What are some good Jazz artists?
December 24, 2010 7:43 PM   Subscribe

What are some good Jazz artists?

I've recently developed a taste for Jazz...
posted by Bacillus to Media & Arts (29 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
A genre that encompasses Kenny G, Moondog, and Thelonious Monk is pretty broad. What have you heard that you like?
posted by phrontist at 7:46 PM on December 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

As with most things, start with roots and trunk before expanding to branches and twigs. Listen to the main, seminal guys, and when you find a style you like, plunge in deeper. No need to spend lots of time at this stage with Wynton Marsalis, Roy Hargrove, Phil Woods, and other skillful-but-derivative players. Trace back to the guys they emulate.

Three ways to approach.

1. go chronologically, starting with Louis Armstrong's Hot Five, and working forward. The advantage to doing this is that you will observe that advancement in jazz was about breaking the rules of the previous generation. So listen enough to internalize the "rules", and move ahead in time and gleefully enjoy the mavericks that came after.

If that's too rigorous and/or you don't like the early stuff...

2. start with the era you've been listening to and shuttle back a step and forward a step. Tell me what you've been liking and I can suggest next steps. Just keep easing forward and back in time until you've sucked out the primary goodness for your particular taste.

3. scattershot. Listen to the stuff all you can, try to appreciate it all, and plunge in and it will eventually fall into place. Depends on your approach to learning, everyone's different.
posted by Quisp Lover at 7:52 PM on December 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

PS I intentionally didn't answer your question. Its just too broad, as the other poster said. Sort of like "what are some good books?" or "what are some good cities?".

so I'm trying to give you a framework. But if you'll narrow a bit, I'll answer directly.
posted by Quisp Lover at 7:55 PM on December 24, 2010

Art Blakey
posted by null terminated at 7:58 PM on December 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

posted by blaneyphoto at 7:59 PM on December 24, 2010

Brad Mehldau, Charles Mingus, Jim Hall, Charlie Christian, Django Reinhardt, Miles Davis, Anat Cohen, The Bad Plus, Sonny Rollins, Jimmy Giuffre, Greg Osby, Louis Armstrong, Eric Dolphy, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Keith Jarrett, Oscar Peterson, Lee Konitz, Vijay Iyer, and Ornette Coleman.
posted by John Cohen at 8:04 PM on December 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Jazz is an awfully broad genre, and I'm no expert, but in a lot of ways I feel that Miles Davis' Kind of Blue is the quintessential jazz album. I never get tired of it.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:40 PM on December 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

I agree that you just need to find what you like. I always like John Coltrane.
posted by Anitanola at 8:41 PM on December 24, 2010

Yeah, you seriously need to tell us what kind of jazz it is that you're into. I can't stand most jazz but I do like gypsy jazz so I'm going to recommend Django Reinhardt. The only other kind of jazz I like is hot jazz from the turn of the century and into the 40s.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 8:48 PM on December 24, 2010

Well, I should say 20s into the 40s to be more specific.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 8:53 PM on December 24, 2010

Monk, Bird, Oscar, Ornette, great just great, I groove on Freddy Hubbard's horn, but go to the source, the deep groove, the beat between the groove: Sun Ra!
posted by sammyo at 8:57 PM on December 24, 2010

Oh and I know we are not supposed to editorialize here, phrontist, but Mr Gorelick plays pop something, not jazz. ; -)
posted by sammyo at 9:01 PM on December 24, 2010

Ahmad Jamal, Ornette Coleman, Rasaan Roland Kirk, Chet Baker, Thelonius Monk, Duke Ellington.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:20 PM on December 24, 2010

Anybody mention Coltrane yet? Oh wait, yeah, somebody did. OK, then, I got nothing.
posted by infinitywaltz at 10:18 PM on December 24, 2010

Yeah, this question has the potential to overwhelm the server if answered properly. FWIW, I'm going to add two of my personal favorites: Lou Donaldson and Jimmy Smith.
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:27 PM on December 24, 2010

No mention yet of Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington, Fletcher Henderson, Dave Brubeck, Charlie Parker, Coleman Hawkins, Stephane Grappelli, Lester Young, to name a few of my favorites. And Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw, although some would argue they aren't jazz.

