Saturday, January 13, 2007

Best Jazz Albums

I have been to some interesting jazz shows with A over the years:
McCoy Tyner
Ahmad Jamal
Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter together.
Brad Mehldau, who made my head hurt. I sat in One World Theater for an hour before I could get a handle on anything he was doing . . . until I heard the melody from "It Might As Well Be Spring."

We have a lot of jazz. At least half of our cds are jazz, and 575 songs on my iTunes. We've converted only a small portion over so far. (We're waiting until we buy a mini with a huge hard drive to rip the remainder in lossless.)

You would think that the ranking of Best Jazz Albums, therefore, would be a matter of controversy. Not so, for the top 2, at least.

1. Miles Davis, Kind of Blue. 1959

Absolutely no one could disagree with this. Not only is it the best jazz album ever, it has been rated many times by many, many critics as the best album of the 20th century. Period.

The musicians were at the top of their respective games - Miles Davis, Bill Evans, John Coltrane. Cannonball Adderly,Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb. Miles handed out the music as they began to record, so with no rehersals, they launched in and magic happened. The entire album is vibrant and alive.

Geeky Musette Fact: "So What" has been my ringtone for 2 years. (It replaced "Hip Hop" by Dead Prez.)

2. The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Time Out. 1959

This album is extremely technical and "tricky" in a way that would normally be inaccessible. Each song is written in a different and often unusual time signature: 9/8, etc.

The beauty of the album is that for all of its technical prowess, it's a remarkably listenable album. It was wildly popular when it was released, and it still feels as fresh today. Paul Desmond on saxophone is superb. Each song, on its own, is excellent, and as a whole, the album is breathtaking.

My favorite songs are the classic "Time Out" and "Blue Rondo A La Turk." A's favorite is Kathy's Waltz.

3. Stan Getz, Getz/Gilberto. 1964

The Brazilian samba album created an international sensation and won grammys for Album of the year and Song of the year.

It features "Girl from Ipanema" and "Desafinado," among other classics.

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