Building a Jazz Library

There's more to jazz than Kenny G and Wynton Marsalis.

That's why we created Building A Jazz Library. With this resource, you can home in on the players and styles essential to the past and future of jazz. Each section in this series features a brief introduction which provides some background and biographical information to shed light on each particular artist or style.

Then we list the discs. You'll find landmark material here, true high-water marks worthy of respect and attention. We recruited a special enthusiast to assemble each section in this series. These people have spent a lot of time with the subject (and probably bought way too many records to back it up). We assure you that the nuggets listed here are carefully considered and on-target.

If you're new to Jazz -- or new to an artist or style -- treat Building A Jazz Library as a primer of sorts. It will provide you with enough information to step confidently into the store (or the library) and find something tasty. Or if you're a serious collector, you might just find that a few of these recommendations may fill some gaping holes on your shelf.

Building A Jazz Library throws its doors wide open to all different kinds of Jazz fans and interests. Certain sounds may mesh with your particular tastes, and this series aims to bring you and the music together in perfect harmony. So dig in, and enjoy!

Essential Buying Tips for Building a Jazz Collection on a Budget.


BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Rare and Unusual Instruments in Jazz

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Historically the cornet was the quintessential jazz instrument but over a century of its evolution other instruments have also become part of the regular jazz armamentarium. These include common ones such as the piano, saxophone, bass and drums to the more occasionally appearing violin, clarinet and other percussion instruments. There are few, however, that exhibit unique sounds and though infrequently utilized within the jazz mainstream, represent a fresh and delightfully unusual approach to the music by its ingenious practitioners.

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Bill Evans: Sublime Sideman

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We already know what a tremendous voice Bill Evans has had in jazz history, and most of the major jazz pianists that he has influenced. Most jazz aficionados know most of the tunes Evans has composed and most of the tunes that were in his ever-changing repertoire. But, a subject that hardly gets enough attention concerning Evans are his superlative skills as a consummate sideman. What we're discussing are two totally separate categories. It takes a certain kind of mentality ...

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Art Pepper

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Alto Saxophonist Arthur Edward Pepper, Jr. (1925-1982) wanted to be known as the “greatest alto saxophonist in the world," a tall order considering contemporaries like Charlie Parker, Johnny Hodges, and Paul Desmond. In spite of this, Pepper outlived all of them while forging a unique and personal sound. Pepper, along with Desmond and Lee Konitz, were among the few small-combo saxophonists able to forge an individual sound despite the long shadow of Bird. Art Pepper's professional career can ...

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

The Ten Best Live Jazz Recordings (1953-65)

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Having recently completed a survey of the Best Live Rock Albums, I have learned a couple of valuable things. One is a list of this sort should be presented in descending order starting with number 10 and descending to number 1. Second, it is better to poll a group for their opinions and develop the list from an analytical (or pseudoanalytical) evaluation of the results. This is how the Top Ten Best Live Jazz Recordings (1953-65) were selected. I polled ...

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Bill Evans

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Arguably the greatest jazz pianist of the 1960s and '70s, Bill Evans is generally acknowledged as the most influential pianist since Bud Powell and a primary influence on players such as Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea. Evans co-wrote Kind Of Blue with Miles Davis and some consider the pianist's Sunday At The Village Vanguard the best piano trio album ever. Evans is also credited with advancing harmonic and voicing structures, and pioneering modern trio format elements such as giving sidemen ...

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Creed Taylor Productions, Part 1

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Part 1 | Part 2 The place in jazz history held by Creed Taylor is impeccable, stylish, and essential. He produced some of the best music for some of the best labels dedicated to jazz, then formed his own label and with meticulous preparation and his musician's ear kept on making great jazz records. Taylor began as a producer for Bethlehem Records, where his work with Charles Mingus stands among the label's best. In 1960, ...

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Creed Taylor Productions, Part 2

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Part 1 | Part 2 The place in jazz history held by Creed Taylor is impeccable, stylish, and essential. He produced some of the best music for some of the best labels dedicated to jazz, then formed his own label and with meticulous preparation and his musician's ear kept on making great jazz records. Taylor began as a producer for Bethlehem Records, where his work with Charles Mingus stands among the label's best. In 1960, ...

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Thelonious Monk

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Thelonious Sphere Monk is one of the true great jazz originals. Monk's family moved from North Carolina to jny: New York City while he was still an infant. He began piano lessons around age 12, playing Harlem rent parties then graduating to Harlem clubs such as Minton's Playhouse. Monk often played with Dizzy Gillespie and Coleman Hawkins through the early 1940s. As Minton's house pianist, Monk was entrenched as THE bebop pianist: At Minton's, with Gillespie, ...



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