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

Frank Sinatra

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In the 1950s and '60s, there erupted into the world's consciousness a series of celebrities so unique and identifiable, from several different public arenas, that they were known by only one name. It was as if those were names were mythical and could not possibly be mistaken for anyone else. Elvis. Martin and Malcolm. Marilyn. John Paul George and Ringo. Ali. And Sinatra. Frank Sinatra released hit albums for half a century. His career began to take off ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Bossa Nova

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In 1959, an unassuming guitarist/vocalist named João Gilberto from the Brazilian state of Bahia started a quiet revolution with his recordings “Chega de Saudade (No More Blues)" and “Desafinado (Off Key)" on the Odeon label. They featured arrangements by a young native of Rio de Janeiro, Antonio Carlos Jobim. Gilberto's whisper-toned, Afro-Indian-influenced Portuguese vocals complemented his unique guitar style, which ingeniously reduced and resyncopated the samba's intricate polyrhythms down to the most essential beats. Jobim expanded Gilberto's harmonies with French ...

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Blue Note's Golden Decade

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Blue Note! For many of us, the words alone are enough to send a tingle down the spine, conjuring up the indefinable magic of a golden age of jazz. What were the elements that made classic Blue Note records so special? The look? The feel? The sound? All of these and more. Alfred Lion's production? Francis Wolff's photography? Reid Miles design? Rudy Van Gelder's engineering? None of these alone is an essential element, but when all four come together you've ...

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?

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This article was originally published in September 2005. 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 jny: New Orleans is “not worth rebuilding, I would have to strongly object. Anyone who has ever enjoyed a beignet with ...

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Modern Jazz Guitar

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Six strings, ten fingers, improvisation, and a sense of adventure: these are the tools required to play modern jazz guitar. While guitar greats like Wes Montgomery and Jim Hall laid the foundation for bop guitar, a whole new crop of musicians came of age starting in the late '60s. Modern jazz guitar, for lack of a better term, describes the new players who took the traditional forms and twisted them asunder. The new generation has absorbed swing, bop, ...



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