Is there a name for the kind of jazz I like?

I’ve been listening to a jazz station online. I really like acoustic jazz from the 50s and 60s. I don’t like jazz with any electric instruments and I really don’t like fusion.

The jazz I like sounds a little more structured (if that makes sense) and I like artists such as Charlie Parker, Brubeck, and early Monk. I really enjoy some Miles Davis’ but his later albums don’t do it for me, they kind of approach background elevator music.

Is there a name for the type of jazz I describe? Can anyone recomend some albums and artists beyond the ones I list that I might like.


Sounds like you like jazz standards. I can’t think of a name for something that broad, the fringes are much easier to pick out i.e. bop, hot jazz, fusion. Try to find some reccomendations.

Bird, early Miles and Monk are all bebop. Sounds to me you probably like bebop and the styles immediately following, i.e. Hard Bop (like Art Blakey, Horace Silver, Cannonball Adderley, Miles, early Coltrane) and West Coast jazz (Brubeck, Getz, Paul Desmond). Also check Charles Mingus; he tends to split opinion but informed opinion (viz. anyone who agrees with me) treats him as a composing genius, on a level with Beethoven and the like. Hell of a bass player too

Thanks all. Does anyone know if I-tunes has a decent jazz collection? I’m thinking about getting an Ipod.

I can’t speak for I-Tunes but Real Rhapsody has quite an extensive jazz collection. I refer to it often.

And I’ve gotten some exelllent jazz off of eMusic. Any music source will work with your iPod.

Over and above the rather narrow sector of Modern Jazz (to distinguish from Swing and that hard-to-name-accurately Original, Traditional (Trad), New Orleans or even “Dixieland” category) called BeBop or just Bop, there are the Cool School pioneered by Miles Davis and Gil Evans (including Bill Evans), Hard Bop (covered in an earlier post), Funk, Bossa Nova, Fusion, Avant Garde, “Free Jazz” and Hip Hop, along with others I may have forgotten or repressed. But from the sound of your post I’d say the attempt at a broad ranging term that would include your preferences would be “Straight Ahead Jazz” or “Mainstream Jazz.” (This is rather odd in an historic sense since Mainstream in the 40’s and 50’s would have excluded all these sub-genres in favor of Swing and Big Band.)

If you’re not able to find music purveyors who categorize things as broadly as Straight Ahead or Mainstream, you might profit from spending several days or weeks listening to JAZZ WITH BOB PARLOCHA on whichever station nearest you carries his show or, failing that, try online at WMOT in the evenings from 9 (central) to early morning. Parlocha is a guru and one of the most knowledgeable extant DJ’s going. His show features stuff as old as the 50’s (maybe a few even older) and stuff as new as last week. It’s a potpourri of styles and artists and some damn fine listening behind whatever you’d be doing in the late night hours. His patter will get you up to speed on who’s hot and who’s about to be a big name.

Another favorite online station for me is KKJZ which features a bit more modern (later decades) and quite a bit more Latin flavored jazz. I’m usually listening to WMOT or KKJZ when I’m online.

Let me know if any of these shows do anything good for you and I may be able to channel your preferences even closer than these broad terms.

I hadn’t looked at iTunes for jazz till just now. Looks like they have a pretty decent collection. Also, you might find the jazz thread in ultrafilter’s Essential Music Library project helpful.

Another technique I use: go to the NPR website and find a music story I like and then explore the links. Went back and re-heard this Edgar Meyer story from last Sunday (while it’s not the style you’re talking about here, I find the music completely mindblowing; everyone should go listen to it :smiley: ) which led me to an interview with him and Béla Fleck, which also contained amazing music. Chances are that they’ve done stories about someone you already like and those stories will have links to others, etc. etc. etc. I also sometimes go look for some of the albums on amazon, then add them to my wish list and then look at the other items that come up under the “people who bought the music you just added also bought…” links. I’ve spent more than an hour just this morning exploring music possibilities.

The celebrity playlists on iTunes sometimes have interesting stuff in them too (look at the ones off the Jazz page).

I second the Jazz with Bob Parlocha recommendation. They don’t broadcast it locally anymore, but when they did, it was great. (Thanks for the reminder Zeldar.) One of our local NPR stations, WCBE has jazz programming Sunday afternoons/evenings. They play a nice variety of well-known as well as unknown artists. I especially like Jazz Sunday (3-6 p.m. Eastern Time) and Blue Collar (6-9 p.m.). I’m pretty sure both shows publish their playlists if the show’s time aren’t practical for you.


Sure. This is really simple.

Just scarf up every “Blue Note” recording (prior to anything recorded after 1990*)* you can lay your hands on. It’ll give you just about all the Monk, Early Miles, Mobley, Blakey, Early Coltrane, Lee Morgan, Blue Mitchell, Lou Donaldson, Horace Silver, Grant Green, Jimmy Smith, et al you can handle.

