Tag Archives: best jazz songs of all time

The Jazz 100 (Part 5 – Final Thoughts)

22 Feb

I want to wrap up this little series on the Jazz 100 with my own personal thoughts on the list and some of the comments and questions left by listeners/readers.

There were some thoughts that kept popping up in readers posts. One was “Why didn’t (insert song here) show up on the list?”. Another is “My list would look completely different from this one.” A third was “There is no way that Take Five should be number 1.”

Let me start by saying that my own personal list would also look a bit different from this one. I’ve seen emails and posts from casual listeners to the very jazz educated saying the exact same thing.

Everybody’s list is going to look different. The great thing about this list is that it took the input of about 2,800 different people, and I am not aware of any jazz list out there that has asked and received its construction from such a wide variety of people.

Yes, it was a popularity contest, just like anything else is when you open votes up to the public. That is why you see a song like Take Five at the top. It was extremely popular when it was released, is still in heavy rotation on most jazz radio stations, and is one of the few albums still found in the ever-shrinking “jazz section” at large book and music stores.

I will also say that while I was the one who compiled the votes, I also submitted my vote, and only one song I voted for made the list (Red Clay).

Does it make me angry? No, and for several reasons. The main reason is that no one asked me to make my own list. Therefore why should my own personal musical tastes be reflected throughout the list? Because I host a radio show and write a blog? Therefore I know better and have better taste than the casual listener?

This wasn’t a list offered up to only “jazz experts.” People from all ages and backgrounds voted, and that is why I think this list is unique.

Many people have also asked me what song(s) or artist(s) I think should have been on this list that didn’t make it.

I’ve also been pretty quiet about this one, because again, this isn’t MY personal list.

That being said, I can say that I assumed “A Child is Born” by Thad Jones would make it. I always assumed it was one of the most beautiful ballads in jazz and that my opinion on that was more widely shared. I also figured correctly that females would dominate the vocal recordings that made the list, but I assumed that there would be more of a variety of female vocalists that made the list than what we ended up seeing.

A lot of people also commented on the lack of recent jazz recordings that made the list. While I WISH there were more recent recordings on the Jazz 100, I also understand why there isn’t. Voters had 100 years of jazz to choose from, and in what is inevitably a popularity contest that only allows your favorite five to be submitted, I was not surprised to see the masses choose Miles Davis over Terence Blanchard in a all-time jazz popularity contest (for better or for worse).

Angry voters were in large part angry because their song didn’t make the list, therefore they felt they weren’t represented and their expertise is somehow put into question by the other 2,799 voters.

To those unhappy voters: don’t take it personally. In fact, have fun with it and discuss it. That is what opinion-based lists are for, typically. In fact, let it inspire you to create and post your own list, for comparison. It will allow you to listen to a ton of great music that you enjoy at the same time!

Finally, people have asked me what songs would be on MY list. While I am going to choose to not create a top 100 list (mainly because I feel like it could drastically change by next week), I will share some of my favorites that would always be on my list, that didn’t make our Jazz 100.

A Child is Born – Thad Jones/Mel Lewis

I Remember Clifford (A variety of versions)

A Mis Abuelos – Arturo Sandoval

Tumbleweed – Michael Brecker

Straight Life – Freddie Hubbard

Thanks again for all of your feedback, and keep it coming!

The Jazz 100 (Part 4 – Responding to listener questions and comments)

The Jazz 100 (Part 3 – Thoughts from Robin Lloyd and Abe Beeson

The Jazz 100 (Part 2 – An Audio Discussion with KPLU’s Kirsten Kendrick)

The Jazz 100 (Part 1 – The List)

The Jazz 100 (Part 4 – Responding to listener questions and comments)

21 Feb

So now you’ve seen the list of the Jazz 100, heard some basic analysis, and have received the opinions of jazz hosts Robin Lloyd and Abe Beeson.

Today, I will respond to listener questions and comments regarding the Jazz 100. Since I will be offering my opinion and final thoughts tomorrow, I will do my best to keep my answers as straight ahead as possible today.

From “Aspicdandy”: “Nothing by Sun Ra??? Are you crazy? This is a lightweight puffpiece of The Usual Suspects that gets played over and over…About as daring as a grilled cheese sandwich.”

Kevin: Sun Ra had a couple of songs nominated, but I don’t recall any of the 2,800 voters voting for a particular Sun Ra song more than once or twice off the top of my head.

From “DB in Bremerton”: “Amen – and no Stan Kenton? No Maynard Ferguson? (For you kids, look them up…)”

Kevin: Stan Kenton actually came pretty close, and there were several nominations for Maynard. Unfortunately, just not enough support among voters for a particular Maynard track.

From: “David Stevenson”: “ahem ahem….this is a Seattle-based jazz station who did this? Where the heck is mention of anything by Django!?! Come’on folks, Seattle jazzers should know better!”

Kevin: The voting was in fact posted on KPLU.org, but it was also posted on a variety of other websites, including npr.org. My best guess is that Puget Sound voters account for maybe 30% of the vote.

From: “John Leffler”: No Pat Metheny, with 15 Grammy Awards for jazz?

Kevin: Pat Metheny, as well as other “modern day” jazz musicians (such as Wynton Marsalis and Michael Brecker) received a large amount of nominations for songs on this list. In most cases, however, it appeared that voters did not agree on what the “definitive” Metheny tune(s) might be. As a result, no one particular song received enough support to make it into the top 100.

From “T. Camajani”: Take Five over Stolen Moments? WTF?

Kevin: Take Five was an overwhelming choice from every website that received votes. It actually had twice as many votes as the number two song, “So What.”

From “Victor Hong”: This is a pretty good list. However, I think there was a problem with the methodology. We were asked to vote for the top 5 songs, from which they then compiled a list of the top 100. Unfortunately, I think that causes a lot of repeat voting for the songs most people would consider in the top 10. It would have been more accurate to ask us to list our top 20 choices.

Kevin: You make a very good point, Victor. I think it is very true that I would have seen a lot more variety of songs if people were allowed to pick more. I’ll use a sports analogy: If you are asked to pick the top five basketball players of all time, its likely that Michael Jordan and Larry Bird are going to be repeated over and over, but if you are allowed to pick your top 20, you might see a greater variety of players getting more votes. We did see over 1,500 different songs nominated, but it is true that if people could pick more than 5, some songs on the fringe of the list might have received more support.

From “Riffster”: I do have to wonder how much the recent attention to Brubeck’s 90th birthday influenced the list. (I’m not saying he shouldn’t be on there, but he might not have been first.)

Kevin: Good thought. Take Five was the first jazz single to sell a million copies, and Time Out is typically one of two or three albums that starts most jazz collections, even today. So while his birthday did get a lot of attention, I still feel that either way Take Five would have had a strong showing.

From “Mike Harmanos”: Not even any Weather Report on this list.

Kevin: Birdland, by Weather Report actually came in at #8.

The Jazz 100 (Part 3 – Thoughts from Robin Lloyd and Abe Beeson

The Jazz 100 (Part 2 – An Audio Discussion with KPLU’s Kirsten Kendrick)

The Jazz 100 (Part 1 – The List)

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