Rolling 2011 thread where I buy and listen to jazz albums for the first time ever

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i think that for people with "rock ears", jazz with a lot of chord changes & harmonic complexity can be the toughest stuff to "hear" and get into. imo that's why the modal/drone-based/free stuff is most popular with non-jazz heads (also why kind of blue is so appealing, besides the amazing solos/vibe...it sounds like most people's idea of swinging modern jazz, with non-challenging changes).

bows don't kill people, arrows do (Jordan), Thursday, 20 January 2011 16:11 (3 years ago) Permalink

the real tradition that rap gets from jazz is the density of the ideas/messaging coming across over a short period of time that is simultaneously open for anyone to follow, but works as kind of an insider language for ppl steeped in the music.

― *gets the power* (deej), Thursday, January 20, 2011 8:09 AM (1 minute ago) Bookmark

boom

normal_fantasy-unicorns (contenderizer), Thursday, 20 January 2011 16:13 (3 years ago) Permalink

thread is getting unweildy...

I love it. Rest assured I'll be compiling a huge list of recommendations from these posts and keeping them in mind as I explore in the coming months. Thanks everyone!

ilxor, Thursday, 20 January 2011 16:14 (3 years ago) Permalink

that totally makes sense, but it's a different case since lex is already very familiar with the vocabulary and aesthetics of the genre. but whatevs, just jump in head-first and sort it all out later.

bows don't kill people, arrows do (Jordan), Thursday, 20 January 2011 16:14 (3 years ago) Permalink

im trying to 'get along better' w ilxors at the moment but suffice 2 say that in an older era i would rmde at ppl recommending 'rock-friendly' jazz records & saying 'on the corner' is the best jazz album ever

but whatever way gets u in i guess

― *gets the power* (deej), Thursday, January 20, 2011 10:54 AM Bookmark

Yeah. I mean tbh I'm not even sure what makes On The Corner a jazz record other than the names of the players on it; It sounds more like krautrock to me. Still a great record.

hey boys, suppers on me, our video just went bacterial (Hurting 2), Thursday, 20 January 2011 16:15 (3 years ago) Permalink

also there are already bunch of threads where people recommend all the classic records for first-time listeners, but i do look forward to your reactions coming at all this stuff for the first time.

bows don't kill people, arrows do (Jordan), Thursday, 20 January 2011 16:15 (3 years ago) Permalink

Btw, I owned Kind of Blue back in lolcollege days. Think I played it a couple times, saw it as a "traditional" jazz record but given I have basically zero knowledge of jazz theory/structure/etc. and wasn't invested in exploring the genre as a whole, I clearly need to hear it again with an open, more patient mind.

Take it easy on yrself - I don't think you need to worry too much about theory etc to enjoy Kind of Blue! It's all about mood and feeling, same thing with a lot of the records that got people into jazz.

seminal fuiud (NickB), Thursday, 20 January 2011 16:17 (3 years ago) Permalink

I mean tbh I'm not even sure what makes On The Corner a jazz record other than the names of the players on it; It sounds more like krautrock to me.

I will have more to say on this soon, but suffice to say from initial spins that I've gotten a similar impression.

ilxor, Thursday, 20 January 2011 16:17 (3 years ago) Permalink

If you like your hip-hop funny:

From the guys who brought you Fay Weldon (Eazy), Thursday, 20 January 2011 16:22 (3 years ago) Permalink

flopson, Thursday, 20 January 2011 16:51 (3 years ago) Permalink

I mean LOL okay but really, back to jazz, k?

ilxor, Thursday, 20 January 2011 16:59 (3 years ago) Permalink

john legend ftw

normal_fantasy-unicorns (contenderizer), Thursday, 20 January 2011 17:03 (3 years ago) Permalink

seminal fuiud (NickB), Thursday, 20 January 2011 17:03 (3 years ago) Permalink

Just a heads up, I've compiled all the artist/album recommendations to date and I've got 45 distinct albums, along with eight artists being namedropped without attachments to specific albums. I'll go shopping in the coming weeks, lots of listening, and post thoughts on various albums as I familiarize myself with them. Really good stuff, guys -- thanks!

