All that's jazz... and more

We Bring You The Coolest New Jazz…

17th July, 2015
posted in: Playlists

Jazz proud
Among some music fans there is a perception that jazz is only played by older people, sometimes musicians that are sadly no longer with us. And while the glory days of Blue Note, Verve, Prestige and Riverside in the 1950s, as well as impulse in the 1960s feature some of the greatest music ever recorded there is jazz today that is every bit as good and as exciting as the jazz recorded decades ago.

Artists like Jason Moran, Terence Blanchard and Robert Glasper acknowledge the debt they owe to those that went before them but they also passionately believe there is a lot more for jazz to say, both now and in the future. Anyone that has witnessed Jason Moran re-imagining the music of Fats Waller knows just how true this is.

Equally, multi-Grammy award winning Robert Glasper is at home with Hip-Hop influenced jazz as he is with the kind of jazz that might resonate with an older audience. Similarly another multi[Grammy Award winner, Terence Blanchard whose latest project with the e-Collective is just as exciting as going to any rock gig by some new happening band. Likewise, Jose James, whether paying homage to the music of Billie Holiday or exploring new jazz paths offers an always interesting take that is both intellectual and stimulating.

At the other end of the jazz spectrum are the amazing Snarky Puppy whose latest offering, Sylva with the Metropole Orkest is destined to be one of this century’s most important recordings. There will be names on the playlist that may mean nothing to you, but don’t let this put you off. If you’ve never listened to Derrick Hodge or Ben Williams or Ambrose Akinmusire or Takuya Kuroda then you are missing some of the best new talent there is; musicians that are exploring the far horizons of not just jazz but music as a whole.

We’re Jazz Proud and we’re pretty sure you’ll be too after listening to our playlist of the coolest new jazz…

Listen to Jazz Proud

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Jazz The autobiography

If Jazz was to write it’s own autobiography what do you think would be chosen as the 100 tracks to tell this most incredible life story? Of course it’s not possible to tell the whole story as in the early days in New Orleans there was no recordings made. It was not until 1917 when the Original Dixieland Jass Band (that’s what it says on the 78rpm shellac disc) cut the very first jazz record in New York that we are able to begin the life story of jazz through recordings.

We have tackled the task of selecting the tracks in what is inevitably an arbitrary fashion. Some recordings just have to be there, while others represent a degree of subjectivity. From those very early days we have also included King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton (who said he invented jazz) and Bix Beiderbecke.

By the 1930s the rise of the big bands, both black and white turned jazz into Pop.  Duke Ellington at  The Cotton Club was the talk of New York City, Chick Webb was ‘Stompin’ At The Savoy’, and there was Fletcher Henderson, Coleman Hawkins, Spike Hughes who worked with Benny Carter, Count Basie and Benny Goodman. Billie Holiday arrived on the scene and changed everything.

In 1939 Blue Note Records was launched, there was Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli playing their distinctive jazz with a French accent, while Charlie Christian become the first guitar god and Lionel Hampton was playing some exciting sounds. Be-bop arrived with bird and Diz, Mary Lou Williams was one of the 1940s overlooked innovators and Louis Armstrong made a comeback. Norman Granz founded Jazz at the Philharmonic, fell in love with Ella’s voice and started a record label half a decade later for her to reinvent jazz singing.

There was  the Birth of the Cool with Miles, and the genius of Bouncin’ Bud Powell was unquestioned. Pres having made his name in the 1930s and carried on after the war and Brownie came along and was hailed as the young pretender only to be snatched from us so cruelly..  Ben Webster joined Pres and the Hawk as the third of the big 3 tenors.. 

Erroll Garner gave a ‘Concert by the sea’, the Modern Jazz Quartet paid homage to Django and Chet Baker was the epitome of cool. Ella and Louis together and apart made jazz singing seem effortless – it was jazz with Verve. Billie in the twilight of her career, and sadly her life, still had it and if Bud was a genius, then so was Art.

In the 1950s new names jostled for attention, Sonny Rollins, Art Pepper, Art Blakey, Cannonball (who needs a surname with a Christian name like that?), Brubeck, ‘Trane, Mingus and Ornette (who needs no surname either) all had so much to say,

The 1960s meant a batch of new names, Freddie Hubbard, Hank Mobley, Jimmy Smith – a true revolutionary – and in  the tradition of Mr. