Following up to part I of my 25 Essential Jazz albums, here are the entries 13-25. Again no ranking implied in the numbers, this is just a list of albums I think everybody should have heard, and to give you a good understanding of what it is I really like in Jazz.
13. Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers – Moanin (1958)
Well, my entire mini-series on the Jazz Messengers’s spin-offs wouldn’t have been a series without this group. I’m not sure why I haven’t written about this album yet, but I eventually will.
14: Ella Fitzgerald – Clap Hands – Here Comes Charlie (1961)
Ella again is somebody with so many good albums to choose from. Just to give an example, the Ella and Louis series has been recommended everywhere, and I concur. The live recording Mack the Knife or her many songbook releases are also excellent.
So why this one? Well, purely subjectively again, it was one of my first I ever owned, and it’s got the outstanding 5 star track Cry Me A River.
15. Wayne Shorter: Adam’s Apple (1966)
16. Duke Ellington: Money Jungle (1963)
Duke Ellington obviously had a huge influence on Jazz, also as a composer of many standards. I’m not really into big band, but luckily he also did some albums with smaller crews, like the famous Duke Ellington & John Coltrane album, or this one, with Charles Mingus and Max Roach. I mean, what could go wrong if you combine these giants? This by the way has the best version ever of the great standard Caravan.
17. Stan Getz and Kenny Baron – People Time (1992)
This is another example of a large box of “last concerts” recordings similar to the Bill Evans Consecration I wrote about in Part I of this post. This concert was recorded in Copenhagen very close to Stan Getz too early death.
Often duos in Jazz lack something, not here. This one is just beautiful, and a pleasure to listen to. If you don’t want to go for the full 6 box Complete Recordings, there’s also a 2 box compilation.
18. Oliver Nelson: The Blues And The Abstract Truth (1961)
Oliver Nelson in a way is the One Hit Wonder of jazz. Or could you name any other album from him (with the possible exception of less known and less interesting part II follow-up with a different cast)?
In any case, just look at the line-up here, Evans!, Chambers!, Hubbard!, Haynes!, Dolphy! and you know you’re onto something. One of my favorite Impulse albums.
19. Oscar Peterson: Exclusively For My Friends (1968)
You could nominate many Oscar Peterson albums here. He is really one of the best pianists of all times. However, this set recorded in the cosy Black Forest in the personal studio of Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer, is probably one of the best, and most intimate. This album has recently been remastered from the original tapes.
20. Ray Brown: Summer Wind – Life At The Loa
You cannot talk about Oscar Peterson without mentioning Ray Brown, his legendary bassist. Ray has recorded several outstanding albums with the combo of Jeff Hamilton on drums and Gene Harris on the piano. To quote one of the tracks: It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing. Well, this one’s got plenty.
21. Diana Krall: The Girl In The Other Room
Talking about Jeff Hamilton, he also plays on this one.
But now you may ask me: what, 25 albums, only 3 vocal jazz among them, and you chose Krall vs. all the other alternatives? Well yes, you could argue about the choice of Krall in general, but not this album. This to me is the best she ever did, by far. The influence of her husband, Elvis Costello, on the songs is clearly there, and this is the first time in my opinion that she truly moves beyond the (very high-class) cocktail bar jazz of her previous albums. Unfortunately, she’s never again reached this level of musical depth since (I personally didn’t like her last two albums, Wallflower and Glad Rag Doll).
22. Grant Green – Idle Moments (1965)
I’m usually not a big fan of guitar jazz, but the nearly 15 minutes of the title track of this album with so many outstanding musicians, including Joe Henderson (see my post on him here) justifies the including here. I guarantee there’s not one minute of boredom in this slowly developing and evolving track.
23. Michael Wollny Trio – Weltentraum (2014)
OK, so ECM, the great German jazz label, got their share of albums here. Let’s make sure we add another great German jazz label, ACT.
Michael Wollny is one of the great German talents of today, and both the 2014 album Weltentraum as well as this live version are creative, inspired, and fun to listen to.
24. Alboran Trio – Near Gale (2008)
Another ACT album. The Italian Alboran Trio seems to have completely disappeared since this 2008 album, and it’s equally great predecessor, Meltemi (2006). What a pity, this is again to me the epitome of a piano trio album.
25. Keith Jarrett: Solo Concerts Bremen-Lausanne (1973)
Yes, I’m cheating. I said in my own rules only one album per artist.
Well, but first of all I make the rules on my own blog, and then this blog has Keith Jarrett in the subtitle. I couldn’t walk away from this without a Jarrett Solo Concerto, given that this was the topic of my very first blog that started this entire adventure entry here.
I could have chosen the Köln Concert, and yes that is a must have for everybody. But so are the Sun Bear Concerts, Bremen Lausanne, The Carnegie Hall Concert or pretty much any other of his solo albums for that matter.
I still have the original vinyl of the excellent Bremen Lausanne, and it is basically just a placeholder for his entire solo works. If I have enough time, I’ll try eventually to review in detail all Keith Jarrett solo concerts.
So, that’s it folks, looking forward to your feedback!
Moanin: here (Qobuz)
Here comes Charlie: here (Qobuz)
People Time: here (Qobuz)
Oliver Nelson: here (Qobuz)
Oscar Peterson: here (Highresaudio)
Ray Brown: here (HDTracks)
Diana Krall: here (Qobuz)
Chick Corea: here (Qobuz)
Bremen-Lausanne: here (Qobuz)
Michael Wollny: here (Qobuz)
Alboran Trio: here (Qobuz)