ilxor, Thursday, 20 January 2011 17:39 (3 years ago) Permalink

Based on what you've said in this thread, my 2 absolute recommendations would be these two albums:


Joe Henderson featuring Alice Coltrane - The Elements


Herbie Hancock - Sextant

Both are kinda droney, kinda psychedelic early 70s albums with interesting electronic experimentation. If you like Miles' stuff from this era, you can't really go wrong with these two. The Elements is more organic, with some hippie flavour, cool electric violin playing, and even a bit of spoken word poetry (but not so much it would distract you from the instrumentalists). The Sextant is more electronic and experimental, with synths that are totally out there (especially on the first tune). Both are five star albums featuring some excellent performers at the height of their powers.

Tuomas, Friday, 21 January 2011 13:07 (3 years ago) Permalink

Whoops, sorry, the Elements pic is huge.

Tuomas, Friday, 21 January 2011 13:09 (3 years ago) Permalink

Thanks v. much for the recommendations, those look great!

I had my first big "HOOOOLY SHIT" moment this morning with a jazz record. Honestly, wasn't expecting it to hit so hard, or so soon. I'm not gonna say what record it was yet (I'll get to that in time) but suffice to say I'm thrilled.

ilxor, Friday, 21 January 2011 14:27 (3 years ago) Permalink

Another vote for Sextant - coming from a similar background to you, this was the first jazz album that made sense for me.

Can your monkey do the Bot? (seandalai), Friday, 21 January 2011 14:39 (3 years ago) Permalink

great thread, buncha albums mentioned so far that I need to hear too

Mangrove Earthshoe (herb albert), Friday, 21 January 2011 14:43 (3 years ago) Permalink

Other favourite albums that haven't been mentioned yet:

Miles Davis - Bitches Brew
Albert Ayler - Live in Greenwich Village
Ornette Coleman - Chappaqua Suite
Rahsaan Roland Kirk - Natural Black Inventions: Root Strata
The Mike Westbrook Concert Band - Marching Song

Maybe not essential, but if you're into 70s spiritual electronic jazz I'm very fond of Roland P. Young - Isophonic Boogie Woogie.

I'm looking forward to keeping up with this thread; my jazz knowledge is kind of patchy even within my favourite eras/styles and I've never really listened to much John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Art Ensemble of Chicago or Cecil Taylor for example, even though what I've heard has been fantastic. Also, some musicians have just never clicked with me and I'd like to try again, e.g. Eric Dolphy, Anthony Braxton.

Can your monkey do the Bot? (seandalai), Friday, 21 January 2011 14:50 (3 years ago) Permalink

Nice -- appreciate the recommendations! I used to have Bitches Brew on vinyl in college days, I actually brought it over to my wife's place one night, early 2006, one of our first dates -- we played it while we cooked dinner together. I sold off all my vinyl at some point that year (only about 40-50 records, probably) since CDs were cheaper, easier to find, portable, etc., but always meant to buy Bitches Brew again at some point. So, I'll do that.

I've never been sold on vinyl as an ideal format, needless to say. Sounds like a CD with an array of pops, skips and static depending on the age/condition of the record, and often at a higher price tag given the vinyl resurgence in the '00s. That's another discussion of course...

ilxor, Friday, 21 January 2011 15:01 (3 years ago) Permalink

Miles Davis - On the Corner (1972)

This is very dissimilar to what I think of as "jazz" (very broadly speaking) but doesn't come to me as a huge shock, given what I've heard anecdotally about this era's Miles Davis albums drawing from funk and similar touchstones. Before I heard this record, I could've be told this was an extended jam session from, say, Funkadelic or Can, and I wouldn't really bat an eye. Perhaps this record wouldn't be of interest to someone invested in more traditional/classic jazz styles, but it's served as a gentle (if not entirely representative) entry point to jazz given my background and interests in other genres.

