Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Top 50 Jazz Albums of All Time

- through the eyes of Florida jazz musicians!!

Just a little heads up - this month-long undertaking resulted in a marathon posting; so warm up that scrolling finger, grab a snack, put on one of your own favorite jazz recordings and enjoy!

Recently, we tried to find a "best selling jazz albums" list on the internet. This turned out to be much harder than we ever thought. Neither Billboard nor the RIAA had one. While perusing the RIAA website - we found that outside of Norah Jones, no jazz artist had sold enough albums to be included on their 200 best sellers (recently downsized to 100). "Kind of Blue" has thus far sold a measly 4 million copies. We turned to their best-selling artist tally: still more intrigue! Kenny G. is the 27th best selling artist of all time, Frank Sinatra is the next jazz act to follow at #72.

After these initial shocks - we decided to make our own list. Florida is such a huge state, with so many diverse regions, and an influx of people and talent from all over the country, as well as the world. Why not ask as many jazz musicians in the Sunshine State as we could for their lists of favorite jazz albums? We'd have a good idea of what was viewed as important and noteworthy from the people who actually make the music.
So we did! North to South, Gulf to Atlantic, young, old, well-known and underground - as many as would or could do it, we got 'em. The results were both justifying and surprising, wonderfully diverse and, in proper jazz fashion, occasionally eccentric. The number one slot was a no-brainer, but look at that number two! Also there are glaring omissions - no Thelonious, no Getz!! (Both made the top 20 list of artists with the most albums entered, however.) There were well over 200 different albums submitted.

On to the results. First let's meet our participating jazz artists in alphabetical order. Click on their names to be taken to their own websites.

Zach Bartholomew - piano - Tallahassee
Les Blachut - vibraphone - Coconut Creek
Sid Blair - saxophone - Ormond Beach
Gary Burton - vibraphone - Ft Lauderdale
Ed Calle - saxophone - Miami
Frank Capek - bass - Palm Coast
Jason Cook - guitar - Orlando
Pat D'Aguanno - saxophone - Palm Coast
Bill Doyle - drums - Palm Coast
Don Durkee - piano - Palm Coast
Sammy Figueroa - percussion - Miami
Sybil Gage - vocalist - Cocoa Beach
Ermesc Gonzalez - guitar - Plant City
George Grosman - guitar/vocals - Orlando
Matt Heister - guitar - Palm Bay
Kenny MacKenzie - piano - Palm Coast
Scott Mariash - drums - Orange Park
Turk Mauro - saxophone - Miami
Gay Messick - drums - Ormond Beach
James Murphy - drums - Ormond Beach
Longineu Parsons - trumpet - Tallahassee
John Pellegrino - bass - Ormond Beach
Jack Pierson - piano - St. Augustine
Jeremy Powell - saxophone - Tampa
Sal Ronci - trumpet - Ormond Beach
Les Sabler - guitar - Tampa
John Shaffer - guitar - Jacksonville
Mike Tarrani - drums - Deltona
Marc Vee - guitar - Estero
Greg Wier - saxophone - St. Augustine

And now the list!

1 - Miles Davis - Kind of Blue

"Miles Davis, generally speaking, was the most influential jazz musician of the past fifty years, introducing a host of majorly talented players through his bands, and pretty much reshaping  the current style of jazz every decade (Birth of the Cool '49, Kind of Blue '59, Bitches Brew '69)." - Gary Burton (6 time grammy winning vibraphonist) visit Gary's website

2. Hank Mobley - Soul Station
"One of my favorite straight-ahead albums. This album swings hard and I love all of Hank’s solos. The sidemen sound great too!" -Zach Bartholomew (pianist)
visit Zach's website

3. Dave Brubeck Quartet - Time Out

Certified platinum, peaking at #2 on Billboard's pop album chart. "Take Five" reached #25 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart. Paul Desmond left the rights to royalties of his compositions to the American Red Cross - who receives approx. $100,000 a year from this gift!

