Perhaps I'm being a bit presumptous, but I've taken it upon myself to found the Home Theater Forum Jazz Club suggested in another thread. Why? Because it makes me feel ever so important. I've spent a lot of time and energy introducing people to jazz, and doing the same for myself. Here's how I'll do this: I'll select 5 albums. Anyone interested in participating can listen to them Post edited by Admin. When you hear it, be encouraged to post your thoughts. A month later, I will select another 5. It'll work like a book club, but with 5 albums instead of a book. There is one rule I respectfully insist upon, though: no bashing other people's opinions. The jazzers around here aren't allowed to attack newbies if they don't like a "classic" album. Some people may start listening to our recommendations, and find that jazz just ain't for them. That's fine. This is about exploring and learning, not about judging each other. I believe that too many people get turned off from the music because of jazz snobs' attitudes. If this works out, the 5 albums picked in future months can be selected by a group of us. You probably don't want all your recommendations coming from one person. These first 5 albums I'm picking meet the following criteria: 1. General acceptance- I think these will be albums that few jazz fans can argue with; pretty much everyone likes 'em. Nothing controversial here. 2. Accessability and fun- swinging, grooving tunes. Contrary to what many think, this isn't music that has to be listened to many times to "get." Hopefully, it'll spark your interest right away. I'll also sometimes include tips on buying the album, because many of these have been released multiple times, remastered, extra tracks, etc. Ok, here we go: 1. Kind of Blue- Miles Davis The artist: I think everyone's heard of Miles. A pioneer of many different styles of music, he achieved acclaim for his melodic, reflective trumpet playing. If this jazz club thing of ours works out, there will be a lot of Miles Davis on the listening lists. Following the history of Miles is following the history of modern jazz. The album: This is the most popular jazz album of all time, which was the main reason I picked this first. It's the kind of music you'd want to hear in a smoky cafe while having drinks with a beautiful woman. Musically, there are few chords, and the improvisations are based on scales' modes. Therefore, this style is called "modal." To us normal folks, that means that the music sounds less tense, has more space, a more basic rhythm section, and a more free construct for the soloists. Abum buying tips: Label: Columbia. They released a remastered version, and it should be labeled as such. There is also an extra take of the last track. 2. Yardbird Suite: The Ultimate Collection- Charlie Parker The artist: What the Beatles were for modern rock, Parker was for modern jazz. I feel I'd be doing you all a disservice without asking you to hear this right away. He layed down the template for all sax players to follow. The music: Parker was recording in the 40s, when most recorded music was singles. The tunes are short. The most common structure is: state the theme, solo, close theme. Most of it is fast, with a heavy musical attack. The album: This is easily the best retrospective of Parker's studio recordings, as it covers multiple labels and includes all of his best known songs. However, since it's two discs, it may be a bit pricey for some. If so, you can find plenty of other compilations and retrospectives. If you want to ask us about a particular substitution, we'll be more than happy to help- you don't want to get stuck with poor sound quality. The last few tracks of this collection feature Parker with a string section. I don't particularly like it as much, but it's interesting to hear. The first few tracks include Dizzy Gillespie. 3. My Favorite Things- John Coltrane The artist: No one piece of music adequately represents Coltrane. He is way too eclectic for that. Possibly the most sophisticated and complex sax player of the post-bop era, he both attracted and angered critics and followers. The album: I picked this album purely because of its "fun" factor: the title track is indeed the same tune found in The Sound of Music. He also covers a couple of Gershwin tunes. The way he transforms them still astounds listeners today. I've had a few jazz haters have their interests sparked hearing the this stuff. Album buying tips: This was recorded for Atlantic. I highly recommend the Rhino re-release. All of Atlantic's most famous albums have been released in "deluxe" versions by Rhino. It's a couple of dollars more expensive, but the music sounds better and you get bonus tracks. This one has singles versions of the title tracks. The covers of the Rhino releases are gray cardboard-type folding things. You can also find this music in the Complete Atlantic Recordings box set, which has tons of music, alternate takes, and is very expensive. I personally prefer to get proper albums, keeping the music more when it was originally released. 4. Count Basie compilation There are so many compilations of Basie out there, that I can't recommend one in particular. I have the one from the This Is Jazz series, but that may change. The Ken Burns Jazz one is fine, too. You can probably walk into any decent record store and find something worth getting. There are no proper Basie "albums," since Basie was recording before there were long playing records, so you're only going to find compilations and live stuff. For the sake of any future discussions, try to get something with the tune "One O'Clock Jump" on it, which was his signature song. If anyone wants to recommend a good retrospective, of course that would be much appreciated. The music: big band swing music. When Basie was around, there were so many swing bands that it was remarkable to be noticed above all the rest. Basie achieved this recognition by playing sparsely, phrasing better, and featuring Lester Young on sax. IMO, his music translates better to modern audiences than most other swing bands that may sound dated. 5. Moanin'- Art Blakey The artist: post-bop music that's hard hitting, soulful, and very funky. Blakey is a drummer that drives a tune better than anyone I've ever heard. The focus is usually "feel" over flash. This makes the music very infectious, and it's why I like to recommend it to newbies. Blakey said that he fails as a performer if he doesn't see his audience tap their feet and bob their head. That's not to say that their isn't great melody and soloing. Quite the contrary. Blakey's Jazz Messengers was a rotating lineup of young talent that lasted 30 years. Dozens of musicians went on to establish themselves in the jazz world as leaders and pioneers. Blakey just made sure to keep all the playing under control for the service of the song and the rhythm. The album: I could easily have picked one of dozens of classic Blakey recordings, but I think this is one of his most popular. Either way, I happen to like it a lot. Album buying tip: This album was released on the Blue Note label. When buying popular albums from Blue Note, always try to look for CDs labeled "Rudy Van Gelder" editions, see on the front part of the spine. These are the most current versions of the albums and they sound great, as if they were recorded yesterday. Let me know what you think of the list and if you're interested. Also, tell me if the list is too long, too short, or whatever. And if people want to be involved in the next round of suggestions, tell me. I tend to favor bop jazz, because it's my favorite and the most popular amongst modern musicians and audiences. If people are more interested in swing, avant-garde, or fusion, I can put that into the next round, too. Admins: if people express interest, is it possible to have a link to this thread on the front page as a little HTF "feature?" Enjoy the music, folks, and I look forward to read what y'all think.