your jazz recommendations solicited

I don’t listen to all that much jazz and I want to start.

Any SDMB-ers have good recommendations here that I should check out?

I tend to prefer instrumental to vocal, but good vocal stuff is OK sometimes (tend to prefer female vocalists to male). I’m a big fan of piano music of all genres but know just about nothing about jazz piano.

What should I check out?

peas on earth

Dave Brubeck’s (sp?) album Take Five is a good piano jazz standard. (It’s actually a quartet, also employing a bass, sax, and drums.) It’s kind of unusual in that the songs do not have the typical 2 or 4 beat “feel”.

You could also pick up something by Vince Garibaldi. He’s well known for doing the jazz piano stuff you hear on the old Peanuts TV specials.

I recently discovered David Benoit, and so far I’d have to give him a “thumbs-up”.

One of my favorite albums is Heavy Weather by the jazz fusion band Weather Report. Josef Zaminul is the leader and keyboard player, though he pretty much sticks to synthesizer. It’s jazz with rock and latin influences.

Remember, there are as many different styles of jazz as there are of rock. Keep an open mind. If there are any jazz radio stations in your area, give them a listen. It shouldn’t take long to begin identifying bands and performers that you like.

“It is impossible to experience one’s own death objectively and still carry a tune.” – Woody Allen from Getting Even

Harry Connick Jr’s albums are pretty good,but some of them are more funk or big band. I would suggest:
If you want some singing:
Lofty’s Roach Souffle

Just add water, it makes it’s own sauce!

Rick Braun is good instrumental jazz, and as far as female singers go, try Diana Krall.
Harry Connick Jr, is a sure bet too.
Experiment, and listen different collections, try your local public library, they usually have a selection of CD’s.


If you like the more didactic jazz styles, try John Coltrane. He is quite awesome.


Move over Satan. :wink: Now there’s something meatier.

Oooof. This is worse that the “Suggest Blues Records for Me” thread. There’s just SO MUCH, and of so many different styles.

Hell. (holding nose and leaping into the ice cold water) Miles Davis’ KIND OF BLUE. Nearly EVERYONE lists this as their all-time favorite jazz album, amateurs and congnoscenti alike. Smoky, late-night modal instrumentals, c. 1959. Miles on (mostly muted) trumpet, John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley on saxes, Wynton Kelly or Bill Evans on the piano, Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb rounding out the rhythm section.

If you’re into traditional, but don’t want to put up with the “dated” sounds of 1920s recording technology, try LOUIS ARMSTRONG PLAYS W.C. HANDY, one of Satchmo’s best studio records of the 1950s. If you don’t mind the 1920s fuzz and want to hear Louis at his best, go for the HOT FIVE or HOT SEVEN recordings.

To balance this on the bebop side, an interesting one-disc choice might be THE QUINTET/JAZZ AT MASSEY HALL. One of the most hyped jazz events ever. A Toronto show from 1953 featuring Charlie Parker (Bird), Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Charles Mingus, and Max Roach. The sound quality’s not the best, but Bird and Diz are at the peak of their strengths.

If you like piano best, I agree with the earlier post about Dave Brubeck’s TAKE FIVE. It’s a good place to start, but there are lots of ivery-ticklers that blow DB out of the water. Like Bill Evans…try SUNDAY AT THE VILLAGE VANGUARD (1961). And Thelonious Monk, MONK’S MUSIC (a great sextet date from 1957). More idiosyncratic (and a LOT less famous) are Phineas Newborn (A WORLD OF PIANO, 1961) and Herbie Nichols (anything you can find…there’s not much in print).

Phew. I could do this all day.

– Uke, reminding us all that Music Is Hard Work.

bantmof: What kind of music do you actively listen to, and name some specific faves, please. This will give us an idea as to what facets you might find appealing out of jazz that you do what you are listening to.

Yer pal,

Well, I prefer pre-1930 jazz, which most people dismiss as “pop.” Paul Whiteman, Wilbur G. Sweatman, James Reese Europe; vocals by Libby Holman, The Rhythm Boys.

None o’ that modern cacaphony for mine!

The artists you cite are not necessarily “pop,” Flora, but, to use the 1920s argot, “sweet jazz” (string-and-saxophone based dance music) as opposed to “hot jazz” (heavy rhythm, dirty brass and sax smears).

Back in the '20s it was cool to be hot; cool didn’t get to be cool until a couple decades later.

Miles Davis, Kind of Blue and Bitches Brew
John Coltrane, A Love Supreme

Three of the most popular jazz albums of the century, and all for good reason. They’re all also available in nice re-issued CD versions (although I still like to digest Bitches Brew one “side” at a time).

As a recent jazz devotee myself, I wish you luck.

Dr. J

Alright, this is a broad sweeping generalization, but I’m assuming you’re young and haven’t listened to jazz in the past. Therefore, it might be a good idea to cross over to jazz with a group that features a jazz vocalist. That way you can concentrate on the words and begin to learn jazz progressions and techniques without having to figure out what the musicians are doing.

