Links, resources and playlists for the 4, make that 6, sessions in the Jazzed about Jazz series I’m giving at DEAR on Wednesdays at 11:30, starting on February 9, 2022.

Session 1: 57 Varieties – So many styles
  • How to Listen to Jazz by Ted Gioia – An excellent introduction to jazz that is friendly to non-musicians. Kind of an executive summary of his comprehensive history below. If you’d like a quick read that hits the high points of jazz, this is a great choice.
  • The History of Jazz by Ted Gioia – The third edition just came out in 2021, which makes this the best and most up-to-date narrative on jazz history. If you’re looking for the real deal and a book you can refer to for years to come, this is the one.
Session 2: What Is this Thing Called Jazz
  • Going to Chicago Blues – Jimmy Rushing sits in with Joe Williams and the Count Basie Orchestra on Rushing’s iconic blues tune. His voice is a bit hoarse, but he more than holds his own against his successor on the Basie band.
Session 3: Blue Note
  • History of Blue Note Records with Richard Havers – Really nice 13-minute overview of the label’s history from 2014, the 75th anniversary of its founding, by the author of Blue Note: Uncompromising Expression.
  • Perfect Takes – Interview with Rudy Van Gelder from 2004 on his legendary career recording over 2000 jazz albums for a variety of labels. Includes shots of the recording studio he built in 1959.
Session 4: Best 9 Days of the Year
  • Rochester International Jazz Festival website – Looks like it will happen this summer after 2 years of COVID cancellations. It’s the best festival in world, in my opinion, so don’t miss it. Lots of free events, but I recommend a club pass when they go on sale March 15. I’ll finally get to use the one I bought 2 years ago, and I’m excited!
Session 5: Don Ellis
  • Open Wide video – The video I showed in class from the 1978 Montreux Jazz Festival
Session 6: Miles Davis
  • Miles Davis official website – Maintained by his estate and kept current
  • Birdland Incident – Comprehensive narrative of the incident outside Birdland in August, 1959, where Miles received an unprovoked beating from police.

I was asked after the third session of the class to recommend some jazz albums, and I responded quickly with Kind of Blue and Blues and the Abstract Truth. This got me thinking, and I came up with the following 20 “desert island picks” (If you were stuck on a desert island with a stereo & electricity, what albums would you pick?).

The order is segue-based and not a ranking: each album has something in common with the one that follows it. However, I would always put Kind of Blue at the top of any such list. I also picked albums that I’d say are accessible to jazz novices, so many of my personal favorites are not here. Needless to say, this list barely scratches the surface, so to speak (vinyl humor)…

  • Miles Davis – Kind of Blue (1959)
  • Miles Davis – Birth of the Cool (1949)
  • Oliver Nelson – Blues and the Abstract Truth (1961)
  • Count Basie – April in Paris (1956)
  • Duke Ellington – Ellington at Newport (1958)
  • Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Duke Ellington Songbook (1957)
  • John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman (1963)
  • John Coltrane – Giant Steps (1959)
  • Thelonious Monk – Genius of Modern Music (1947-52)
  • The Quintet (Bird & Diz) – Jazz at Massey Hall (1953)
  • Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um (1959)
  • Sonny Rollins – Saxophone Colossus (1956)
  • Brown/Roach Quintet – Clifford Brown and Max Roach (1954)
  • Art Blakey – Moanin’ (1958)
  • Wayne Shorter – Speak No Evil (1966)
  • Herbie Hancock – Maiden Voyage (1965)
  • Horace Silver – Song for my Father (1965)
  • Bill Evans – Waltz for Debby (1962)
  • Dave Brubeck – Time Out (1959)
  • Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto – Getz/Gilberto (1964)

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