All newcomers have been exposed to the world of vinyl through songs. Few of us began collecting albums because we appreciate a deeper listening experience than downloads and earbuds.
Some because we think vinyl is superior for the reasons mentioned herein. Additionally, others because of the increasing market for vinyl albums.
If you ask any jazz enthusiast what are the greatest jazz albums, their response is bound to vary based on the day of the week.
Owing to the excessive number of amazing jazz releases, a comprehensive compilation of “best albums” might not be necessary.
This is where the professionals step in. And you should give the albums a listen. Either one of them or one or two to the most and display them in elegant vinyl record crates and boxes.
Jazz is more than filler noise you listen to while you pray to the dental gods to keep your teeth healthy. It’s also more than uptight people who want to tell you why one artist is better than another.
Miles Davis: Kind Of Blue
We chose this as our top-rated jazz album because it is timeless, transcendent and a masterpiece. It has been around for 60 years and still sounds just as cool and hip as it’s original creators wanted it to sound.
The session concluded that Miles’ all-star sextet featured saxophonist John Coltrane, as well as rising pianist Bill Evans.
The lovely ballad ‘Blue In Green’ is arranged by pianist Bill Evans with an impressionistic touch, while co-writers John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley deliver their respective fire on tenor and alto saxophone.
Wynton Kelly’s heavy-handed solo on ‘Freddie Freeloader’ is also noteworthy. Kelly replaced Evans on the piano chair in Davis’ working unit, and appears here only once.
John Coltrane: A Love Supreme
John Coltrane’s 1963 recording ‘A Love Supreme’ is highly influential and has been credited with the birth of sacred jazz. A Love Supreme created the 1st time an artist effectively explored the topic of spiritual issues through the vocabulary of jazz.
Coltrane performs the album title in a hypnotic way on the opening track of the album.
Under the direction of the legendary rhythm section of pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison, and drummer Elvin Jones, jazz legend John Coltrane maximizes the melodic potential of this exciting modal jazz.
Listening to this album is to be blessed by some of the most exquisite classical music ever written. No matter what your musical preference may be, everyone should hear and appreciate A Love Supreme — it’s one of those infallible records. Listen to it and you won’t find god but you’ll find John Coltrane, okay?
Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane: At Carnegie Hall
In 1957, an unreleased recording of two great jazz musicians sat for decades in a vault until it was discovered and released in 2005. The finding of the recordings at Carnegie Hall is of historical importance as it captures another great defining moment in John Coltrane’s career.
Trane develops a fast sweeping playing with intricate harmonic resonances by combining Monk’s harmonies and his own arpeggios in a carefully orchestrated manner. Trane would later refine his “sheets of sound” technique using this method.
The beauty of the performances in the record shows a multitude of different feelings, from sweet, passionate, melancholic, creepy, and cheerful.
The use of incongruity and pause in Monk’s distinctive style is perfectly curved off by Monk as the band adapts and fills in when necessary with polyrhythmic inflections and melodic embellishments.
The passing of the torch album was a historic moment with far-reaching consequences, but did not diminish the consistency of the shows.
Dave Brubeck Quartet: Time Out (Columbia)
Released in 1959, the year Ornette Coleman wrote his historic essay on free jazz, The Shape Of Jazz To Come, Dave Brubeck proved jazz doesn’t have to be wild and avant-garde to be influential and creative.
Dave Brubeck’s legendary quartet features Paul Desmond on alto sax while remaining able to incorporate a variety of unorthodox time signatures, while still allowing for an easy collection of tunes.
The best-known jazz album of 1959 focuses on experimenting with unconventional chord progressions and includes brief waltzes, although most of the music is in 4/4 time.
The composition “Blue Rondo à la Turk” is in 9/8 while “Pick Up Sticks” is in 6/4.
The song, Take Five, was composed by alto sax player Paul Desmond, a Dave Brubeck collaborator who explained that the goal was to sound like a “dry Martini.”
Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um
Ignacious bassist, musical leader, and composer Charles Mingus was known for his fiery personality and originality.
Whether consciously or not, Ellington’s work was strongly thematic, with his music frequently intended to evoke a specific individual or mood.
With his 1959 Columbia debut, which was dedicated to the saxophonist Lester Young, he contrasted a beautiful shimmering ballad with uptempo beats and inspired uproar from his fans. The recording also expressed criticism of US Gov. Orval Faubus who opposed desegregation in American schools.
Duke Ellington: Ellington at Newport
Unlike most of the artists on this list, Duke Ellington was not at the height of his artistic abilities when this album was made.
Jazz orchestras continued to be replaced by small combos at the forefront of the genre, however at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival Duke began a revival by revamping his career.
Ellington’s band explores the progression of music, beginning with New Orleans jazz, then goes on to Kansas City swing as well as some bebop inventiveness. Beautiful and lush compositions are played, sometimes in a harmony and often in counterpoint.
Instruments drive the music forward by playing complex and varied melodies, or by adding harmonies that complement the melody. An enjoyable and entertaining listen for any jazz enthusiast, Ellington at Newport is an essential jazz album that needs to be in your catalog.
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