Jazz will never die, so learn to like it.
Ten jazz tracks you should know.
Think jazz is too deep for you? Think it’s seen its day? Well, you’re wrong. Listen to any version of the old Gershwin tune “Summertime” and tell us you don’t know what it’s about. Does the name Esperanza Spalding ring a bell? She won a GRAMMY over that teenage boy with over eight million Twitter followers.
Truth is, jazz is as American as fireworks on the Fourth of July. It’s as much a part of our heritage as grilling up a hamburger. And there’s more of it today than ever. Although you don’t have to make it your favorite type of music, you should still learn to appreciate it. Because while learning a little about jazz is useful knowledge—and something that will round you out—it’s also something you’ll have forever.
2. Christian Scott: “Isadora” from Yesterday You Said Tomorrow
The Miles Davis of today. Ultra progressive. Ultra stylish. And just plain cool.
3. Maria Schneider Orchestra: “Cerulean Skies” from Sky Blue
A mentee of Gil Evans, Ms. Schneider composes pieces that are colorful, meaningful and accessible. Get to know Maria. Start here.
4. Thad Jones: “To You” from Eclipse
Dissonant, without being too distant. When it comes to texture, harmony and dense chords—nobody does it better.
5. Dave Holland Octet: “Shadow Dance” from Pathways
Chris Potter. Antonio Hart. Robin Eubanks. Steve Nelson. Nate Smith. Alex Sipiagin. Gary Smulyan. And Dave Holland, a bassist who’s played with the best. All part of one great octet—all making one great, big–band sound.
6. Esbjorn Svensson Trio: “Eighty-Eight Days In My Veins” from Viaticum
Jazz started in the early Twentieth Century in New Orleans. Today, it’s played by musicians throughout the world. Including Scandinavia. To further broaden your horizons, here’s a brooding, meditative piece from the greatest jazz trio to ever come out of Sweden.
7. Joshua Redman: “Jazz Crimes” from Elastic
One of jazz’s most versatile saxophonists playing alongside Brian Blade on drums and Sam Yahel on the Hammond B-3 Organ. Funky, to say the least.
8. John Coltrane: “Part 1—Acknowledgment” from A Love Supreme
A Love Supreme is Coltrane’s best work. It’s also one of the best jazz works, period. Click here and listen to Episode 24 of the podcast, The Traneumentary, which was produced by Vella Interactive.
10. Ornette Coleman: “Lonely Woman” from The Best of Ornette Coleman
Call it free jazz. Call it “Harmolodics.” Call it proof that America’s greatest art form can take any form.
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