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Transcendent recordings don't come with a label identifying their magnificence, but they're easy to pick out. I had the honor and privilege of receiving, and listening to, more than 375 CDs for review consideration in 2012. I reviewed approximately 165 of them and these were the 15 that rose above the rest. Some are bold and others practice the art of quiet seduction, but every one of them won me over from the get go and remain close to my ears and heart (Note: these albums are not ranked in order of preference):
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.