I’m only saying this because, in my experience, a lot of people find instrumental jazz solos long and boring. I think that once one learns some of the songs (words make it easy) and hears them played many different ways, one begins to appreciate the diversity, fluidity and freedom jazz allows.

Jazz vocal albums that truly rock:

John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman. Hands down, the best vocal album ever recorded. Will change your life.

Billie Holiday. Anything (even her later stuff where her voice got all scratchy). Great interpretations, amazing voice.

Diana Krall. “Love Scenes”. No drums, beautiful voice, great songs, current artist.

Frank Sinatra. Love him or hate him, he did all the great songs and has a nice swing

Kevin Mahogany. Current artist who scats in pretty much every song. I really got into this CD

Ella Fitzgerald. My favorite female vocalist. Her songbooks are nice and the albums with her and Louis Armstrong are classic.

These are just off the top of my head. Hope it helps.

BTW, if you’re looking for instrumentals, I would go with Ike’s suggestion of Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue” or John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps”.

Ooooh, all these John Coltrane recommendations…let’s give this virgin a puff of reefer before we start him mainlining!

Melanie’s suggestion of a vocalist to help the medicine go down is an excellent one! Let me add to her choices SARAH VAUGHAN WITH CLIFFORD BROWN, a 1954 date with the divine Sassy (possible the MOST respected-by-the-boys-in-the-band vocalist) backed by trumpet, tenor sax, and flute – all excellent soloists – and a hot rhythm section. Vaughan’s at her best here, 'specially on the opening “Lullaby of Birdland,” and there’s lots of great instrumental work betwixt the singing.


Ooooo, I looooove Sarah Vaughn! Great suggestion, Ike. I also thought of another smoothy: Chet Baker

I didn’t see Oscar Peterson mentioned here. One of the truly great jazz pianists. I really enjoy a lot of the artists listed: John Coltrane, Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis, etc. And don’t forget Thelonius Monk.

“The problem with the world is that everyone is a few drinks behind.” - Humphrey Bogart

Maynard Ferguson…awesome but hard to find.

This topic has really jazzed me (sorry, I know, pathetic).

If you’re looking for something that no one else listens to and follows the spirit of Ornette Coleman, I would recommend Charles Gayle. He’s a sax player who was homeless for most of his adult life. He played sax in the subways and finally some cats from the Knitting Factory recorded him. He’s a super religious fanatic and at his live shows, tends to spout Bible verses. Although I don’t agree with his views, his spiritual energy translates beautifully in his screetching, howling saxophone. I had the pleasure of buying him a beer at one of his shows and found out he has a great sense of humor and is very humble. Refreshing.

If you like blues, Charles Mingus is a great jazz musician who uses a lot of blues and gospel influence in his clever songs. I dig the songs that he composes with a round format - one instrument starts out playing the same thing, then another joins in playing another riff, then a third, etc. Soon it turns into a big noise spectacular explosion. Two examples are “E’s Flat, Ah’s Flat, Too” and “Moanin’”.

I’d like to add a recent vocalist to the list.

Karrin Allyson is great. Good pipes, great scat singer, great tune selection, and a real musician. She also has great sidemen and let’s `em solo. Here recent “Daydream” album is very nice. She does a rendition of Bird’s “Donna Lee,” a tribute to Monk, and some Jobim, as well as some pretty novel arrangements of standard tunes (e.g., an arrangement of “Show Me” from My Fair Lady done in 5/4 time).

Great stuff, jazz fans!

“Its fiction, but all the facts are true!”

Donj, Maynard’s been traveling lately as the leader of a brass-heavy ensemble called “Big Bop Nouveau.” Their recent releases are easily available.

Also, the Contemporary label has been re-releasing some excellent discs of West Coast jazz from the '50s, including a lot of stuff from Howard Rumsey’s Lighthouse All-Stars…Ferguson could often be found in the trumpet chair, if Shorty Rogers or Conte Candoli wasn’t in it already. The Lighthouse boys also included some other hot players: Frank Rosolino on 'bone, Jimmy Giuffre, Bud Shank, and Bob Cooper on saxes, Russ Freeman and Shelley Manne in the rhythm section. This is whiteboy jazz at its best.

Melanie: Good call on Mingus, but he should be careful; some of those recordings will seem pretty scary to untrained ears. On the other hand, the album AH UM is a great place to start Mingusing. It’s got “Fables of Faubus,” “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat,” and other classics…

…say, are you really a saxophone player in Park Slope? So am I! Tenor, here; what’s YOUR axe?


Without a doubt, John Stockton and Karl Malone.
Oh. . . . Not THAT Jazz.


If ignorance is bliss, you must be orgasmic.

Whoa, Ike! Are you the sax player that lives right above me? THAT would be bizarre. I play Tenor as well. Say, do you give lessons in Manhattan or Park Slope? Or know anyone who does? I played bass for 12 years and switched to the sax a year and a half ago (on account of my new teeth and that the saxophone is the best instrument in the world). I can play ok, but definetly need some guidance.

To the rest: sorry for the diversion.