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By: Louis Cepeda Divorce can be cruel. A friend of mine recently parted
with his wife of fifteen years, and she received their house, their new Honda, and his six thousand or so collection of jazz albums in the settlement. Ouch!
While lamenting his loses last week over a bottle of wellbalanced Oregon chardonnay, he was particularly somber about the collection, which had taken him almost twenty-five years to assemble. He began to reminisce, almost misty-eyed, about the Albums like Dakota Box sets like special albums and sets that we both had come to cherish and revere over the ten years of our friendship. L.A.", and Dexter Gordon's "Our Man In Paris". Staton's "The Late, Late Show", George Benson's "Weekend In Clifford Brown's "The Best of Clifford Brown on Blue Note", Art Tatum's "Small Group Sessions" and Duke Ellington's "Complete Carnegie Hall Concerts". Half way through our second bottle of chardonnay, we came to the conclusion that my friend would not only start a new collection, but he would start with some of the very best jazz had to offer. We then proceeded to argue, discuss, analyze, debate, and finally compromise on what we thought were ten great recordings any serious jazz collector needed to have in their collection. Maybe not the best of all time (that was experts to battle over), but certainly ten that represented the music in its highest form. We decided on the following ten.
THE SMITHSONIAN COLLECTION OF CLASSIC JAZZ This seven album package is without a doubt the best
collection of jazz ever put together.
From Jelly Roll Morton's
swinging "Black Bottom Stomp" to Sidney Bechet's hauntingly beautiful "Blue Horizon" to John Coltrane's inspiring version of "Alabama", this collection is flat out great music. same time, look no further. set. If you are looking for entertainment and a sense of jazz history at the In fact, nobody who considers himself or herself serious about jazz should be without this Awesome!!! Available on vinyl or cd format at Amazon.com.
PURE GOLD - DUKE ELLINGTON AND HIS ORCHESTRA Duke Ellington was the master of the Big Band sound, and
his orchestras at various times were the greatest bands ever put together. While Ellington made many, many great albums, "Pure Duke's Gold" captures him and his band at one of their peaks.
piano playing adds a prominent tonal color that provides the orchestra with a strong and forceful presence. The selections are Ellington standards like "Perdido", "Take The A Train" and "Solitude", but the renditions are fresh and absolutely marvelous. this one! If you can only afford one Ellington album, take You won't be disappointed. Available in vinyl only.
3. KIND OF BLUE - MILES DAVIS Many jazz aficionados consider this the greatest jazz album ever made, and it is certainly one of the most influential recordings of the modern jazz era. The session, led by Miles on trumpet, John Coltrane on tenor, Cannonball Adderley on alto,
and Bill Evans on piano, is a collection of first takes that are hauntingly beautiful. The playing is spontaneous and liberating, especially on tunes like "So What" and "All Blues". The individual soloists are lavish in their phrasing, giving the entire set a dynamic and melodic quality. This is truly a great album. Available on cd at most record stores. 4. THE COMPLETE LIONEL HAMPTON, 1937 TO 1941 - LIONEL HAMPTON Lionel Hampton was the first great jazz vibraphonist, and in 1937 he made a deal with RCA to record whenever he was in New York with whatever talent was available. This six record boxed set is a result of those sessions, and what a sensational, captivating picture of the era's top jazz soloists this is. Included in this incredible collection of great swinging, jumping music are legendary stars like Ben Webster, Charlie Christian, Cootie Williams, Johnny Hodges, Benny Carter, Harry James, Coleman Hawkins, Nat King Cole, Red Allen, Dizzy Gillespie and the list goes on and on. Jazz doesn't get much better than this. Available in vinyl and cd (Mosaic). 5. ELLA IN BERLIN - ELLA FITZGERALD This is a "live' album and one of those rare musical experience that we all should be grateful was captured on tape for us to enjoy and savor. that seem to go on forever. Here is Ella at her very best, full Although the album is famous for of energy and consistency, intertwining scatting with high notes Ella forgetting the words to "Mack The Knife" and improvising, her true genius comes in her unbelievable tour de force of "How High The Moon". This is great jazz singing, and Ella's spontaneity and ability to connect with the audience her joy and
exhilaration, makes listening to this historic session even more pleasurable. Make this one a "must buy" for your collection. Available in cd and on vinyl at Amazon.com. 6. CONCERT BY THE SEA - ERROL GARNER On a warm summer night in 1956, Garner, along with bassist Eddie Calhoun and drummer Denzel Best, sat down to do a concert in Carmel, California. The event turned out to be one of those This album captures Garner's magical moments in jazz history.
whimsical and effervescent nature at its peak, the head and soul of his piano style in a powerful, highly imaginative mode. Although he was a self-taught musician and never learn to read music, Garner was a master at keeping true to a melody while making jump and bop with enthusiasm. This album is indeed a classic. Available on cd or vinyl at Amazon.com. 7. THE BILLIE HOILDAY STORY VOLUMES I,II,III - BILLIE HOLIDAY These three double albums spotlight Billie early in her career, and demonstrate why she is consider by many the ultimate jazz singer. Using variations of pitch and nuances in her "Mean To Me" and the exotic "You Go To My The collection also articulation of words, Billie could transform a simple song into a unique work of art. Head" are just two examples of how Billie could turn ordinary words into an unforgettable experience. features some of the best jazz soloists of the time backing Billie. The sessions at various times include Teddy Wilson, Lester Young, and prominent members of both the Count Basie and Duke Ellington bands. If you need any evidence as to why Billie was such a legend, just sit down and listen to these gems. Available on vinyl only.
8. CLIFFORD BROWN AND STRINGS - CLIFFORD BROWN Trumpeter Clifford Brown's life was cut tragically short by a car accident at the age of twenty-five. Although his recordings encompass less than a decade of work, the virtuosity and lyricism of his sound are a reminder of how much we all lost with his death. In this album, Clifford in front of a nineClifford's superb ability for Probably the most romantic piece string section, creates some of the smoothest, most melodic jazz music ever recorded. "Stardust" and "Memories Of You". playing beautiful ballads is quite evident on such favorites as jazz album ever recorded. Available on cd. 9. THE VERY BEST OF BIRD - CHARLIE PARKER Someone once said, "If you have never heard Charlie Parker, the first experience could permanently change the way you think about music." This was certainly true of generations of musicians that followed him, and on this double album Parker shows why his innovations and powerful style made such impact on the music and the jazz scene in general. Parker could play ballads with the best of them, or improvise swing furiously at tempos his processors had never even attempted. "The Very Best Of Bird" is a testimony to his spontaneous, futile imagination and unrelenting intensity. and unjustly used. Today, the word "genius" is freely Parker was a true genius, and his enormous
influence on the music is still with us. Available on vinyl. 10. SATCH PLAYS FATS – LOUIS ARMSTRONG Armstrong was the first genius of jazz. More than anybody,
he transformed jazz from a rowdy, barroom music to an art form with his initial Hot Five and Hot Seven recordings in the twenties. Although Louis made many impressive albums after, the one that stands out is Satch Plays Fats. Louis takes on the music of Fats Waller, one of the first great entertainers and songwriters of jazz, and turns the vitality of his lyrics into a memorable experience. Like Fats, Armstrong injects humor and wit into songs like "Honeysuckle Rose” and "Ain't Misbehavin'", then turns more serious in his stunning version “What Did I Do to Be So Black and Blue.” This is really good stuff! Available in both vinyl and cd.
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