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The Jazz Thread

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I thought I'd start this thread after trudging around a record fair at the weekend surrounded by hundreds of jazz lps but not having a real clue where to begin. I'm sure I'm not alone in that - Jazz has always been something I've wanted to explore more, and have enjoyed most of what I've heard, but knowing where to look is pretty daunting without just picking and choosing at random.

I know from previous threads that there are some knowledgable jazz heads on these forums, so would be very interested to hear peoples recommendations; be it established classics or little-known gems, from canonized performers or relative unknowns alike.

My knowledge of jazz is fairly poor but I thought I'd share some stuff from the Coltranes to kick the thread off:

Alice Coltrane - Journey in Satchidananda

I only just heard Alice Coltrane for the first time about a fortnight ago after picking up her first few albums, but it's really special stuff. As pretentious as it is to say, her music genuinely does sound spiritual - on a different level completely. Apologies for the Icelandic kite-flying (and missing about 2 minutes from the track) but she seems quite scarce on the video sites.

Everybody probably knows this, but I like the video and I bought the (excellent) album from the afore-mentioned record fair at the weekend so it's fresh in my mind. The solo!

So...questions, recommendations, video links, sample MP3s - all welcome!

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Miles Davis post Bitches Brew,

Yeah, I've been playing Jack Johnson and On The Corner loads recently. Just ordered Live/Evil and Dark Magus off of Amazon.

In a Silent Way by Miles, A Love Supreme by Coltrane and Brilliant Corners by Thelonius Monk are must have records.

I've also been listening to Sweet Earth Flower by His Name Is Alive which is well worth a listen.

A tribute to a free jazz saxophonist by an ex-indie guy, it's pretty special:

post-4956-1200260232.jpg

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I'm going through a massive binge of jazz fusion at the moment, Miles Davis post Bitches Brew, as well as the first two Mahavishnu Orchestra albums and some Weather Report.

Are the other Mahavishnu Orchestra albums worth hearing? I've only got Birds of Fire, which is pretty immense. Every album seems to have a different line-up so wasn't too sure about the quality control.

Have you heard Billy Cobham's Spectrum? I've been playing it a bit recently after reading about it on the web, just great virtuoso playing throughout - Quadrant 4/Anxiety, Taurian Matador

Thanks for the recommendations so far, I've just picked up Brilliant Corners and Sweet Earth Flower from emusic.

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I'm more of a funk sort of guy myself.

Life on Planet Groove by Maceo Parker, and of course Headhunters by Herbie Hancock.

Plus, of course, Cheesecake, by Louis Armstrong.

A bit of big band is nice too; go for some Count Basie, Arturo Sandoval, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller if you like the classics.

EDIT: Spectrum? Totally. Tried playing it with a few friends actually; 2 sax, trumpet, drums, keys, bass, didn't go too badly. Some nasty keys and stuff though, even once you get past the fact it's in 7/4.

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If you like Alice Coltrane, you should check out some of the other people on Impulse! Records, a lot of spiritual stuff on there.

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Albert Ayler - Music Is the Healing Force of the Universe

Great album but I mostly love it for the vocals

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Joe Henderson - Elements

Featuring Alice Coltrane and quite spiritual in a similar way to Journey..., four tracks inspired and named after fire, earth, water, air

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Charles Mingus - Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus

Probably not his most famous work but it's damn good and can be got in Virgin/Zavvi for £5. Can anyone tell me where I recognise II B.S. from?

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Some non-Impulse stuff

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Mose Allison - Your Mind Is On Vacation

Jazzy/bluesy piano-heavy songs, not really avant-garde or "difficult" at all, he's got a fantastic voice.

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Herbie Hancock - Headhunters

It was mentioned before but I wanted to mention it too as it was the first Jazz album I ever owned. Damn funky stuff.

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Sun Ra - Space Is The Place

Probably my favourite Sun Ra, although his catalogue is so extensive that I've not even heard a quarter of it yet.

I'd also recommend Art Ensemble of Chicago, Freddie Hubbard, Gary Bartz, Jimmy Smith

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Return To Forever - Where Have I Known You Before

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BOOM.

Incredible line-up, Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White, Al Di Meola.

An underrated fusion classic.

Charles Mingus - Mingus Ah Um

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What can be said that's not been said a billion times?

Buy it.

There's also a brilliant blog where a fella uploads out-of-print jazz vinyl.

http://orgyinrhythm.blogspot.com/

There's some incredible stuff on there.

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I cannot recommend the stuff that John Zorn did/does with the various forms of Masada enough. Masada being more songbook of Ornette Coleman* inspired jazz mixed with Jewish music than a group, it started as a jazz quartet (Initially Masada but later sometimes known as 'acoustic' Masada) and then spawned Electric Masada, Masada String Trio and Bar Kokhba.

