Giuffre (WEA, 1958)

323. Explorations – Bill Evans (Riverside/OJC, 1961)

324. Modern Times – Steps Ahead (Elektra, 1984)

325. Fanfare For the Warriors -The Art Ensemble of Chicago (Koch Jazz, 1973)

326. Black, Brown, and Beige – Mahalia Jackson/Duke Ellington Orchestra (Columbia/Legacy, 1958)

327. Carnegie Hall Concert – Toshiko Akiyoshi with Lew Tabackin (Columbia, 1991)

328. Shaking Free – Nnenna Freelon (Concord Jazz, 1996)

329. Concert By the Sea – Erroll Garner (Columbia, 1955)

330. Epitaph – Charles Mingus (Columbia, 1990)

331. Journey in Satchidananda – Alice Coltrane (Impulse!, 1971)

332. Naked City – John Zorn (Elektra/Nonesuch, 1989)

333. Straight Ahead – Abbey Lincoln (Candid, 1961)

334. Ellis in Wonderland – Herb Ellis (Verve, 1956)

335. Sir Elf – Sir Roland Hanna (Choice, 1974)

336. Black Codes (From the Underground) – Wynton Marsalis (Columbia, 1985)

337. Brother Red – Red Holloway (Prestige Recordings, 1964)

338. Wish – Joshua Redman (Warner Bros., 1993)

339. Don’t Go to Strangers – Etta Jones (Original Jazz Classics, 1960)

340. Afro – Dizzy Gillespie (Norgran, 1955)

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die (301-320)

Missing Michael Brecker

14 Nov

michael-breckerIf you’ve read my blog or carried on any conversation about jazz with me, I make it no mystery that I have a certain affection for the late saxophonist Michael Brecker.

It is rare that much time goes by where I don’t drag fellow jazz host Robin Lloyd in to hear a track that I recently found that features Brecker, or that I don’t go on a massive hunt for a missing DAT that holds an interview I did with him at Jazz Alley before one of his concerts.

The response I get from some isn’t always positive. When I chose to name Brecker as one of the tenors in my “Dream Big Band” along side John Coltrane over the likes of Wayne Shorter, Stan Getz, or Branford Marsalis (see Building a Dream Big Band Part III: The Sax Section) many scoffed and suggested that I was choosing a commercial studio sax player over a “true legend”.

The purpose of this entry is not to try and justify my reasons for my favoritism of Michael Brecker. Instead, I simply want to continue to remember a musician that had such an increadible impact on me, nearly three years after he lost his battle with MDS.

It is true that, for much of his career, Michael was a studio musician. There are those out there that feel that you are less of a jazz musician if you spent time as a studio musician recording for large commercial rock albums. Brecker is credited on hundreds and hundreds of recordings, including Paul Simon’s Still Crazy After All These Years, Aerosmith’s Get Your Wings, and Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run, some of the most legendary albums in history. Does this make him less of a jazz musician because he worked for rock stars?

Of course not. But recording for these records is not what Brecker will be remembered for.

Michael Brecker, as far as I am concerned, should be best remembered for making it clear to a generation of musicians, my generation, that jazz is not your grandparents music. Furthermore, young musicians, not just sax players, had a model musician not only to inspire them, but to show them that they didn’t need to be a jock to be cool.

And that is what Michael Brecker did. He, like Coltrane, would routinely rip mind-blowing solos that were so intense and complex that it might overwhelm you, but were so impressive that you couldn’t help but smile and shake your head in disbelief when hearing them. And, like Coltrane, there was a suggestion that Brecker wasn’t a “ballad guy”, until of course, he recorded ballads, and put that rumor to rest. Let’s not forget, he is also credited with 14 Grammy awards.

There are still great tenor saxophonists recording today. Branford Marsalis might be the most artistic musician in jazz, and along side trumpeter Terrance Blanchard, Joshua Redman is easily the coolest musician in jazz, both in personality and sound.

But I remember during an interview I conducted with Joshua Redman, I asked him to play a game with me. I would name a saxophonist, and he would say the first word that came to his mind. When I sad “Sonny Rollins”, Redman said “Colossus”. When I said “Michael Brecker”, his response was over 100 words.

Brecker doesn’t have to be your favorite sax player. But give him a listen. Try Tumbleweed of the album Pilgrimage, perhaps the best jazz album of the last 20 years. Or find a live recording of Some Skunk Funk. My hope is that you will respond the same way my old roommate, a huge rap fan did after hearing Brecker. His only word, after picking his jaw up of the ground, was “wow”.

Below, a solo that earned him one of his Grammy Awards.

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die (301-320)

14 Nov

Here is another 20 to add to the list.

Remember that there is no ranking system here, and if you don’t see your favorite jazz album yet, it doesn’t mean it won’t show up.

Every week I will offer up twenty more, in no particular order and with no ranking system or common theme (other than jazz of course).

Hopefully these lists will inspire you to seek some of these albums out that perhaps you haven’t heard before, or revisit an old favorite. And as always, we want your thoughts on any or all of these albums. Either way, let’s get started with this week, and in no particular order, albums 301 through 320.