On the Corner doesn't blow me away on first listen, but it sounds like a record that'll grow on me over time. There's a lot going on simultaneously in the mix (my daughter was OTM in saying "everyone's going crazy all at once") and my impression is that this record's all about the underlying groove, the repetitions that the rhythm section locks into immediately as the record starts, staying with these patterns for 10-15 minutes at a time, and accordingly letting Miles do his thing on the horn (I presume that's him!), which sounds scattershot and randomly deployed at times while the rhythm stays locked in, providing structure.

I've been able to get lost in this album not unlike a krautrock record (Can strikes me as a fair reference point). Once playing, the pieces don't drag or seem too long, instead tending to fly by quickly; yesterday I looked at the playing time thinking I was a couple minutes into "Helen Butte/Mr. Freedom X" and instead it was halfway over, double digit running time by then.

I take it this record is not a commonplace sound in the Miles catalogue, or within jazz in general, but I do enjoy this record a lot on initial spins. There's a groove to it all the way through, a swagger in its rhythmic step that keeps it engaging and lively for me, the novice jazz listener. I'm sure there's a method to the madness of Miles' horn playing that I'm not familiar with that I'll understand more fully at some point.

Rating: ✰✰✰✰ (out of possible 5 stars)

ilxor, Friday, 21 January 2011 16:11 (3 years ago) Permalink

You should listen to "Rated X" by Miles Davis off Get Up With It (which I think was On the Corner outtakes). It's incredible. Unfortunately all the versions on Youtube are weird remix things.

matt2, Friday, 21 January 2011 16:42 (3 years ago) Permalink

^^^glad we're finally getting around to discussion of some specific albums

the jazz community really hated OTC in general, Stanley Crouch still hates it

ex-heroin addict tricycle (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, 21 January 2011 16:43 (3 years ago) Permalink

On the Corner doesn't blow me away on first listen, but it sounds like a record that'll grow on me over time.

I don't wanna go into it to the degree I could (I wrote a whole book on '70s Miles and OTC had its own chapter), but yeah, this is definitely true. I've been listening to it for about 20 years at this point and I still feel like I hear something new every time. And yeah, it's unique in Davis's catalog - nothing else he ever did, in the '70s or at any other point, sounds anything like it. Most of his other funk stuff is more trancey and relaxed (in the studio, anyway; live, the band was basically instrumental Westbound-era Funkadelic gone even more metal, plus horns). None of it is as twitchy or as ridiculously studio-manipulated as On the Corner.

that's not funny. (unperson), Friday, 21 January 2011 16:44 (3 years ago) Permalink

nowadays OTC is the canonical favorite of Miles' electric/funk period - which also includes Get Up With It, Big Fun, Agharta, Pangea, Tribute to Jack Johnson, In a Silent Way, and Bitches Brew (I may have even forgot one or two there). THere are some amazing youtube clips of the OTC era band (Pete Cosey!) floating around

ex-heroin addict tricycle (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, 21 January 2011 16:45 (3 years ago) Permalink

unperson's right that OTC stands out from the other albums of the period though - it's more chopped up, more aggressive, without any of the real spacey/trancey stuff that would come to the fore on the other records

ex-heroin addict tricycle (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, 21 January 2011 16:46 (3 years ago) Permalink

as ridiculously studio-manipulated as On the Corner

it's more chopped up

Sounds like it's time I read up a bit on how this album was actually created, then.

Duly noted re: "Rated X" and various notes on electric Miles, btw, I'll keep an eye out for that stuff. Thanks!

ilxor, Friday, 21 January 2011 16:47 (3 years ago) Permalink

same basic era not an OTC track btw (this popped up on Agharta/Pangea/Dark Magus iirc?)

ex-heroin addict tricycle (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, 21 January 2011 16:48 (3 years ago) Permalink

Sounds like it's time I read up a bit on how this album was actually created, then.

Teo Macero, master of editing

ex-heroin addict tricycle (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, 21 January 2011 16:48 (3 years ago) Permalink

Can we have a quick discussion on fidelity/sound quality and jazz CD reissues?

