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JAZZ

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I decided to start a basic jazz collection. I'm totally ignorant in that genre. I'll start with Kind of Blue (no, I don't even know that one...). But I have already a problem for Kind of Blue: which CD issue should I purchase? There are dozens of them!

Feel free to recommend the CDs i should start with! (Coltrane, Mingus, Fitzgerald, Holiday...), with special care of the best CD issues, thanks! :)

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There is a huge jazz thread somewhere (in fact, right here), in which the likes of Christian, Coltrane and Rich wax lyrical about Jazz - you could scroll through that and get some good ideas.

My ill-informed tips would be:

Miles Davis - Miles Smiles

Keith Jarrett - Belonging

Herbie Hancock - Empryean Isles.

Edited by stu

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I decided to start a basic jazz collection. I'm totally ignorant in that genre. I'll start with Kind of Blue (no, I don't even know that one...). But I have already a problem for Kind of Blue: which CD issue should I purchase? There are dozens of them!

Feel free to recommend the CDs i should start with! (Coltrane, Mingus, Fitzgerald, Holiday...), with special care of the best CD issues, thanks! :)

This is like saying, "I just learned how to read. Can anyone recommend a good book?" Rather than recommending specific CDs, I'll suggest instead that you start by borrowing, watching, and reading.

Most libraries should have The Smithsonian History of Jazz. This is a 4-CD chronological overview of the music. Failing that, I'd try to try to find the 4-CD chronological overview Ken Burns' Jazz that was issued at the same time as Burns' PBS documentary several years ago. These are both good overviews of the genre, although the Smithsonian collection is better. Like rock 'n roll, classical, or any genre, jazz is so big and all-encompassing that it will help to have a sense of the history and the stylistic changes that have occurred through the decades. Those overviews should help.

I'd watch Ken Burns' PBS documentary Jazz. It's something like nineteen hours long, and gives short shrift to the music of the past thirty years, but it's still a good (and painless) way to become familiar with the musical giants.

And I'd buy The Penguin Guide to Jazz. It's not perfect, but it's pretty close to exhaustive, and offers reviews of something like 12,000 jazz albums. Then I'd start with the people you liked best from the Smithsonian and/or Burns sets, find the albums that have been rated as 5-star masterpieces, and start spending inordinate amounts of cash. You could be doing this for a while.

I don't know if this will be helpful, but here is a chronicle of how I became a jazz fan, almost against my will.

Have fun.

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Thanks Andy and all for your answers. I've read the other thread (sorry 'bout that, Josh, feel free to add this to the other if it's possible). Still, I want to start with Kind of Blue but don't know which CD reissue I should purchase. The most recent one? I think I'll purchase Coltrane's Blue Train and Mingus Ah Um, too.

I actually have an excellent French dictionary of jazz, I think.

Edited by Hugues

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I don't know if this will be helpful, but here is a chronicle of how I became a jazz fan, almost against my will.

oh wow, that's pretty funny Andy, as I also bought Bitches Brew more than a decade ago (recommended by Rock & Folk magazine over here, which is like the French Rolling Stone) and couldn't really get into. Same happened with Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica and Quicksilver Messenger Service's Happy Trails I had bought around the same time. I guess I wasn't ready. I could also tell my story with Van Morrison's Astral Weeks. It was hard to get into fifteen years ago, and now I just adore it. I just couldn't appreciate it since my tastes in music were too green, I'd say. I still think today nobody should start with Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica, though.

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Hugues-- Because the language of jazz is so foreign to most of today's popular music, i would recommend reading before buying. As Andy said, the Penguin Guide is a great encylcopedia to help find out what some of the historic players brought to the table. This is important, because everyone's taste is different-- some will lean toward more compositional-style jazz, others the untethered regions of free jazz and so on.