301. red clayRed Clay – Freddie Hubbard (CBS, 1970)

302. The Jody GrindThe Jody Grind – Horace Silver (Blue Note, 1966)

303. where were youWhere Were You? – Joey DeFrancesco (Columbia, 1990)

304. contrastsContrasts – Bucky & John Pizzarelli (Arbors, 1999)

305. sunday at the village vanguardSunday at the Village Vanguard – Bill Evans (Riverside/OJC, 1961)

306. Red AloneRed Alone – Red Garland (Original Jazz Classics, 1960)

307. hot fives vol 1Hot Fives, Vol. 1 (compilation) – Louis Armstrong (1925-26 recording dates, 1988 release date)

308. off the record the complete 1923 jazz band recordingsOff the Record: The Complete 1923 Jazz Band Recordings (compilation) – King Oliver (1923 recording tates, 2007 release date)

309. I rememberI Remember – Dianne Reeves (Blue Note, 1992)

310. Mood ChangesMood Changes – Grace Kelly (Pazz, 2008)

311. back at the chicken shackBack at the Chicken Shack – Jimmy Smith (Blue Note, 1960)

312. I can't help itI Can’t Help It – Betty Carter (GRP, 1961)

313. Benny Golson's New York SceneBenny Golson’s New York Scene – Benny Golson (1957)

314. anita sings the mostAnita Sings the Most – Anita O’ Day (Verve, 1957)

315. Krupa & RichKrupa and Rich – Gene Krupa (Verve, 1955)

316. just you just me, live in 1959Just You Just Me, Live in 1959 – Roy Eldridge and Coleman Hawkins (Stash, 1959)

317. yes, the bluesYes, The Blues – Clark Terry (Pablo, OJC, 1981)

318. seven steps to heaven (ray brown)Seven Steps to Heaven – Ray Brown (Telarc, 1995)

319. april in parisApril in Paris – Count Basie (Verve, 1956)

320. ReunionReunion – Paquito D’ Rivera with Arturo Sandoval (Messidor, 1990)

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die (1-20)

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die (281-300)

9 Nov

Here is another 20 to add to the list.

Remember that there is no ranking system here, and if you don’t see your favorite jazz album yet, it doesn’t mean it won’t show up.

Every week I will offer up twenty more, in no particular order and with no ranking system or common theme (other than jazz of course).

Hopefully these lists will inspire you to seek some of these albums out that perhaps you haven’t heard before, or revisit an old favorite. And as always, we want your thoughts on any or all of these albums. Either way, let’s get started with this week, and in no particular order, albums 281 through 300.

281. after hours with miss dAfter Hours with Miss D – Dinah Washington (1954)

282. Ellington uptownEllington Uptown – Duke Ellington (Sony, 1953)

283. Jam SessionJam Session – Clifford Brown (Emarcy, 1954)

284. blue roseBlue Rose – Rosemary Clooney (Columbia, 1956)

285. Brilliant CornersBrilliant Corners – Thelonious Monk (Riverside/OJC, 1957)

286. Cherokee (charlie barnet)Cherokee – Charlie Barnet (Bluebird, 1958)

287. Mingus RevisitedMingus Revisited – Charles Mingus (Emarcy, 1960)

288. Q Live in Paris Circa 1960Q Live in Paris Circa 1960 -Quincy Jones (Warner Bros., 1960)

289. Really Big!Really Big! – Jimmy Heath (Riverside/OJC, 1960)

290. Genius plus soul equals jazzGenius + Soul = Jazz – Ray Charles (DCC, 1960)

291. The Centaur and the PhoenixThe Centaur and the Phoenix – Yusef Lateef (Riverside/OJC, 1961)

292. Smooth as the windSmooth as the Wind – Blue Mitchell (Original Jazz Classics, 1961)

293. Down HomeDown Home – Sam Jones (Original Jazz Classics, 1962)

294. Letter from HomeLetter from Home – Eddie Jefferson (Riverside/OJC, 1962)

295. Hobo flatsHobo Flats – Jimmy Smith (Verve, 1963)

296. live at newport (mccoy tyner)Live at Newport – McCoy Tyner (Impulse!, 1963)

297. you better know it!!!You Better Know it!!! – Lionel Hampton (Japanese Import, 1964)

298. JoyrideJoyride – Stanley Turrentine (Blue Note, 1965)

299. the further adventures of jimmy and wesThe Further Adventures of Jimmy and Wes – Jimmy Smith and Wes Montgomery (Verve, 1966)

300. every day i have the blues (jimmy rushing)Every Day I have the Blues – Jimmy Rushing (Impulse!, 1967)

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die (261-280)

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die (241-260)

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die (221-240)

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die (201-220)

An Afternoon with Eldar

1 Nov

eldarLast Tuesday, I had the opportunity to interview 22 virtuoso pianist, Eldar, who also performed live during the interview. Eldar talked about his family’s move from Kyrgyzstan to Kansas City as a child, and how much he learned from that city’s veteran jazz musicians. Eldar also showcased his improvisational and compositional skills with three solo piano pieces, I Should Care, Insensitive and his own Vanilla Sky/Exposition.

Eldar turned out to be one of the nicest, most enthusiastic musicians that I have interviewed to date (especially for someone who had just flown in from Ireland the day before). And as you might expect, his playing was amazing.

eldarkevBelow is a video of his performance of a medley of his tunes Vanilla Sky/Exposition. To hear the entire interview and performance, click here.

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