TEN ESSENTIAL JAZZ ALBUMS – ACCORDING TO JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER, MAY 21, 2015
New to jazz and not sure where to start? With many artists and extensive catalogs of music, a new jazz listener can feel intimidated. We’re here to help! Check out the Jazz at Lincoln Center list of 10 albums to get you started on your jazz journey and introduce you to some of jazz’s great artists.
- Time Out, Take Five
Take Five is a singular and thrilling mix of the familiar and the unexpected. What has kept this album in the limelight and in listeners’ hearts for so many years is the unending sense of effortless swing, the magnificently catchy melodies, and the beautifully choreographed dance between four luminaries of music.
- Blue Train, John Coltrane
Blue Train features a younger Coltrane playing beautifully on some highly memorable pieces in outstanding company. From the title track’s somber mood giving way to a bluesy swing, to Moment’s Notice’s peppy start-and-stop melody, to Lazy Bird’s bop workout, Blue Train is a delight from start to finish.
- The Sidewinder, Lee Morgan
The burgeoning soul jazz scene found one of its standard-bearers in Lee Morgan. Taking a page from the boogaloo playbook, the piece Sidewinder may stand as one of the funkiest hard bop tunes set to record. Just try to stop yourself from dancing to this masterpiece. A crowd-pleaser, the album’s secret weapon lies in its heavy-hitting A-team of a band that keeps you grooving even as they get into some deep musical territory.
- The Turnaround, Hank Mobley
Hear the full range of Hank Mobley’s greatness: from his beautifully supple tenor saxophone tone, to his earthy bluesy wails, the range of his expressive capabilities make it onto this beautiful album. Recorded over several years and multiple sessions, this album also gives you a veritable who’s-who of great Jazz figures of the mid-1960s.
- Ella & Louis, Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong
Take two of the greatest artists that music has ever known, pair them with a rhythm section of masters, and give them beloved standard fare from the songbook they helped to define and you’ve got one of the most magical albums of jazz. Relaxed, effortless, beautiful, swinging, and fun, this album will charm even the most resistant of listeners.
- Moanin’, Art Blakey
Gospel, blues, hard bop, and swing congeal in this masterpiece of an album, and at its core is the relentless propulsion machine that is Blakey’s drumming. Endlessly swinging and churning along with Blakey’s inimitable shuffle, this album is a testament to Art’s oft-quoted line, “Jazz washes away the dust of everyday life.”
- Everybody Digs Bill Evans, Bill Evans
After listening to this album, you’ll find yourself agreeing with its title. Gorgeously meditative, though often quite sprightly in its swing, Everybody Digs Bill Evans captures the essence of this remarkable artist and showcases the beautiful pearly sound he could draw out of the keyboard.
- Ellington Indigos, Duke Ellington
A subtle, gorgeous big band album that presents the remarkable range and capabilities of the Ellington band, this serves as a beautiful introduction to this ensemble. Keep an ear open for the lush, vocal qualities of Johnny Hodges’ alto saxophone as well as the majestic sound of Harry Carney’s baritone saxophone solo.
- Be Good, Gregory Porter
Gregory Porter wields a beautiful, supple baritone voice, sports a deep knowledge of the Jazz tradition, shows an abiding love of R&B, and has a sense of adventure that drives him to explore new projects and write new music. On Be Good, he struck a perfect balance that will surprise and delight you at every turn.
- Sarah Vaughan with Clifford Brown
On Sarah’s singing alone, this stands as one of the most remarkable albums of jazz. Add in an all-star ensemble, and in particular the master trumpeter Clifford Brown, and you have a legendary album. Incredible ensemble work, beautiful standards, and an intuitive interplay between vocalist and horns make this a record that grabs you on the first listen and keeps you enthralled through hundreds more.
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