Building a Jazz Library

Daily articles carefully curated by the All About Jazz staff. Read our popular and future articles.

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

Ten Tiptop Albums Which Include Thelonious Monk & Denzil Best’s Totally Rocking “Bemsha Swing”

Read "Ten Tiptop Albums Which Include Thelonious Monk & Denzil Best’s Totally Rocking “Bemsha Swing”" reviewed by Chris May

That was the opinion expressed in Inside Jazz by its author, Leonard Feather, who, on the front cover of the book's first edition in 1949 was described as “America's No.1 Authority On Be-Bop." Well, at least Feather was half right about the attractive tunes. In fact, Monk is known to have written at least eighty of them, and had already unveiled ten during his first recording sessions, for Blue Note, in 1947. Some, including “Bemsha Swing," have become jazz standards. ...

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Thelonious Monk: An Alternative Top Ten Albums Of Deep And Staggering Genius

Read "Thelonious Monk: An Alternative Top Ten Albums Of Deep And Staggering Genius" reviewed by Chris May

Thelonious Monk's position in cultural history grows in stature with each passing year and every new generation. Lionised by jazz fans and a continuing influence on musicians, Monk in 2020 is also held to be a hero by the hip hop movement. While his music no longer has the power to shock that it once possessed, it still comes across as unique, profound and thrilling. During his lifetime, however, the course of Monk's career was as craggy ...

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Pharoah Sanders: An Alternative Top Ten Albums To Feed Your Head

Read "Pharoah Sanders: An Alternative Top Ten Albums To Feed Your Head" reviewed by Chris May

Fellow tenor-wielding sonic adventurer Albert Ayler famously described his own and Pharoah Sanders' relationships with their mentor John Coltrane thus: “Trane was the Father, Pharoah was the Son, I am the Holy Ghost." The epigram goes some way to capturing the scorched-earth ferocity of much, though not all, of Sanders' music in the 1960s. But Ayler passed in 1970, and so was not around to witness Sanders' maturation into a full-spectrum stylist equally at home with voluptuous balladeering.

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Yusef Lateef: An Alternative Top Ten Albums Blowing Cultural Nationalism Out Of The Water

Read "Yusef Lateef: An Alternative Top Ten Albums Blowing Cultural Nationalism Out Of The Water" reviewed by Chris May

A pioneer of global and modal jazz, the multi-instrumentalist and composer Yusef Lateef is only beginning to have his importance in the history of the music properly acknowledged. After languishing off-catalogue for decades, much of his output is being made available once more. A treasure trove of great jazz is out there waiting to be rediscovered. Lateef was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee. When he was five, his family moved to jny: Detroit, where he began his career playing ...

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Rahsaan Roland Kirk: An Alternative Top Ten Albums Guaranteed To Bend Your Head

Read "Rahsaan Roland Kirk: An Alternative Top Ten Albums Guaranteed To Bend Your Head" reviewed by Chris May

Jazz musicians are rarely called shamanistic but the description fits Rahsaan Roland Kirk precisely. Clad in black leather trousers and heavy duty shades (he was blind from the age of two), a truckload of strange looking horns strung round his neck—two or three of which he often played simultaneously--twisting, shaking and otherwise contorting his body, stamping his feet, exhorting audience members to feel the spirit and make some noise and handing out bags of penny whistles to help them do ...

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Ennio Morricone: Fabled Hoard Of 1970s Library Music Reissued

Read "Ennio Morricone: Fabled Hoard Of 1970s Library Music Reissued" reviewed by Chris May

Practically unobtainable since their release by RCA Italy in 1972, the ten albums which make up Ennio Morricone and Bruno Nicolai's Dimensioni Sonore: Musiche Per L'Immagine E L'Immaginazione are being reissued by Dialogo on October 30 2020. The new release plugs a chasm in the availability of classic-era library music, which at its best is an art form worthy of serious attention. It does not get more fascinating than on Dimensioni Sonore, which is regarded as the Holy Grail of ...

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Chet Baker: An Alternative Top Ten Albums To Get Lost In

Read "Chet Baker: An Alternative Top Ten Albums To Get Lost In" reviewed by Chris May

Chet Baker was born to a farmer's daughter and a hard-drinking, weed-smoking singer and guitarist in a Western Swing band in Yale, Oklahoma in 1929. Like many Okies, the family fared badly during the Great Depression but did a little better after moving to Glendale, California in 1939. Largely self-taught as a trumpeter, Baker honed his skills playing in an army band after volunteering for military service in the mid 1940s. By the turn of the decade, he was making ...


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