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

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 ...

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

CTI Records: Ten Tasty Albums With No Added Sugar (Almost)

Read "CTI Records: Ten Tasty Albums  With No Added Sugar (Almost)" reviewed by Chris May

Few jazz producers divide opinion as much as Creed Taylor. He is a hero to many and a villain to as many more. His fans love him for his high production values. His detractors accuse him of dumbing jazz down with excessively sweetened orchestrations and other sales-oriented compromises. Nowhere is the dispute more heated than over Taylor's output for his own CTI label, which spanned jazz-funk, fusion, hard bop and post-bop straight-ahead. Taylor cut his teeth in ...

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Charlie Parker: Ten High Flying Albums Of Paradigm Shifting Genius

Read "Charlie Parker: Ten High Flying Albums Of Paradigm Shifting Genius" reviewed by Chris May

Born in Kansas City, Kansas in 1920, and brought up across the state line in anything-goes, jazz-friendly Kansas City, Missouri, controlled from the mid 1920s to the late 1930s by the spectacularly corrupt politician Tom Prendergast, alto saxophonist Charlie Parker lived fast and hard and passed in 1955, aged only 34 years. A founding father of bop, he is, alongside Louis Armstrong and John Coltrane, one the three most influential musicians in the history of jazz. Parker's ...

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Muse Records: Ten Smoking Hot Albums

Read "Muse Records: Ten Smoking Hot Albums" reviewed by Chris May

Alone among the other great jazz labels of the 1960s and 1970s—Blue Note, Prestige, Riverside, Impulse!, Strata-East and Atlantic—Joe Fields' Muse is rarely anthologised, written about or otherwise celebrated. Yet like its peers, Muse was prolific, releasing over 200 premium-grade albums during the 1970s, its most active decade, alone. This relative obscurity is partly explained by the diversity of Muse's catalogue, which spanned hard bop, post bop, politically informed spiritual jazz, straight-ahead, vocal jazz, Latin jazz, avant-garde, ...

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Blue Note Records: Lost In Space: 20 Overlooked Classic Albums

Read "Blue Note Records: Lost In Space: 20 Overlooked Classic Albums" reviewed by Chris May

For anyone with a passion for Blue Note, it is hard to conceive of an album that has been “overlooked," let alone twenty of them. For connoisseurs of the most influential label in jazz history, the passion can be all consuming: if a dedicated collector does not have all the albums (yet), he or she will be aware of their existence. For all but the most hardcore aficionado, however, the chances are that there are a few discs which have ...

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Lift Every Voice And Sing: Twenty #BlackLives Albums That Matter

Read "Lift Every Voice And Sing: Twenty #BlackLives Albums That Matter" reviewed by Chris May

Jazz has been inextricably linked with social and political protest since at least the late 1930s, when Billie Holiday made famous the leftist songwriter and poet Abel Meeropol's “Strange Fruit." The song, which has a power to move that is undiminished by familiarity, likens the bodies of lynched African Americans to fruit hanging in trees. But the alignment of jazz and protest goes back further than “Strange Fruit." It is likely to have begun with the emergence ...


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