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#1 Hugues

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 06:30 AM

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! smile.gif



#2 stu

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 06:57 AM

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, 25 September 2006 - 06:58 AM.


#3 Andy Whitman

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 07:41 AM

QUOTE(Hugues @ Sep 25 2006, 07:30 AM) View Post

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! smile.gif

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.


#4 Hugues

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 09:56 AM

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, 25 September 2006 - 11:49 AM.


#5 Hugues

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 10:51 AM

QUOTE(Andy Whitman @ Sep 25 2006, 02:41 PM) View Post


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.


#6 Greg P

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 10:35 PM

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.



#7 Hugues

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Posted 26 September 2006 - 01:38 AM

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. smile.gif

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, 26 September 2006 - 02:54 AM.


#8 Christian

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Posted 26 September 2006 - 05:41 AM

QUOTE(Hugues @ Sep 26 2006, 02:38 AM) View Post

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? wink.gif

#9 Tony Watkins

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Posted 26 September 2006 - 05:50 AM

QUOTE(nardis @ Sep 26 2006, 04:42 AM) View Post

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.


#10 Hugues

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Posted 26 September 2006 - 06:14 AM

QUOTE(Christian @ Sep 26 2006, 12:41 PM) View Post

QUOTE(Hugues @ Sep 26 2006, 02:38 AM) View Post

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? wink.gif


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? smile.gif


#11 Hugues

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Posted 26 September 2006 - 06:30 AM

QUOTE(nardis @ Sep 26 2006, 05:42 AM) View Post

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, 26 September 2006 - 06:31 AM.


#12 Hugues

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Posted 26 September 2006 - 07:23 AM

QUOTE(Tony Watkins @ Sep 26 2006, 12:50 PM) View Post

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 é Gal - I unfortunately couldn't find Cinema Olympia...)

Thinking about it, it's fascinating how all musics are connected: you find swing in Hank Williams honky tonk, and in the current Paste number they explain Bob Wills has nothing to do with country music if you except the hat. smile.gif


#13 Christian

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Posted 26 September 2006 - 09:16 AM

QUOTE(Hugues @ Sep 26 2006, 07:14 AM) View Post

QUOTE(Christian @ Sep 26 2006, 12:41 PM) View Post

QUOTE(Hugues @ Sep 26 2006, 02:38 AM) View Post

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? wink.gif


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? smile.gif


Yes.

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

#14 Andy Whitman

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Posted 26 September 2006 - 09:41 AM

QUOTE(Hugues @ Sep 26 2006, 07:14 AM) View Post

I will purchase Sarah Vaughan later - any special recommendation? smile.gif

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.

#15 Hugues

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Posted 26 September 2006 - 09:42 AM

Thanks. I had never heard of Mel Tormé before!

I'm actually just getting into Sinatra, his ballads side, with In the Wee Small Hours and Where Are You.

#16 Hugues

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Posted 26 September 2006 - 09:58 AM

QUOTE(Christian @ Sep 26 2006, 04:16 PM) View Post

QUOTE(Hugues @ Sep 26 2006, 07:14 AM) View Post


I will purchase Sarah Vaughan later - any special recommendation? smile.gif


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


#17 Christian

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Posted 26 September 2006 - 10:21 AM

QUOTE(Hugues @ Sep 26 2006, 10:58 AM) View Post

QUOTE(Christian @ Sep 26 2006, 04:16 PM) View Post

QUOTE(Hugues @ Sep 26 2006, 07:14 AM) View Post


I will purchase Sarah Vaughan later - any special recommendation? smile.gif


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.

QUOTE
.

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.

QUOTE
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.


QUOTE(Hugues @ Sep 26 2006, 10:42 AM) View Post

Thanks. I had never heard of Mel Tormé before!


If you're coming to him fresh, count your blessings. Folks my age (35) grew up thinking of Torme as a punchline -- the guy who appeared occasionally on "Night Court." But this guy could sing. I own one other 2-disc set of Torme's work, but it rarely gets played. Swings Schubert Alley is the one to own, IMHO.

Hugues, I want to second Andy's earlier recommendation of the Penguin Jazz Guide. The All Music Guide is good as well, but if you pick up the Penguin guide, you'll note that several of the "starred" releases -- the titles singled out by the authors are exceptional in their eyes -- are the ones I mention in this thread. Such has been the influence of that guide on my thinking.

#18 DanBuck

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Posted 26 September 2006 - 10:33 AM

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

#19 TexasSara

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Posted 26 September 2006 - 10:56 AM

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.

#20 Hugues

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Posted 26 September 2006 - 11:07 AM

QUOTE(DanBuck @ Sep 26 2006, 05:33 PM) View Post

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). smile.gif

Nina Simone is really unique.