I'm into jazz today (in all of it's convoluted streams) because a college kid came to my door selling magazine subscriptions when i was fourteen. He wouldnt let me pick Playboy so i chose the only music mag on the list-- Downbeat. From that monthly rag i got turned on to the likes of Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report, Jaco, Metheny and George Benson. After spending a year or so listening and getting to know the guts of the more rock-oriented fusion, I began paying closer attention to the deeper influences that were mentioned in interviews: Wes Montgomery, Charlie Parker, Miles, Trane, etc... I then started digging through those catalogs and working my way back.

Bitches Brew has been mentioned a few times here. That's one of those albums that was revelatory to musicans at the time, but carries a pretty glaring expiration date IMO. I would never, ever recommend that album for anyone wanting to dig into jazz. Ditto for In a Silent Way and Jack Johnson. There's just not a lot there content-wise, even though they became highly influential. On that subject, a solid argument can be made that many of these boundary-pushing jazz artists made these albums as journal entries of their group exercises and never intended them to be the overblown historic documents and objects of analysis they've become.

Kind of Blue is also a tricky recommendation. Most newcomers will sample it and admire the pleasantness but in reality (if they're honest) be bored to tears and wonder what all the fuss is about. It's a very subdued collection of barebones tunes, that will sound to many like a cliched mellow jazz album.

Start with something more direct (anything on Andy's "Gateway List", for example) and if your pleased, start working back through the jazz timeline.

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Thanks again. You know, I think I listen to some music that gives taste for jazz - an example being Joni Mitchell - I have all her records til Mingus (so I have Hejira, one of Andy's gateways). I listen to Joe Henry and some others like that. So I come to jazz from a popular music point. I also venture myself into exprimental stuff like OOIOO, which has nothing to do with jazz but means I'm ready to enjoy pretty much everything in music. :)

I have purchased Kind of Blue (and will tell here if I like it), Blue Train, Mingus Ah Um, and two compilations of Ella and Billie recommended by AMG. I of course have already heard Ella and Billie, but needed something covering their career to have an overview.

Edited by Hugues

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I have purchased Kind of Blue (and will tell here if I like it), Blue Train, Mingus Ah Um, and two compilations of Ella and Billie recommended by AMG. I of course have already heard Ella and Billie, but needed something covering their career to have an overview.

Great, great starting point, Hugues. Which Ella and Billie compilations did you pick up? And where's Sarah Vaughan? ;)

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hugues, I'd also strongly suggest that you check out some jazz websites - some, like All About Jazz, have free daily downloads and message boards, too.

I would also recommend listening to jazz radio stations on the internet. I developed a much stronger fondness for Brazilian jazz after days of listening to one or other station while I was working. BBC Radio 3 do some good jazz shows (Jazz Records Request is a standard feature of my weekend with an enormous variety of stuff played) including frequent documentaries on key jazz musicians and styles. The Radio 3 jazz page is here.

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I have purchased Kind of Blue (and will tell here if I like it), Blue Train, Mingus Ah Um, and two compilations of Ella and Billie recommended by AMG. I of course have already heard Ella and Billie, but needed something covering their career to have an overview.

Great, great starting point, Hugues. Which Ella and Billie compilations did you pick up? And where's Sarah Vaughan? ;)

I've ordered Ella's Something To Live For, two CDs featuring the Decca years (1935-1955) and the Verve years (1956-1966), and Billie's Gold, 2 CDs as well, which is the same material as The Ultimate Collection, minus the DVD.

I will purchase Sarah Vaughan later - any special recommendation? :)

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hugues, I'd also strongly suggest that you check out some jazz websites - some, like All About Jazz, have free daily downloads and message boards, too. All About Jazz is a very good place for people to ask questions - one of the board forums is called "New to jazz? have a question?"

That's funny, they reviewed OOIOO's Taiga. I have mentionned the record above. It must have something to do with jazz fter all. They're more critical with the record than AMG, though. Looks like the jazz audience is more demanding than the pop one with experimental stuff.