Masada - Beeroth

Masada String Trio - Sippur

I saw the second night (String Trio and Electric) of Zorn's Complete Masada show in Barcelona last summer and it was quite possibly the best thing I've ever seen.

And I've seen three things.

*On the subject of Coleman, "The Shape of Jazz To Come" is very much worth anyone's listening time

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This is such a massive field you could be here all day reading recommendation etc.

It depends if you are going to go track or album hunting.

I'm going to say find pretty much anything by Horace Silver - Albums Tokyo Blues or Song for My Father for starters.

You simply cannot go wrong there.

Lou Donaldson is great start for more funky stuff like Hot Dog.

Sam Rivers - The Soul Society is a cracking album too.

The list is virtually endless.

I can feel myself about to start a list thread....

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As Dr Nookie says Jazz is simply too big to just ask for random recommendations. I LOVE Jazz and own hundreds of jazz records and there have already been recommendations that I don't like at all.

However, as you mentioned that you enjoyed Giant Steps I can recommend other music of a similar vein.

Jackie McLean's 'Let Freedom Ring' - fantastic furious hard bop from a master of the alto sax.

McCoy Tyner's 'The Real McCoy' - The famous Coltrane quartet but Joe Henderson replaces Coltrane. Wonderful.

Lee Morgan's 'The Search For The New Land' - not as 'commercial' as most of Lee Morgan's stuff, this album shows him as a musician and composer of prodigious talent. Having said that you can't go wrong with his 'Sidewinder' album either.

But the best recommendation I can make is that you pick up a copy of The Penguin Guide To Jazz on CD. It is a brilliantly written and fascinating book, and they've kindly made a list of the 'essential' Jazz albums. A must for any budding jazz aficionado.

(Just noticed all my recommendations were Blue Note, so to balance it out you could do worse than pick up Sonny Rollins +4, a brilliant saxophonist with a different style to Coltrane but in the same genre.)

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Can someone help me with jazz terminology as to sub-genres, possibly using Miles Davis albums as examples? I am not sure of the difference between bop, hard-bop, modal and this kind of thing. It would help me find other stuff I like more easily.

I can have a go...

Be-Bop - Miles never really did be-bop with his own bands and it never seemed to sit well with him when he did play it. He played (poorly) on the famous Charlie Parker at the Savoy sessions but didn't really record be-bop himself. For this type of jazz think of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson et al.

Cool - Obviously Birth of The Cool. Cerebral and considered music. If this is your bag check out Lee Konitz, Gerry Mulligan, Art Pepper, and most of the other West Coast artists.

Hard-Bop - Milestones is a pretty good example of Hard-Bop; fast pace, extended solos, loose rythm section accompaniment. Similar in style to Max Roach, Sonny Rollins, and mid period Coltrane (late fifties).

Modal - Kind of Blue is the modal jazz album for me, and I don't think anyone else ever came close to it. Having said that Bill Evans' own albums are fantastic and you can hear from them that his influence on the album Kind of Blue became was enormous. His Everybody Digs Bill Evans is always worth a look.

Post-Bop: This was Miles' best period for me, and Miles Smiles is my favorite album from it. Other artists doing work in the same mileu, Wayne Shorter, Larry Young, later Coltrane, Andrew Hill, Jackie McLean, Bobby Hutcherson and a whole host of others.

Fusion - A Tribute To Jack Johnson. I'm not a fan of this sort of thing so I'm probably not the best person to ask about it, but this album seems pretty popular amongst Fusion fans. I think Herbie Hancock's stuff from the same period is better.

I guess that's the major one's covered, and it's a good job because it's in the mid seventies that my interest in Jazz ends.

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. Can anyone tell me where I recognise II B.S. from?

Gang Starr's 'Who's The Man?', probably.

Second the Bill Evans recommendation, especially 'Explorations' and 'Waltz For Debby'. It's not a bad idea to try and follow the careers of individual players - i.e. if you like a certain Miles Davis album then check who was in the band on the album and pick up their solo stuff too.

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Scott LaFaro blows shit apart on some of those Bill Evans recordings.

There's one in particular, I think it's 'Sunday At The Village Vanguard'.

The basslines he boshed out there blew minds and still blow minds today.

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Very good, thanks a lot! I will definitely be getitng some more modal stuff and continuing my love affair with Jazz-Fusion and its overblown idiosyncracies.

No problem.

I actually forgot the big one, a good chunk of Miles output was straight 'bop'. The 'Cooking', 'Steaming', 'Working', and 'Relaxing' sessions being typical of the style. In fact most modern jazz recorded between about 1952 and 1958 falls into this category.