For that matter - I would argue that early Western swing is southwestern jazz, and throw Bob Wills and Milton Brown into the mix.
posted by chez shoes at 10:34 PM on December 24, 2010

There's already a ton of goodness here, but despite that, I don't think I saw Joe Williams, Joe Henderson or Nat King Cole, or Clifford Brown mentioned yet...
posted by smirkette at 11:36 PM on December 24, 2010

I loves me some big band. So Chick Webb(I really wish the recording tech was better in the 20s because I know those drums were hot.) and Louis Armstrong (ignore the singing).
posted by Rubbstone at 3:35 AM on December 25, 2010

Pat Metheny (often as Pat Metheny Group), especially his earlier live album, Travels.

As far as the "classics" go, you can't go wrong with Monk, Coltrane, and Davis (Miles). If you'e into jazz vocalists, check out Nancy Wilson (not the one with the rock group Heart).
posted by fuse theorem at 4:11 AM on December 25, 2010

I like the vibraphone, so I enjoy Lionel Hampton's work with the Benny Goodman small groups, Milt Jackson's with Miles Davis, Bobby Hutcherson on a bunch of in/out Blue Note '60s albums, Cal Tjader's Afro-Cubanisms (especially w/multiple percussionists), Johnny Lytle's soul- and groove-jazz playing and Walt Dickerson's experiments with Sun Ra.

Again, though, Bacillus, if you could narrow down what you're looking for a little bit, even just a tiny bit, it would really help us provide better answers.
posted by box at 9:12 AM on December 25, 2010

I've been on a Lennie Tristano jag for awhile now. He's great.
Also, Wes Montgomery (if you can find Smokin at the Half Note or The Incredible Jazz Guitar of.. , you will dig it, probably)

and, the above mentioned Bill Evans..can't go wrong there.
posted by The_Auditor at 9:43 AM on December 25, 2010

Which city are you in? If you're anywhere near a metro area, there will be jazz clubs and jazz lounges. As much as I love recordings, there is no replacement for listening to people coming up with stuff on the spot. There are artists out there headlining on Fri/Sat nights that are just amazing.

Keep an eye on your local free-papers for reviews and listings.

(For recordings, I'll recommend looking up Chick Corea for the piano, Bucky Pizzarelli for the guitar, Bobby McFerrin's "Mozart Sessions" and "Hush")
posted by Sallysings at 10:11 AM on December 25, 2010

My understanding of jazz is incomplete and spotty. But here's some stuff I like:
Miles Davis and John Coltrane doing "So What".
Dave Brubeck's Time Out.
Anthology of Big Band Swing 1930-1955
Antonio Carlos Jobim
early Herbie Hancock
posted by richyoung at 10:16 AM on December 25, 2010

I've been known to rock jazz out to some Pat Metheny
posted by azarbayejani at 11:10 AM on December 25, 2010

It changes for each person. Some of the most jaw-droppingly awesome (to me, now) sounded like so much incoherent noise at first. For accessible stuff, I like Herbie Hancock (Watermelon man era), Bill Evans, Miles Davis (earlier, though, think "Walkin'" and "Relaxin'" albums). Stan Getz, definitely.

I just downloaded a Cannonball Adderly Sextet album from iTunes that's blowing me the F away, but I don't think I would have liked it a couple of years ago.
posted by ctmf at 11:26 AM on December 25, 2010

The problem with all these suggestions is that they reflect mostly on the taste of the posters. You've gotten yourself, essentially, a listing of most of the most famous jazz musicians, and it's pretty undifferentiated.

I'd really suggest selecting one of the three approaches I offered above to getting up to speed, and branching out with your taste.

Please don't think I'm bragging, or trying to sway the gravitational field of this thread (I'm proud to be just one guy in the MeFi hive mind!), but I'm a jazz pro who's played with a good many of the people mentioned above, so this is sort of my bread-n-butter, fwiw.

I'll keep monitoring this page if you want any follow-ups from me.
posted by Quisp Lover at 10:08 AM on December 26, 2010

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