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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

Art Blakey: The Musical Drummer

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“Jazz Washes Away the Dust of Everyday Life" So said, Abdullah Ibn Buhaina (1919-1990), more widely known to the world of jazz by his pre-Islamic name: Art Blakey. Blakey was my first introduction into the musicality of jazz drumming and, in some senses, my introduction to a lifelong love of jazz. Truly a powerhouse in swing and blues, Blakey led the hard bop playing Jazz Messengers from the 1950s to the 1980s (recording for Blue Note Records between 1947 and 1964), and holding claim to famous alumni such as Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard, Bill Pierce, Branford ...

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Pat Metheny: Quantum Musician

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If Pat Metheny never plays another single note, he would have already lived a “bright size life."Pat Metheny was born in Kansas City in 1954 and first picked up his guitar at the age of twelve. By age fifteen, he was already playing with the top jazz musicians in town. In 1974, he became a part of the international jazz scene and joined a band led by vibraphonist Gary Burton. During this three year stint, he not only made some remarkable albums with Burton, like Passengers and Dreams So Real, but also produced his own debut album as ...

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Bulletin Board Members' Picks

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Since we started the Building a Jazz Library (BAJL) series, we've assembled more than sixty collections, and that number continues to grow. We thought it might be interesting to see what readers would recommend, so we asked AAJ Bulletin Board members to provide a short list of recordings they considered essential, and the 159 different lists that came in over a six-month period added up to a tremendously diverse collection of music. The following thirteen recordings (listed in rank order) were most frequently mentioned by readers in their BAJL lists. Most of them were released over the ...

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

McCoy Tyner

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Some jazz fans only have a partial acquaintance with McCoy Tyner, that being that “he was Coltrane's pianist." Indeed, it is fairly common to know McCoy Tyner only through his stellar contributions as a sideman in the 1960s, not only with Coltrane but also with Wayne Shorter, Bobby Hutcherson and Joe Henderson. Along with 'Trane, these are simply the records that everybody has heard McCoy play on.Suffice it to say that McCoy's career doesn't end there and that since Coltrane he has been able to become quite a viable leader and important musical voice himself. Moreover, while the ...

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Tomasz Stanko

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Trumpeter and composer Tomasz Stanko (b. 1942 Rzeszow, Poland) was present at the birth of modern European jazz. He's most closely associated with the man who was at the center of seemingly all art forms in Poland in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Krzysztof Komeda. Although his early work has been described, even by himself, as “free" or “avant-garde," one can always hear a melodic lyricism in Stanko's lines which softens the overall effect. An example of how Stanko's music affects his fans can be understood from this excerpt from the line notes of Peyotal Witkacy (Polonia ...

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Creed Taylor Productions, Part 2

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Part 1 | Part 2CTI Jazz live and rehearsal tracks exclusively available in the AAJ Download Store 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, he founded Impulse! which released under his leadership ...

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Creed Taylor Productions, Part 1

Read "Creed Taylor Productions, Part 1"

Part 1 | Part 2CTI Jazz live and rehearsal tracks exclusively available in the AAJ Download Store 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, he founded Impulse! which released under his leadership ...

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Piano Trio

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When one talks about “jazz piano music," it is almost taken for granted they are talking about jazz piano trio music. The trio is and has been most jazz pianists' favorite format, and with good reason: the jazz piano trio has been said at times to represent the essence of jazz in the most condensed yet effective way possible.A piano trio takes full advantage of swing, interaction, and dynamics. There have certainly been outstanding jazz piano trios throughout jazz history, each with its own signature sound: There is the majestic swing of the Oscar Peterson trio, the classy ...

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Jazz for Kids!

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There is some kind of Jazz for everybody. And kids are no different. While the music presented here is by no means only for kids (Silly Rabbit, it's okay) it does happen to have the necessary qualities for kids to gravitate toward it. There's the fun factor; Horace Silver's music is undoubtedly FUN. There's the “head bob" factor, music that gets their heads a-boppin'; ditto Silver, but Monk is just as danceable in his own way. Finally, there are charismatic, humorous, and accessible soloists like Jon Hendricks and Jimmy Smith, and some familiar themes from childhood like “Peter and The ...

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?

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Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?The Big Easy. The Crescent City. N'awlins. Some adore it, some despise it. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans continues to be the testimonial travesty of the United States. With certain political officials claiming that New Orleans is “not worth rebuilding, I would have to strongly object. Anyone who has ever enjoyed a beignet with chicory coffee courtesy of the Café Du Monde, or Jambalaya, Crawfish Etoufee, Red Beans & Rice, Gumbo, Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce, or a Mint Julep or Hurricane cocktail courtesy of Pat ...

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Vocal Jazz: 1917-1950

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There have been as many variations on the definition of vocal jazz as there have been people with opinions. Over the years, the consensus within the jazz community has shifted frequently as critics and fans have wrestled with the often-competing imperatives of improvisation and interpretation. For some people, vocal jazz should be exactly that - voices improvising solos in the manner of jazz instrumentalists. For others, that view disregards a singer's unique relationship to lyrics.At the turn of the 21st century, most jazz fans have come to accept a broad definition of vocal jazz. While the improvisers will ...

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Vocal Jazz: 1951-1968

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These 17 years play out like the vocal jazz equivalent of the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire. Much of the core body of work that makes up vocal jazz was recorded during this relatively short time span. These were the years that saw some of the greatest jazz singers working at the peak of their powers.

In the late 1940s, American record companies stumbled upon two ideas that have since become the cornerstone of the industry. First, kids will buy many, many more records than adults. Second, kids don't have particularly good taste in music. Thus emerged a ...

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Jazz Trumpet, Part 1

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Jazz trumpet is practically an art form unto itself, with a richness in terms of its greatest soloists that is hard to match. Some have even argued for it being the “classiest," most sophisticated solo instrument in Jazz.

Moreover, it seems that in every period of Jazz history, dominant voices on trumpet have leapt to the fore and made critical contributions to developing styles. Consider swing without Roy Eldridge, bebop without Diz, hard-bop without Lee Morgan, post-bop without Woody Shaw, and you get the idea. There is something about the trumpet and those who elect to play it (usually brash, ...

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Drum-n-Bass

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Electronica stands alone among modern music styles as a byproduct of both audience appeal and technological progress. Once techno had caught on and the underground scene was well-established, DJ's began experimenting more creatively with programming the beats themselves. In the clubs and in the studio (mostly in England), drum-and-bass (d-n-b) was born. (Note: you'll hear “jungle" used as a synonym for d-n-b, mostly for irrelevant historical reasons.) The pounding breakbeats of early '90s simply were not enough for the new wave of creative musicians.

The primary tools of the trade for drum-and-bass pioneers included sequencers and samplers, which ...



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