So, full disclosure, I picked up the Columbia Jazz Masterpieces CD version of On the Corner (the one that says "Digitally Remastered From The Original Analog Masters" across the top, has a blue border around the edges) and while I enjoyed it, the trumpet was very low in the mix and the sound seemed a bit muddy or flat. Now, I'd seen the newer reissues floating around before, so swung by another record shop a couple days later and grabbed the Columbia/Legacy reissue -- suddenly the mix seemed to take on new dimensions, the horns were brought up in the mix and I could close my eyes and actually hear the band playing in front of me, so to speak. It was a very noticeable difference!

I've already been told to avoid RVG reissues (saw a couple of these this week, didn't buy...) but what other reissues and/or labels should I keep an eye out for, or avoid?

A couple examples -- I've seen Coltrane stuff on Atlantic (Giant Steps and My Favorite Things, maybe?) in an original CD issue as well as a Rhino reissue in a cardboard-looking sleeve. I've seen Pharaoh Sanders and Alice Coltrane discs on Impulse in jewel cases, and in digipaks (I take it the digipaks are remastered versions, not just repackaged). And of course there's the Miles CD reissues I mentioned a second ago.

What's the best rule of thumb to follow here?

ilxor, Friday, 21 January 2011 16:55 (3 years ago) Permalink

Also seen Mingus and Monk original CD issues vs. reissues with bonus tracks. Seems like Columbia/Legacy does a good # of these?

ilxor, Friday, 21 January 2011 16:57 (3 years ago) Permalink

And the Teo Macero insane chopping/editing thing is what makes "Rated X" so great. Definitely check it out.

matt2, Friday, 21 January 2011 16:59 (3 years ago) Permalink

omg there are so many reissues of Miles' material, sorting through them all is a total clusterfuck

ex-heroin addict tricycle (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, 21 January 2011 16:59 (3 years ago) Permalink

best rule of thumb for me re: jazz recs is to buy high quality vinyl reissues

ex-heroin addict tricycle (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, 21 January 2011 16:59 (3 years ago) Permalink

think it's relevant to emphasize that what makes Macero's editing so amazing a lot of the time is how seamless it is - the juxtaposition of different takes/different material being cut together in a way that is not immediately apparent/jarring to the listener. really pretty revolutionary

ex-heroin addict tricycle (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, 21 January 2011 17:01 (3 years ago) Permalink

in general, the miles legacy CDs are better than the "jazz masterpieces" i think. not just soundwise, but packaging, liners, etc.

tylerw, Friday, 21 January 2011 17:01 (3 years ago) Permalink

The "RVG Editions" of Blue Note titles were all done a few years ago, and sound really good to me. In recent years, though, Rudy Van Gelder (the original producer/engineer back in the 50s, and the source of the "RVG" title) has begun to suffer hearing loss, so his more recent remasters for the Prestige/Fantasy label are not as good as his earlier work. Fortunately, there's not actually that much you can do to or with what were originally two- or four-track recordings, so it's mostly just a matter of them being pushed through the louderizing machine, not making instruments disappear or anything.

The most recent batch of Miles Davis remasters (the ones in the clear plastic jewel cases as opposed to the 80s ones with the blue border, or the 90s ones with the brown border) have been done (or supervised) by Bob Belden, and they sound fantastic across the board. The 60s/70s stuff has been the most improved, to my ear. A lot of stuff pops out that was once buried in mud.

that's not funny. (unperson), Friday, 21 January 2011 17:03 (3 years ago) Permalink

Hey unperson, what was that Miles book you wrote?

matt2, Friday, 21 January 2011 17:04 (3 years ago) Permalink

best rule of thumb for me re: jazz recs is to buy high quality vinyl reissues

I'm a CD guy for convenience reasons. I listen to music mainly in four settings -- in the car (CD only); at work (CD only); while I'm running for 1+ hours at a time, longer runs (iPod, imported to iTunes from CDs); and at home in the evenings (vinyl, CD, or from my laptop in iTunes). Only the last of these four settings allows me to play vinyl, so I've always figured I'm best off sticking to CDs given how music fits into my lifestyle.