Edited by Hugues

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I would also recommend listening to jazz radio stations on the internet. I developed a much stronger fondness for Brazilian jazz after days of listening to one or other station while I was working. BBC Radio 3 do some good jazz shows (Jazz Records Request is a standard feature of my weekend with an enormous variety of stuff played) including frequent documentaries on key jazz musicians and styles. The Radio 3 jazz page is here.

Thanks for the link. Is Brasilian jazz connected to bossa and tropicalia? Coincidentally, I've also purchased several Brasilian CDs lately: Jobim (Wave), Joao Gilberto (Amoroso/Brasil), Astrud Gilberto's Finest Hour, Caetano Veloso (Tropicalia), Gilberto Gil (Frevo Rasgado, Gil e Jorge) & Gal Costa (Meu Nome

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I have purchased Kind of Blue (and will tell here if I like it), Blue Train, Mingus Ah Um, and two compilations of Ella and Billie recommended by AMG. I of course have already heard Ella and Billie, but needed something covering their career to have an overview.

Great, great starting point, Hugues. Which Ella and Billie compilations did you pick up? And where's Sarah Vaughan? ;)

I've ordered Ella's Something To Live For, two CDs featuring the Decca years (1935-1955) and the Verve years (1956-1966), and Billie's Gold, 2 CDs as well, which is the same material as The Ultimate Collection, minus the DVD.

I will purchase Sarah Vaughan later - any special recommendation? :)

Yes.

And, if I may add one more jazz-vocal favorite, this one from a male, this one really swings!

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I will purchase Sarah Vaughan later - any special recommendation? :)

Christian's recommendation of the Sarah Vaughan/Clifford Brown sessions is right on the money.

I'd also recommend Sarah Vaughan Sings George Gershwin. Sarah Vaughan is my favorite jazz singer (yes, as blasphemous as it might sound, I prefer her to Billie Holiday), and it doesn't get any better than her interpretations of these Tin Pan Alley standards. Her version of "Someone to Watch Over Me" is a desert island song for me; that is, if I'm allowed to bring individual songs instead of albums to this mythical desert isle. Thank God for iPods.

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Thanks. I had never heard of Mel Torm

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I will purchase Sarah Vaughan later - any special recommendation? :)

Yes.

I'll buy it. There's an expanded reissue with complete sessions: I guess it's a better choice? Here's a link:

Complete sessions with Clifford Brown

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I will purchase Sarah Vaughan later - any special recommendation? :)

Yes.

I'll buy it. There's an expanded reissue with complete sessions: I guess it's a better choice? Here's a link:

Complete sessions with Clifford Brown

I'm not sure. The link I gave was for the remastered edition that was released a couple of years ago, after I'd already purchased the CD. Maybe it's been released yet again since then? I'm sure any version is fine, even the "bare bones" edition I bought seven or eight years ago.

.

I recently listened to these two discs again -- we own them separtely, although I believe they're currently sold as a remastered two-disc set -- and had a much more favorable impression of these renditions than I did when we first bought them, shortly after Sarah and I were married (we celebrated our sixth anniversary this past March). At that time, the lack of "swing" on these albums bothered me. Not so these days.

Sarah Vaughan is my favorite jazz singer (yes, as blasphemous as it might sound, I prefer her to Billie Holiday), and it doesn't get any better than her interpretations of these Tin Pan Alley standards.

I'm delighted to hear this, Andy. She's my favorite as well. Yeah, she's affected sometimes, and rarely as exuberant as Ella Fitzgerald, but overall, I find her vocals more compelling than those of either Ella or Billie.

Thanks. I had never heard of Mel Torm

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May I add Nina Simone and Nat King Cole to the list of nice gateway drugs to Jazz.

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For jazz vocals, Ella Fitzgerald is always a classic. The mixed samplers are good, or if you want recordings of her singing songs by specific composers, she does a good job singing Gershwin and Cole Porter songs. Another idea regarding Ella is to get Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas. It's just a really good Christmas CD even if you aren't a big fan of jazz.