4. Bill Evans Trio - Portrait in Jazz

"Bill Evans influenced practically every young musician coming up in the 60s, especially the piano players, of course." - Gary Burton

5. John Coltrane - Coltrane's Sound

"My favorite Coltrane album and time period. The re-harmonization on Body and Soul is so beautiful."
- Ed Calle (grammy nominated saxophonist)
visit Ed's website

6. The Quintet - Jazz at Massey Hall

Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Charles Mingus, Max Roach. This is the only recording with these 5 together, and the last time Parker and Gillespie would meet. Massey Hall is in Toronto. The Toronto New Jazz Society made the recording, which was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1995.

7. Charles Mingus - Mingus Ah Um

"Timeless, could have been recorded yesterday."
- Bill Doyle (drummer)  visit Bill's website

8. Miles Davis - Porgy and Bess

"Gil's arrangements were great. He wrote an arrangement for me to play on 'I Loves You Porgy' and he wrote a scale that I was supposed to play. No chords. He had used two chords for the other voicing, and so my passage of scales with those two chords gives you a lot of freedom and space to hear other things." - Miles Davis

9. Sonny Rollins - Newk's Time

In 1957, Rollins recorded this classic, along with "Way Out West", "A Night at the Village Vanguard" and "Sonny Rollins Vol 2". Rollins turned 81 this past September.

10. Freddie Hubbard - Red Clay

"The high point I would say was when I was with CTI records. He (Creed Taylor) had some ideas for me that really catapulted my career. He went and got me a grammy...  Creed said "write a hit". So I wrote Red Clay, and all my friends who were jazz musicians said "Man why you writin' that square stuff!". But that tune has earned me a living. And it reminded me of my early childhood when I was back in Indianapolis." - Freddie Hubbard

11. Chick Corea - Akoustic Band
12. Louis Armstrong - Ambassador Satch
13. Charlie Parker - Bird with Strings
14. Ornette Coleman - The Shape of Jazz to Come
15. Chick Corea - Now He Sings, Now He Sobs
16. John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman
17. Art Blakey - A Night at Birdland
18. John Coltrane - Blue Train
19. Wes Montgomery - Full House
20. Stan Kenton - Contemporary Concepts
21. John Coltrane - Giant Steps
22. Larry Coryell - Spaces
23. Dexter Gordon - For All We Know

24. Wynton Kelly Trio/Wes Montgomery - Smokin' at the Half Note

"When I listen to Wes on this recording, the master and innovator's spirit comes alive and I feel like I am sitting in a jazz club listening to him." - Les Sabler (guitarist)

25. Oliver Nelson - The Blues and the Abstract Truth
26. Sonny Rollins - The Bridge
27. Frank Sinatra and Count Basie - Sinatra & Basie
28. Joe Henderson - Mode for Joe
29. Miles Davis Quintet - Relaxin'
30. Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Giants
31. Oscar Peterson Trio - Jazz at the Philharmonic
32. Bill Evans - You're Gonna Hear From Me
33. Charlie Parker and Lester Young - Bird and Pres
34. George Benson - Breezin'
35. Chick Corea - Piano Improvisations

36. Duke Ellington - Ellington at Newport

"This is classic Ellington, recorded live at the American Jazz Festival at Newport, Rhode Island, on July 7, 1956. You have to hear "Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue".....This features tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves in a 27...yes 27 chorus solo, never repeating himself. Gonsalves was my favorite sax player when I was growing up." - Pat D'Aguanno (saxophonist)

37. Al Jarreau - Look to the Rainbow

"A turning point for me in my jazz incubation; have not been the same since hearing this when it was first issued." - Sybil Gage (vocalist)

38. Miles Davis - Four & More

"I love this because of Tony Williams. He was 17 years old and the most creative drummer in history. Tony drove that band into the future." - Sammy Figueroa (grammy nominated percussionist)

39. Chet Baker  - Sings
40. Charlie Parker & Dizzy Gillespie - At Birdland Vol 2
41. Arturo Sandoval - I Remember Clifford
42. Gonzalo Rubalcaba - Suite 4 y 20
43. Lee Konitz - Subconscious-Lee

44. Miles Davis - Bitches Brew

"This recording brings together the cultural and musical elements of that time. It's not a demonstration of technique but a real artistic statement. Every note that Miles played was exactly right, nothing wasted." - Longineu Parsons (legendary trumpeter)

