Important Jazz albums, so says I
The Shape of Jazz to Come – Ornette Coleman (Full Album in Link)
Compared to Birth of The Cool this album has not echoed in the consciousness of the casual jazz fan or the nation. But The Shape is no less audacious in its declared intention or its ground breaking nature. It has been recognized by congress and free jazz owes as much to this album as cool jazz owes to Davis’. Now pinning down something as amorphous as ‘avant garde’ jazz is impossible, but this is a seminal collection of songs in that history.
‘Lonely Woman’ is the most resonant song here. I feel this is objective, while each of the album’s minutes are beautiful, I think any observer could feel a connection to ‘Lonely Woman.’ Jazz as a synesthetic art form is as a peak here. Close your eyes as you listen. Every sound is a dab of paint on an evolving scroll and you can watch a Pollock appear in your mind’s eye. Never overwhelmed, but never left out to dry, the cacophony of the wind cycles in and out over a classic drum riff and the bass kicks in always at the perfect time.
San Francisco – Bobby Hutcherson
Ironically recorded in LA, this album does have a very San Fran feel, not the Bay Area, not even the whole city, more the Nob Hill and Pacific Heights areas. This is typified by ‘Procession’, a rolling song that includes one of my favorite sound waves ever recorded. Its a calm blast of music that needs to be experienced to really understand.
I’ve linked you to ‘A Night in Barcelona’ which has a little of that Bossa Nova feel as well as a great wood instrumentation floating around. Again, despite itself the calming, placidity of cool fog contains the song and keeps it sharp. The beginning almost falls into lobby music, but the electric keyboardist turns it up to 11 and the song takes it away after that.
Nippon Soul – Cannonball Adderley
After the Second World War when Japan started to acquire American tastes along with wealth, Jazz became a national sensation. Cannonball was amongst the first to capitalize on this and recorded this outstanding record. I have no doubt the pleasure captured by this live recording is in some part due to the fact that these players were the sole focus of a nation’s adoration for Jazz.
The titular track is a bouncy joy that never lets your mood fall. This set was very crisp, well executed at a high technical level. This song is my favorite though because it is not moody or trying to be ‘Blue’ in a Davis sense. The song is a happy one, I believe it to be a celebration of Jazz for the Japanese people.
Blues and Roots – Charles Mingus (Full album)
I thought about writing about Mingus’ first essential album, Pithecanthropus Erectus, but I realized that this needed to be the one. Erectus is fantastic, and the name of it excites my inner physical anthropology nerd ever so much. Still, few albums have the bop and power of Blues and Roots, so I need to share it.
For the improvisational element of Jazz to work, it needs to capture the unencumbered energetic flair of early punk. It must be a celebration of freedom where musicians, trapped by their mortal coil, escape through each other in sonic achievement. Blues combines this best aspect of Jazz with reflection on the blues roots of the genre. With a master like Mingus at the helm, success is guaranteed and delivered.
I believe Jazz is best enjoyed on lazy and long mornings, typically Sunday ones, but whenever you have the time to just read after breakfast and not even deal with the dishes. So take a listen the second your circumstances meet these preconditions, if not before, and enjoy some true gems of the soul.