I would second SM47's contention that Scott LeFaro was outstanding on 'Sunday At The Village Vanguard' and 'Waltz for Debby' by Bill Evans. Sadly LeFaro was killed in a car crash shortly after these recordings, which is a great shame.

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Can anyone recommend some minimal, 'evil' jazz, along the lines of the later Bohren and der Club of Gore?

Bastion posted a thread about it a few weeks back.

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It's finally happening.

Return To Forever are back together for an 'extensive north american and european tour' this summer.

No dates have been announced, but I'm hoping they'll play the Taliesin Arts Centre in Swansea like Billy Cobham did last year. They'll prob end up playing one date in London or summat, but I don't care, I'll hitchhike my way there if needs be.

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Just to say, I've been slowly working through some of these recs and those I've picked up have been excellent - Brilliant Corners, Mingus Ah Um and the His Name is Alive albums especially. The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings arrived today from Amazon too and it'll last me years, nay decades :(

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Just to say, I've been slowly working through some of these recs and those I've picked up have been excellent - Brilliant Corners, Mingus Ah Um and the His Name is Alive albums especially. The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings arrived today from Amazon too and it'll last me years, nay decades :P

Nice one. Mingus Ah Um was one of the first jazz records I ever bought (I've just realised that was 20 years ago. Christ!), and if you like that then it's worth checking out Mingus' Blues And Roots which has the same Gospel inspired themes. Although most of his stuff is worth listening to.

It's the same with Brilliant Corners actually, I don't think Monk ever made a dud record. However the two Blue Note records, 'Genius of Modern Music' Vol 1 and 2, are especially good in my view.

As someone else said earlier in the thread, look at the line up on records you like and check out the recordings of the other band members. For instance Pepper Adams and Jackie McLean feature heavily on Mingus Ah Um, and recorded some incredible records with their own bands.

Enjoy.

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If you like Alice Coltrane, you should check out some of the other people on Impulse! Records, a lot of spiritual stuff on there.

705_1856.jpg

Joe Henderson - Elements

Featuring Alice Coltrane and quite spiritual in a similar way to Journey..., four tracks inspired and named after fire, earth, water, air

I bought this album years ago, listened to it once and shelved it. After reading this thread and seeing it recommended I thought I'd dust it off and try again. I still find it be crap I'm afraid. And it hurts me to say that because I consider Joe Henderson to be some sort of demi-god.

It's typical of the kind of meandering directionless waffle that was so popular in jazz at this time, which is a shame as I think the first track is a potentially great tune totally ruined by pointless rambling solos, weird post production effects and a HARP! A jazz HARP for crying out loud! Oh, and a dreadful violin as well. I haven't yet made it through the third track.

Anyway, I tried but it's back on the shelf for this one.

Just to balance it out, everyone with even a mild interest in jazz should pick up Joe Henderson's second album Inner Urge and his much later recording The State of The Tenor. The man was a genius.

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I'm in danger of turning this into a one man thread but I would be remiss in my duties as a jazz evangalist if I didn't share this one with y'all.

I picked up this album yesterday, Duke Pearson's The Phantom.

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It just goes to show what an incredible breadth and depth jazz contains when even a hoary old jazz wreck like me can find something new and, yes mind-blowing, in it's library. The title track is a driving, hypnotic, jungle rhythm layered with strange and exotic melodies from Pearson's piano, a flute, and vibes (provided by the incomparable Bobby Hutcherson). The rest of the album is latin-inspired post-bop, and sees Hutcherson in fine form throughout. It does occasionally skirt a little close to lounge music, but those moments are few and far between.

Highly recommended.

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It's typical of the kind of meandering directionless waffle that was so popular in jazz at this time, which is a shame as I think the first track is a potentially great tune totally ruined by pointless rambling solos, weird post production effects and a HARP! A jazz HARP for crying out loud!

The older I get, the more I want this kind of stuff. I'll usually not bother with albums now if there isn't at least two tunes over ten minutes long.

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The older I get, the more I want this kind of stuff. I'll usually not bother with albums now if there isn't at least two tunes over ten minutes long.

It's not really the length of the tunes, I adore Charlie Mingus' Live At The Jazz Workshp which only has two 20 minute tracks on it! It's more that they just don't feel like they're going anywhere with it. Even Henderson, who is normally so consistent. Compare it to his playing on Andrew Hill's Point of Departure (which is also pretty 'out there') where there seems to be a real purpose to what he and his associates are playing.

Hmm, as with all things musical it's difficult to articulate. I guess in the end it's just not my bag.

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