45. Miles Davis - Round About Midnight
46. Woody Herman - 1964
47. Miles Davis - Sorcerer
48. Phil Woods - Live at the Showboat
49. Sam Cardon, Kurt Bestor - Innovators

50. Django Reinhardt - Intégrale Django Reinhardt

(The 40 disc collection of every recorded take and there is not a single bad song. I could honestly pick any one of these 40 discs and play for a jazz newbie and instantly have them hooked. My favorite is on disc #6. "Bouncing Around". Pure passion!!!" - Jason Cook (guitarist)

There's an instant, well-rounded jazz library if there ever was one! Palm Coast Jazz is indebted to and would like to thank all the fine artists that took the time to undertake the difficult task of selecting only 10 albums to represent their lifelong love affair with jazz. We'd especially like to thank the following artists for graciously donating their time and lists to little ol' us:

Gary Burton! - Gary clearly needs no introduction: Breaking ground in the late 60's fusing jazz and rock, a grammy-winning solo vibraphone concert at the 1971 Montreux Jazz Festival, famous quartets and celebrated collaborations with Chick Corea. The cd "Common Ground" by The New Gary Burton Quartet was named one of the top 10 jazz records of 2011 by Jazz Times! Click here to sample and buy this impressive release. Gary's new cd with Chick Corea coming out Spring 2012 is entitled "Hot House".

Sammy Figueroa! - The master percussionist has played with everybody; from Chet Baker, Sonny Rollins and George Benson to Celine Dion, David Bowie and James Taylor. His last 2 albums with his Latin Jazz Explosion were nominated for Latin Jazz grammys - and their latest release "Urban Nature", on Senator Records, is continuing on that path of excellence. This album is both hot and sophisticated. Click here to check it out and buy yourself a copy.

Turk Mauro! - As if years playing in Buddy Rich's band (76-79) weren't enough credentials, Turk has also played with Dizzy Gillespie, Zoot Sims, Al Cohn, Billy Mitchell and Richie Cole. It was his group that opened the brand new Blue Note club in NYC in 1981. Turk is now wowing crowds in South Florida. You can learn about these gigs here, and to see which of his classic albums are available - click here.

Longineu Parsons! The internationally acclaimed trumpet player is the protogé of Nat Adderley. His resume is astounding: Cab Calloway, Cecil Taylor, Nancy Wilson, Joe Williams, Herbie Mann, Frank Foster, Mal Waldron, Philly Joe Jones, Archie Shepp, Sun Ra, Sam Rivers & many more. Longineu is a multi-instrumentalist who has performed in 30 countries. He is featured on many of the fine releases from Tribal Records - you can browse and order them by clicking here.

Ed Calle!  Ed has appears on Grammy-award-winning albums by Frank Sinatra, Vicky Carr, Arturo Sandoval, and Jon Secada, but it doesn't stop there. He's recorded or performed with the likes of Gloria Estefan, Julio Iglesias, Michael Bolton, Bob James, Bobby Caldwell, Rihanna, Extreme, and Vanessa Williams. His own albums have gotten him 2 grammy nominations in the Latin Jazz category. Also a member of the Miami Saxophone Quartet, Calle has earned a Doctor of Higher Education Leadership. Click here to sample and buy his many releases.

Still with us? Great! We've got one more list derived from our poll:

The artists with the most poll appearances:

1. Miles Davis - 25
2. John Coltrane - 17
3. Bill Evans - 12
4. Charlie Parker - 11
5. Chick Corea - 10
6. Dizzy Gillespie - 8
7. Count Basie - 7
8. Sonny Rollins - 7
9. Stan Getz - 6
10. Dave Brubeck - 5

Well, there you have it! An insight into the way jazz musicians view jazz, as well as how they are affected and shaped by it. Interestingly - the aforementioned platinum sellers and their compadres may have all the money - but not one of them even received a vote in our poll. They may make nice music, perfect for romantic dinners or shopping for home decor, but jazz is more than making money or tinkling silverware - it's about touching the heart and reaching lives; transporting them to other worlds. And grooving, of course. Thank you for reading - don't forget to support live and local jazz! Peace - PCJ

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