Whether you’re getting into jazz for the first time or wanting to experience the glory of 20th century jazz masters, here are 10 recordings we think will live on into the 22nd century. Enjoy!
1. “Yardbird Suite” by Charlie Parker. With Arv Garrison on guitar. Also Miles Davis trumpet; Lucky Thompson tenor sax; Dodo Mamarosa piano; Vic McMillan bass and Roy Porter drums. Recorded in Santa Monica, CA on March 28, 1946.
2. “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” by Frank Sinatra. One of Frank’s most relaxed, polished performances. This song is a perfect background to a romantic dinner. His phrasing was inimitable, his vocal control a testament to the long hours he devoted to underwater swimming. Frank was an unconventionally complex, brilliant man.
3. “My Baby Just Cares For Me” by Nina Simone .’The best known song from her first album back in 1957, Jazz As Played in an Exclusive Side Street Club. She was known as The High Priestess of Soul, though her first and true desire was to become a classical pianist, a career choice not open to female blacks. She is an intoxicating, fiery singer, capable of the utmost tenderness.
4. “Your Mind is on Vacation” by Mose Allison. Droll lyrics with a deceptively straightforward pianistic touch that belies Mose’s sophisticated approach to song construction. Everything Ben Sidran can do, Mose can do better. That’s no small feat.
5. “Chameleon” by Herbie Hancock. One of the funkiest jazz tracks every recorded, inspired by Herbie’s fanlust for the music of Sly and The Family Stone. Here is the beginning of much modern music.
6.“Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” by Lenny Breau from the classic 1968 album The Velvet Touch of Lenny Breau Live!, an album treasured by every fan of jazz guitar, and every jazz guitar player. Chet Atkins called Breau “the best guitar player who ever lived”.
7. “See See Rider” by Jimmy Smith. Here is the genius who brought the Hammond B3 organ out of the church and into the jazz clubs. Oh man, this guy is terrific! As was his band. This cut is from his 1959 album Home Cookin’, a Must Have recording.
8. “Monk’s Mood” by Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane First track from The Carnegie Hall Concert album. Carnegie Hall, New York, NY (11/29/1957). Melodic, inspired playing by two originals who never compromised their musical integrity.
Thelonious Monk (piano); John Coltrane (tenor saxophone); Ahmed Abdul-Malik (bass); Shadow Wilson (drums).
9. “I’m A Fool To Want You” by Billie Holiday from her 1958 album Lady in Satin, when she was approaching the end of her life. Her ravaged voice was still a glorious instrument. Frank Sinatra’s favorite singer. He believed there was no finer interpreter of song than Billie.
10.“Killer Joe” by Quincy Jones, with the great Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Hubert Laws on flute and the simply incredible Ray Brown on bass. From the 1969 classic album Walking in Space. Won 2 Grammy Awards – should have won 22.
Brian Miller is the Publisher and Editor of Vivascene. A former record store owner, business executive and business writer, he is devoted to great music, classical guitar, vinyl records and high end audio. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org