Figure I'll stick with the Columbia/Legacy Miles reissues as they seem common to find as well as good quality, but I'd welcome any thoughts on other reissued labels or big artists' catalogs.

Thanks for yr thoughts, unperson, very helpful. I've seen the RVG issue and the Blue Note issue of, say, that Eric Dolphy disc that somebody mentioned upthread. Is there a rule of thumb as to which is best?

ilxor, Friday, 21 January 2011 17:05 (3 years ago) Permalink

The book's called Running The Voodoo Down: The Electric Music of Miles Davis. Amazon link.

Re Dolphy, the 1999 remaster sounds great.

that's not funny. (unperson), Friday, 21 January 2011 17:07 (3 years ago) Permalink

holy shit had no idea that was you. great book!

ex-heroin addict tricycle (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, 21 January 2011 17:17 (3 years ago) Permalink

was always kinda annoyed how Miles' bios/autobios tended to really gloss over the period

ex-heroin addict tricycle (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, 21 January 2011 17:18 (3 years ago) Permalink

Cheers on that book mention, I'll keep an eye out for that one.

ilxor, Friday, 21 January 2011 17:25 (3 years ago) Permalink

Money Jungle was the record that made jazz make sense for me; but any number of Mingus/Miles/Monk/Sun Ra records can work for ears trained to art rock, and I cant imagine going wrong with any recommendations.

I'll stick in one more from the funk era, 'cause it serves as such a great bridge to earlier jazz: Ellington's Afro-Eurasain Eclipse. It's orchestral swing, but with some serious rhythmic craziness.

bendy, Friday, 21 January 2011 17:31 (3 years ago) Permalink

yeah unperson, that book is great

tylerw, Friday, 21 January 2011 17:31 (3 years ago) Permalink

oh, unperson is phil!

bows don't kill people, arrows do (Jordan), Friday, 21 January 2011 17:33 (3 years ago) Permalink

~~~GRAND REVEAL~~~

ilxor, Friday, 21 January 2011 17:34 (3 years ago) Permalink

one of the interesting things about Miles' electric period is how well it exemplifies that weird split in jazz over whether not swing was essential to the genre. Miles (along with a lot of other people already mentioned in this thread) identified improvisation - and specifically collective improvisation - as the essential foundation of his music, swing was just a sort of formalized style that eventually lost its attraction. but for other hardcore "purists" (like Crouch) pretty much anything that didn't swing could not be acceptably classified as "jazz".

wars over genre conventions are fascinating sometimes

ex-heroin addict tricycle (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, 21 January 2011 18:00 (3 years ago) Permalink

The most recent batch of Miles Davis remasters (the ones in the clear plastic jewel cases as opposed to the 80s ones with the blue border, or the 90s ones with the brown border) have been done (or supervised) by Bob Belden, and they sound fantastic across the board.

agree completely. i recently replaced all the 70s miles with these (to the extent that i could find them), and they sound fantastic. speaking of "rated x", get up with it is one of my favorite records period, and i'm glad someone thought to mention it. if i understand correctly, it's basically a clean-up collection of unused tracks, but that gives it an amazing looseness and wtf experimental variety. think that on "rated x" miles just plays sun ra organ chords. anyway, here's a tube:

normal_fantasy-unicorns (contenderizer), Friday, 21 January 2011 18:02 (3 years ago) Permalink

Parker/Drake in general deserve attention. Associated with that crowd, I would also pick out Matthew Shipp. sund4r mentioned E.S.T. I particularly liked Leucocyte.

I'm still a fan of 2003's Assif Tsahar/Cooper-Moore album America (but you might like those two in general).

Maybe a bit off topic, but I've been finding myself going back to Richard Gallo's Urdimbres y Maranas and thinking it's almost as good as I initially thought it was.

_Rudipherous_, Tuesday, 18 June 2013 00:21 (10 months ago) Permalink


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