Help me get into (and navigate) the world of Jazz.
I love jazz, mainly Swing, Ragtime, Big Band, and Gypsy Jazz. Basically all the stuff from the 20's to the 50's. The thing is, I mostly know big names from that time. I'd love to know more about other artists from that period that are worth hearing. The other problem is that even for the artists I already know, I just have various songs here and there. I decided I'd like to actually own some albums and learning more about their music. However, trying to find my way around the recordings has been a byzantine nightmare.
This is a pretty long question, so I'll try to break it into parts. There are three things that I want, basically:
- To find out more about the artists I already know and like, what their must-have recordings are, and what other interesting work they've done that I might not know about.
- To find out about other artists from that time that I haven't heard yet.
- Recommendations on what recordings to get. What are your favorite records by these artists and why?
I've checked out these previous threads
already, and while there's a lot of great information in them, they don't seem to cover the eras I'm looking for, and for the most part they don't cover specific recordings, just names.
I love music, but most of the music I listen to is contemporary, where it's easy to get started by buying an album. Even classical music, you buy based on the performer. Easy enough. This does not seem to be the case at all with Jazz. All the stuff I like was before the idea of the album, so it seems like it's mostly just assorted recordings from different times that are collected. It seems like the record companies just constantly create new collections and put out new albums to maximize profits, with no regard to actually expanding their listeners. Even the artists I like, I have no idea where to start, which albums are definitive. With Ella, there are a few albums that I've seen regarded as must-own, but after that it's as confusing as anyone else. Same with Louis Armstrong and Etta James. I really want to listen to more, but it's utterly confusing.
Example: Recently I wanted to get a Billie Holiday album, so I went to Amazon to browse. There were over a hundred albums and sets, many with overlapping songs. Not only that, it was difficult to tell which version of a song was on any particular album, when it was sung, who it was sung with, etc. One opinion from a review I read said the Columbia years are better than the Verve years, but that was just one person's opinion. Are the Verve years still worth it? What makes them different? What's the difference between these five albums that all seem really similar? Do I have to buy all of these to have all the songs that I want? Which one am I even supposed to start with aaaaahhh
And then I closed the window and didn't get anything. Nor was I inclined to try again anytime soon. It feels like you have to know someone already into Jazz to get into it, which is why I turn to all you wonderful people.
Artists I already like that I'd love to know more about:
( With a few exceptions, most of these artists I only have a handful of songs by, and I'd like to get more but don't really know where to start )
Artists I've heard about but haven't really listened to, and don't know at all where to start:
- Ella Fitzgerald
- Louis Armstrong
- Benny Goodman
- Count Basie
- Billie Holliday
- Oscar Peterson
- Stan Getz
- Diane Schuur
- Scott Joplin
- Nat King Cole
- Django Reinhardt
- Henry "Red" Allen
- Duke Ellington
- Cab Calloway
- Charlie Christian
- Glen Miller
- Fats Waller
- Jelly Roll Morton
- Art Tatum
- Bix Beiderbecke
- Artie Shaw
- Chet Baker
- Dizzie Gillespie
If there's an overlooked artist from around this time, I'd love to hear about them. I'd love to know more about female vocalists of the time, as well as any standout musicians.
I know I'm asking a lot, and any answer is appreciated, no matter how small, if it's just a single song or album recommendation or an interesting fact or tidbit. For as much as I love jazz I feel like there is so much I don't know about it. Thanks to you all in advance!