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Jazz 4 Beginners

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by John-Paul666, Jul 27, 2005.

  1. Can anyone suggest some jazz albums to get me started please.
  2. In the US a few years ago PBS (Public Broadcasting System) put out a series of programs on the history of Jazz. These are available in most libraries in this country on videotape. If they are available in the UK, that would be an excellent way to start. You can get an idea of the history, styles and personalities. For instance, I learned that I really like Charlie Parker, it was just a lot of the people who followed him that I disliked. To start with modern jazz albums I think anything that has the name "Marsalis" on it is excellent (it doesn't matter if it is Branford, Wynton or Ellis) and anything with "Kenny G" is worthless.
  3. Phe


    May 30, 2005
    Oulu, Finland
    Kinda broad question, eh?
    I recommend Miles Davis' "Bitches Brew" and stuff by John Coltrane. +1 to Charlie Parker too. I don't know what kind of music you like, or what kind of jazz (you don't know either, I gather). These are bebob and free/fusion jazz, not everybodys cup of tea.

    If that documentary series thing that Aaron mentioned is what I think it is then I recommend watching it. If it isn't I recommend you to watch in any case. Jazz is good.
  4. Definetly check out Miles..........he has something for everybody.
  5. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    Jazz is a very broad term, just like rock. There are many subgenres.

    Dixieland: Louis Armstrong.
    Swing/Big Band: Benny Goodman
    Bebop: Thelonious Monk/Charlie Parker
    Cool: Miles Davis
    Hard Bop: Coletrane
    Free/Experimental: Ornette Coleman
    Fusion: Weather Report

    Just some of the big names, but then again, almost all those bands crossed into other genres as well. Coletrane often took in free jazz elements.

    I don't know why, but people seem to not like Ken Burns, the big jazz guys are too... hmmm how can I put this... "PuNk raWk" for Ken Burns. But he's fantastic for getting into jazz. If your willing to dive right in and get a taste for all the genres, he released a 5 disc set "The History of Jazz" which I had to get for a class and its wonderful. I don't like everything (Dixieland is to dopey for me), but it's worth the money.

    As far as albums good for beginners, I'd say Miles Davis - Kind of Blue, John Coletrane - Giant Steps, Herbie Hancock - Headhunter.

    Headhunter is almost more funk than it is jazz, it's a fun album. But then again, I don't know jack about jazz.
  6. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    New York, NY
    I play mostly standards, but I don't really listen to jazz albums at all. The stuff I'm more familiar with is fusion-type music.

    Check out the BET Jazz channel on TV if you can. They have a huge variety of music that they play, and most of it is really great stuff.

    And I like Kenny G . . . :ninja:
  7. bassjus


    Mar 30, 2004
    Great series, I defiantly recommend it.
  8. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Great list, although I'm going to reccomend "Sunday At The Village Vanguard" over "Everybody Digs Bill Evans." Great album, tons of info to dig into, but the shining star here is the interplay between Evans and bassist Scott LaFaro. The level of improvisation is almost telepathic -- I'm listening to this thing about 8 months after my first listen and I'll be hearing new things until the day I die. Incredible record. These are all older jazz records, which, IMO, are very different from "modern" jazz.

    Older jazz:

    Oscar Peterson Trio - Night Train (swinginest music ever pressed to vinyl)
    The Quintet - Jazz at Massey Hall. Bebop played by its inventors and innovators. Dizzy Gillespie on trumpet, Charlie Parker on alto sax, Bud Powell on the piano, Charles Mingus playing bass, and Max Roach on drums. Incredible.
    Charles Mingus - Mingus Ah Um. Mingus is a dude that might take a bit of listening to other jazz to really dig into. He's not for your average "Kenny-G-jazz-fan," I guess you could say. That said, this is probably his most "accessible" album.

    If you're into more modern jazz, you'll definitely dig:

    the Dave Holland Quintet - Not for Nothing. Great stuff, great bass playing from Holland and overall a phenomenal record.

    Pat Metheny - Bright Size Life. ECM release from 75, this is also (I think?) Jaco's recording debut. I'm probably wrong on that, but the interplay here is also wonderful (still nothing like Evans and LaFaro though...) as well as some beautiful compositions from Metheny. This is a great record that established Pat's sound for decades to come.

    Pat Metheny Group - The Way Up. You might want to hold off on this one for a bit -- it's an extension of Metheny's work, certainly, but released 30 years later than the record I previously mentioned, and a work of much greater scope. It's a single 68 minute long composition by Metheny and co-writer Lyle Mays (keys.) Really, really dense material, but this another one of those ones you'll be able to listen to for years and keep finding great bits.

