2,000 Recordings of the Most Essential Jazz Music – Fine Art in the New Media


“‘I used to see all these great musicians,'” Rollins said. “There was Coleman Hawkins, and his Cadillac and those wonderful suits he wore. Just standing on the corner, I could see Duke Ellington, Andy Kirk, Don Redman, Benny Carter, Sid Catlett, Jimmy Crawford, Charlie Shavers, Al Hall, Denzil Best, and all these kinds of men.’Those guys commanded respect in the way they carried themselves. You knew something was very true when you saw Coleman Hawkins or any of these people. They were not pretending.'”
(Stanley Crouch on Sonny Rollins, The New Yorker, 9 May 2005, p66) (Quoted in Mr. Porter)

Jazz: History

(Selections below re-blogged from Josh Jones, Open Culture)

“There’s an incredibly rich history of jazz, broadly known, especially to those who have seen Ken Burns’ expansive documentary. I’d also recommend the excellent jazz writing of Amiri Baraka, Stanley Crouch, or Philip Larkin. For the young, we might consult Langston Hughes’ illustrated jazz history.'”

Jazz : Standards

“One thing … every jazz musician knows is this: Standards, a common compendium of songs in the tradition. Even some of the most innovative jazz artists who more or less invented their own scales, modes, and harmonies—like Cecil Taylor and Ornette Coleman—either studied at conservatory or paid their dues as sidemen playing other people’s songs. Jazz—Coleman once told Jacques Derrida—is “’a conversation with sounds.” Its underlying grammar comes from the Standards.'”

Until fairly recently, the only way one could get a proper education in the standards was on the job. Critic, jazz historian, and pianist Ted Gioia writes as much in his comprehensive 2012 reference, The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire. Gioia’s “education in this music was happenstance and hard earned.” He writes, “’aspiring musicians today can hardly imagine how opaque the art form was just a few decades ago—no school I attended had a jazz program or even offered a single course on jazz.’”

Jazz: Fine Art in the New Media

“[Ted] Gioia—who has served on the faculty at Stanford University and been called “one of the outstanding music historians in America’”—offers an exceptional guide to the Standards, one we can not only read, but also, thanks to Jim Higgins of the Journal Sentinel, listen to, in the Spotify playlist above.”

(“If you need Spotify’s free software, download it here.) In a companion essay, Higgins describes the process of compiling “as many of the performances [Gioia] recommended” in his commentary on 250 jazz standards.”


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“Gioia names over 2,000 different performances of those 250 standards, and the playlist contains nearly all of them. You’ll find, for example, “’several different recordings of ‘In a Sentimental Mood’ by the composer (including one with John Coltrane), as well as versions by Sonny Rollins, Art Tatum, McCoy Tyner, Abdullah Ibrahim and Buddy Tate, and Chris Potter.’” While the playlist is “’not a complete reflection of Gioia’s recommendations,” given that certain artists’ work cannot be streamed, “there’s a lot of music here”—a whole lot—“spanning a century.’”

Jazz: Some of the Greats

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2 comments on “2,000 Recordings of the Most Essential Jazz Music – Fine Art in the New Media

  1. Fantastic resource! Thanks for this blog. As we used to say “Whatever Stan wants Stan Getz!”

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