Jazz Store


    The albums below are recommended as an introduction to jazz, and are generally in order of what would most likely to be palatable to a new fan - to the somewhat more weird.  Most of these recordings date from the mid '50s to the early 60s, the golden age of jazz.  Jazz is difficult to describe, so I won't waste your time with a lot of commentary.  Just listen to the samples.


"Light" or At Least Relatively Light, which isn't the same thing as dull and un-emotional.

Erroll Garner - Concert by the Sea  The audio is admittedly poor by modern standards, but the concert was too good to keep in the vaults.


Dave Brubeck - Jazz Goes to College  Dave was seriously hip in the 1950s, and to anyone who isn't swayed by fads, he still is.  Check out "Le Souk" and "Balcony Rock".


Dave Brubeck - The Great Concerts  My favorite Brubeck album.  The best tracks were at Carnegie Hall, with the whole band glad to be over an extended world tour, and with a drummer taking it fast to get it over with.  The result is a fast paced swing-fest.  Listen to "Take Five", my favorite version of what ties as my favorite song.


Thelonious Monk, The Composer.  The solo recordings are frankly not interesting, but "Straight, No Chaser", "Bemsha Swing", and "Blue Monk" make the album well worth the price.



Big Band

Woody Herman - The Thundering Herds 1945-47  The war was over and Woody Herman was as happy and triumphant as anyone.


Duke Ellington - Ellington at Newport  Despite his being a jazz legend, I haven't enjoyed much of his work.  This is the exception.  Struggling to compete with bebop, he changed with the times and gained popularity.  Paul Gonsalves' fevered solo in   "Diminuendo in Blue" and "Crescendo in Blue" is rightly considered to be one of the best in jazz history.



Miles Davis - Everyone's favorite profane drug addicted wife beater.

Miles Davis - Porgy and Bess  Miles made three very good classical/jazz big band albums with Gil Evans.  This one is probably the best.  Listen to "Summertime".


Miles Davis - Kind of Blue  Miles' most famous album, entirely of modal jazz.  "So What" is tied with Brubeck's "Take Five" for my favorite song.


Miles Davis - Live at the Blackhawk, Friday Night  These two albums give an excellent compilation of Miles's work near the peak of his career.
Miles Davis - Live at the Blackhawk, Saturday Night



Miles Davis - The Complete Concert 1964  Made just before his unfortunate  flirtation with free jazz, this album is another example of Miles at near peak.  The band was angry because Miles forced them into a free fund raising concert for the NAACP, and it led to inspired playing.



A Little More Excited and Weird

John Coltrane - My Favorite Things  The title song alone makes the album worth the price.


John Coltrane - A Love Supreme  Coltrane had his problems with drugs but turned his life around.  In this "gospel" album, he shows his progression.


John Coltrane - Africa/Brass  A rare combination with a big band, the effect is powerful.



Charles Mingus - Mingus Ah Um  Mingus was an oddity even by jazz standards.  Hating white men, he married a white woman.  Full of anger, he would sniff pepper to keep himself from beating up his band.  This is his most palatable work.  I think Bill Cosby likes to use some of these tracks. 


Charles Mingus - Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus  He's getting angrier.  Listen to "II BS", also known as the Haitian Fight Song.  Oh yeah, he's angry.


Charles Mingus - The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady  At his angriest - specifically angry at whitey.  The album features a gradual increase in anger and intensity with brief rests.  This is beautiful - but not pretty. 



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