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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 it mixes intellect and emotion in a very spontaneous way.
I was first exposed to jazz by liberating a Coltrane and a Pharoah Sanders record from a friend in NYC and listening to them over and over until I got it.
My advice to new listeners is you have to take the time to listen to some jazz tunes a number of times until it starts to make sense.