Their recent **Rudy van Gelder ** re-master/re-issue program is not to be missed. Just get all of it! :slight_smile:

If you’re not adverse to taking out a second mortgage, or auctioning off your wife and kids on ebaY, you may also want to check out True Blue Music and the “Mosaic Recordings” re-issue program they offer, in addition to most of the Blue Note and Fantasy Records catalogues.

At this point, you’ll be so thoroughly entranced by all the artistry and sounds, you’ll just call it “jazz”, and leave it at that.

*(**And as an added bonus, by doing it this way, you won’t get stuck with any Diana Krall, or any other “Smooth Jazz” that may have infested their catalogue in their later years.) * :smiley:

I disagree with Barely Adequate…the Blue Note albums from the late '50s lean heavily toward “blowing sessions,” which are the standard hard bop free-for-alls.

If you like more “structured” acoustic 1950s jazz, look into Ted Gioia’s book, West Coast Jazz.

The “cool jazz” school, which ostensibly started with the Miles Davis nine-piece Capitol band of 1949, featured strong arrangements for the “heads” before leading into groovin’ improv.

Riverside has re-issued several classic West Coast style albums. Try anything from Jimmy Giuffre, Hampton Hawes, or the classic stuff from the Lighthouse club.

Thanks again all. I only get limited connectivity here in B-dad, but when I go home on leave I will definitley check out some of these links. It’s weird, but with jazz I really like what I like and I really hate what I hate if you know what I mean.

I’m not normally one to recommend “best of” CD’s, but the “Best of Blue Note 1” and “Best of Blue Note 2” collections are superb. They cover many of the great recordings by the giants - Coltrane, Blakey, Jimmy Smith, Kenny Burrell, Sonny Rollins, Cannonball Adderley, etc. Quite a few of the essentials (including my personal fave, “Song For My Father” by Horace Silver.) They’ll give you a good overview and a pretty decent idea of where to go from there.

I know it’s a bit old school,. but there’s a fairly good collection of jazz found at my local library. :wink:

Oh Yeah! You won’t find any more passionate, heated discussions than you will among hard-core jazz fans.

I agree with Ike’s recommendations on the “West Coast (cool) vs East Coast (hard bop)” schools of 50s-60s jazz. The Ted Gioia book is essential, regardless of your particular leanings toward one style over the other.

For example, I tend toward the Miles’ later works on Prestige (Coolin’, Relaxin’, Smokin’, etc), rather than the “Birth of the Cool”. I like the Brubeck-Desmond collaborations on Fantasy (Jazz at Oberlin, and at College of the Pacific) much better than his earliest stuff with Bill Smith, or the whole “Take Five” phenomenon. But then, admittedly, I was there more for the Desmond, rather than the Brubeck as such.

I’m by no means dismissing the whole of the West Coast genre though. I like Hampton Hawes and Gerry Mulligan in particular, along with much of Howard Rumsey’s “Lighthouse” stuff. The Dave Pell Octet… not so much. There are a half-dozen trumpet players that I prefer over Shorty Rogers, but the Shelly Manne stuff I can find intriguing.

One can get too cool for the room.

Labeling just doesn’t work with jazz…

I agree with the label, “straight-ahead”; while it certainly makes sense to differentiate between cool and a harder NY sound, more blowing, and such, it might be more helpful to think about jazz in terms of its level of organization or structure. Tightly-plotted, intricate small-to-larger group arrangements like those associated with Bob Brookmeyer, Jimmy Giuffre, Gil Evans, et al. might tend to one end of the scale, where projects like Jimmy Raney’s “A” and Bill Evans “Conversations With Myself” might be organized to a similar degree, differently.

I don’t know; I think the only way to learn what you like is to listen as widely as you possibly can. There are only a small handful of competent jazz critics – until you know who’s who, I wouldn’t really put much stock in books/liner notes unless you’re simply mining the terrain for random suggestions.

If it were me in a similar position, I’d ignore the very vague notion of structure as it’s been deployed here and work hard at trying to figure out what constitutes a good tune and a good solo.

I think you’ll find that, among straight-ahead improvisers of the 1950s and late 1940s, and well into the 1960s, the solos can be incredibly logical and convincing regardless of subgenre. Certainly Charlie Parker might have taken one chorus (sometimes two) – but they were incredibly coherent. Bud Powell’s solos had the same quality, and were of the same quality as well. Jimmy Raney, Chet Baker, Elmo Hope, Tal Farlow, McCoy Tyner (as on the album “Coltrane’s Sound”), Wes Montgomery – these and about any other jazz master could create incredibly logical solos independent of a specific arrangement. If you transcribe some of the best solos, you might think you were looking at a composition in itself, and not something improvised off-handedly.

Dig Sonny Rollins’ album Saxophone Colossus for some excellent examples of this.