Published since 2001
Jeff Fitzgerald is AAJ's resident genius and is often consulted on jazz-related matters of national unimportance.
An appropriate gift for the ignorant but receptive newcomer would be the CD The Best of Ken Burns' Jazz , which contains a little bit of everything from the earliest days of recorded jazz to the point where Burns lost interest in the whole thing and started thinking about his next 20-hour film. In fact, there are several items from the Ken Burns' Jazz collection worth recommending, up to and including the Ken Burns' Jazz jar-and-bottle opener and the Ken Burns' Jazz flavored body oils. The entire 4-CD box set is probably a good gift for a more thorough introduction for those you feel close enough to that you would spend $60 on them, and the $170 10-DVD set of the entire documentary is probably only for those with whom you've exchanged bodily fluids.
For the outright hostile, it is important for us to present jazz with as little pretense as possible. Compelling arguments could be made for Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, who certainly made accessible music. I tend to gravitate towards John Coltrane's Blue Train or Miles Davis' Kind of Blue as an introduction to jazz. Intimate, passionate, melodic but challenging, they represent to me a cohesive apex of everything jazz should be without being so deliberately oblique as to alienate even those predisposed to dislike jazz. And they both have the word "blue" in the title and everybody likes blue.
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