A more modern jazz vocalist I like is Dianne Reeves. She sang most of the songs for the soundtrack for Good Night, and Good Luck. My favorite of her CDs is Quiet After the Storm, but most of her CDs are good.

My primary interest is guitar. If you're interested in guitar stuff, Wes Montgomery has a CD called The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery which is good.

My favorite jazz guitarist is Earl Klugh. He has a CD called Solo Guitar. It's just very mellow, not a lot of production.

Django Reinhardt is another jazz guitarist you can't go too wrong with.

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May I add Nina Simone and Nat King Cole to the list of nice gateway drugs to Jazz.

Perfect! I purchased Nina's Anthology two weeks ago (recommended by Thom Jurek on AMG). :)

Nina Simone is really unique.

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May I add Nina Simone and Nat King Cole to the list of nice gateway drugs to Jazz.

Perfect! I purchased Nina's Anthology two weeks ago (recommended by Thom Jurek on AMG). :)

Nina Simone is really unique.

And Before Sunset made me love her even more.

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Ooooh by the way: I forgot to say I actually own an amazing reissue of Peggy Lee's Black Coffee, SUPERB packaging work from Verve, released in 2004! I adore Peggy Lee, I discovered her with the Best Of (with bonus DVD) two years ago. This Black Coffee is probably the most beautiful reissue of my CDs collection, and the music is just sublime. To me, Peggy Lee is one of the most fascinating singers of the 20th century. She was eclectic, and she was pop. "Is That All There Is?" (Leiber & Stoller) is a great song.

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Nardis knows a lot more about Brazilian music than I do, but if it

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Christian's recommendation of the Sarah Vaughan/Clifford Brown sessions is right on the money.

I'd also recommend Sarah Vaughan Sings George Gershwin. Sarah Vaughan is my favorite jazz singer (yes, as blasphemous as it might sound, I prefer her to Billie Holiday), and it doesn't get any better than her interpretations of these Tin Pan Alley standards. Her version of "Someone to Watch Over Me" is a desert island song for me; that is, if I'm allowed to bring individual songs instead of albums to this mythical desert isle. Thank God for iPods.

Andy, you are a genius. Jazz vocals don't get better than Sarah Vaughn. I would say that IMO her best work is from the mid fifties to early seventies from a vocal and mature sound POV. I cannot address the issue of recordings.

Hugues, you are getting a ridiculous amount of advice here. Remember that Andy and nardis have much critical experience and coltrane has a broad performance history. Other than that, Gerschwin, Gerschwin, Gerschwin. He's like Shakespeare in that you have to try real hard to mess up his music. It translates almost universally. You catch the name of a particular artist, or become introduced by this thread? If you can find that or those artists performing Gerschwin, all of a sudden you have a critical plateau on which you can work some critical comparisons. Everybody has sung or performed Gerschwin, even many who compose their own music. Jump in and enjoy the water, so to speak.

Edited by Rich Kennedy

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Hugues, you are getting a ridiculous amount of advice here. Remember that Andy and nardis have much critical experience and coltrane has a broad performance history. Other than that, Gerschwin, Gerschwin, Gerschwin. He's like Shakespeare in that you have to try real hard to mess up his music. It translates almost universally. You catch the name of a particular artist, or become introduced by this thread? If you can find that or those artists performing Gerschwin, all of a sudden you have a critical plateau on which you can work some critical comparisons. Everybody has sung or performed Gerschwin, even many who compose their own music. Jump in and enjoy the water, so to speak.

Which reminds me that I came to know many of Gershwin's songs through a sampler my wife had, and which I'd never heard, but which has become a favorite: It's a Verve compilation titled S'wonderful, and if it's your first introduction to Gershwin's tunes, you may find that, like me, several of these renditions become the renditions by which all other performances of these same songs are judged.

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