    Also, I'm not really sure where to put this, but I do love Keith Jarret - Up For It. It's a trio recording from Juan Les-Pins with Gary Peacock on bass and Jack Dejohnette on drums, recorded in 03. Amazing playing and the three of them are definitely doing some really evolved stuff, but the material is still almost completely comprised of standards -- If I Were A Bell, My Funny Valentine, Someday My Prince Will Come, and Autumn Leaves (in a medley with "Up For It," which I take to be a Jarret composition.) Regardless, a very good record. IMO, worth buying if only to hear the drums.
  9. Deadworks


    Dec 13, 2004
    St.Louis, MO
    +1 to Ken burn's collection, if you can rent it. It might be a costly purchase for you to find out you might not be deeply interested in any style. If you can't find it for rent look for suggestions in the thread to listen to.

    Checking out the Smithsonian's Jazz Page will give you some basic info about styles and artists as well.

    Edit: No one mentioned Count Basie Orchestra for Big Band yet? Sheesh! check out the songs: April in Paris, One O'Clock Jump, Lester Leaps in, Jumpin at the Woodside, Lil Darlin'.
  10. reitedasc


    Jun 23, 2005
    Charlie Mingus - Changes 1, Changes 2
    Miles Davis - Kind of blue, Tutu, Decoy

    Many record stores has some jazz cd boxes on sale. If you can find a 3 cd set with a bunch of standards, that won`t be a bad idea, and you`ll find most of the tracks in a jazz sheet book.
  11. +10. These are two of my favorite jazz records, yet they seem not to be generally that well known.

    Some good suggestions here. A few more (in no order, and with no pretense to completeness):

    Wes Montgomery--The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery

    Sonny Rollins--The Bridge, Way Out West

    Wayne Shorter--Night Dreamer, Native Dancer

    Thelonious Monk--Live at the It Club, Monk Plays Ellington

    John Coltrane--John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman (possibly one of the greatest examples of a jazz quartet backing a singer that you will ever hear)
  12. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    Jazz is the devils music, it makes me want to play the drums!

    ... and the bass.
  13. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    What kind of stuff is the trio album? Never really heard 'em. IMO, while not "jazz for beginners," Pat's another great place to look for "modern" jazz, along with fellas like Dave Holland or Gordon Webster.

    Another album to check out...Duke Ellington (ft. Mingus and Roach) - Money Jungle. A really great disc, IMO some really intense trio work here. Ellington's piano playing is really neat -- he's no Bud Powell or Oscar Peterson, and what's more, doesn't try to be. Because he's not dripping, oozing, and pussing with technical wizardy like the above mentioned, he uses a dozen notes with brilliant rhythmic placement to imply the 100 or so that Oscar might play. Very similar piano style to Monk, actually. The interplay is very neat -- check out the Amazon.com page on this album for a very well-written review, describing the album as a "musical fistfight." Also a neat note is that not only was Duke Mingus's hero and massive influence, but Mingus is also the only person to have ever been "fired" (asked politely and firmly to resign) from Duke's band. That was long before this album, though. Check out their take on Caravan -- very wild.

    Wes Montgomery is incredible! I haven't heard as much from him as I'd like to, but I can't get enough of his takes on The Girl From Ipanema and How Insensitive (Insensatez.) Very cool bossa stuff. I wonder if he did an entire album of latin music...hmmm...

    PS: For more info on ANY of the artists mentioned here, check out www.allmusic.com -- registration's free, and will unlock VAST archives of information.
  14. +1 , Cannonball is pretty awesome, I got turned on to him by the weather report song
  15. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    You've probably noticed the numerous mentions of "Kind of Blue" by Miles Davis.


    This is widely known as "the jazz album even people who aren't jazz fans own". It's the PERFECT first jazz recording because it's very accessible without making any concessions to being "commercial"...just incredible music that's also incredibly beautiful to hear.
  16. reitedasc


    Jun 23, 2005
    About that ol`mingus guy.. you would`nt happend to have some transcritions laying around, would ya? :p
  17. DaveBeny


    Mar 22, 2000
    London, UK
    John Paul,

    As you're in the UK, PLEASE watch a TV series called 'Jazz Britannia'. The second episode is on BBC2 tonight (Friday) - it's a documentary series on the history of British jazz. Tonight's episode focuses on the '60s and '70s, and there is plenty of great footage that I'm sure you would enjoy. Plus, many of the musicians are still around today and playing regularly in the UK!

    Radio 1 DJ Gilles Peterson has recently put out two compilations called 'Impressed with...' (vols 1 and 2) on Universal which feature classic Brit-jazz recordings by the likes of Stan Tracey, Tubby Hayes, Joe Harriot and the Rendell/Carr Quintet. :cool: I recommend them to all jazz fans highly!
  18. No, but I know that some Mingus tunes are available in good versions in some of Chuck Sher's books (such as the World's Greatest Fake Book and the various volumes of the New Real Book).

  19. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I've seen some Mingus transcriptions(in various degrees & maybe NOT complete) in-

    Mingus: A Critical Biography- Brian Priestley
    Improviser's Bass Method- Chuck Sher

    ...I recall some other Mingus "Songbook", too; I used to thumb through it in the music store(part bio/part anecdote with a few bars charted out here & there).
  20. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    IMO, the best place to go for Mingus sheets are the "Minugs: More than a Playalong," and "Mingus: More than a Fakebook."