The way I see it is that if you are going to be a well groomed man you should have the music to match. At at the risk of sounding uncool I am going to say that there is no music cooler than Jazz. There is an album for nearly any time of day or any occasion. If you are already into Jazz then this list is for you to merely critique and criticize however if your idea of jazz is what you listen to in the elevator then do yourself a favour and keep reading and listening. Before we go any further I must clarify that this is NOT a list of the top five jazz albums of all time. A list of that nature is simply not possible – agreeing on great albums yes – a list, never.
The four albums listed below are selected to provide you with some jazz that you can listen to while having dinner, hosting a party, relaxing on your sofa, or while you shave. Where possible I am going to let the music do the talking.
THE ANY TIME IS THE RIGHT TIME ALBUM
Miles Davis – Kind of Blue
If you are a jazz person you are probably in the process of closing this tab – not because of disagreement – but because of predictably Kind of Blue is an album that can be labelled as everyone’s first jazz record, and as a result is on everyone’s list of must have jazz records. But there is no getting around it – Kind of Blue – in my opinion is perfection. This is the album that introduced me to jazz. I was working in a record store (remember those) – I was a straight up rock’n'roll guy and a customer who would come in once a week convinced me to give it a try. There was no turning back. Listen to “So What” – Clip on YouTube
THE GET YOUR MORNING GOING ALBUM
Louis Armstrong Plays W.C. Handy
Most people are familiar with Louis Armstrong, unfortunately for his version of What A Wonderful World, I say unfortunately because he was so much more than that track. Most are unfamiliar with W.C. Handy, he past away in 1958 – four years after the release of this album – he is often referred to as the “Father of Blues”. The album in question has been referred to by Allmusic.com as Louis Armstrong’s finest record of the 1950s” and “essential music for all serious jazz collections”. And I would have to agree. I would have to say it would be nearly imposibble to put this record on and not smile and bop along to every track. Listen to “St. Louis Blue” – Clip on YouTube
THE AFTER DINNER - POSSIBLY ON A DATE ALBUM
Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall
This may be may favourite jazz album of all time. Strong words I know – with all those jazz albums out there. But this album can be played over and over and over without losing its appeal. Two of the greats John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk on stage at one of the worlds greatest stages. One of the things I love about this album was its discovery. The set was recorded in 1957 but wasn’t released until 2005 when it was discovered in the Library of Congress, remastered and released, to the benefit of music lovers everywhere. Listen to “Blue Monk” – clip on YouTube
THE TIME TO UNWIND MOMENTS ALONE ALBUM
Brad Mehldau – Live in Tokyo
Until this selection the albums have all been classic artists. Brad Mehldau is a jazz pianist and first came to my attention because of his covering of Radiohead’s Paranoid Android (on this album – he also covers Exit Music along with a couple of Nick Drake tunes). His albums range in mood and complexity, but I find that Live in Tokyo – just him at his piano – is a great starting point, and if you were to only own one of his albums this should be the one. Listen to “Paranoid Android” – clip on YouTube
There you have it, four albums for four different reasons. Jazz enthusiast can be angry, jazz neophytes hopefully curious.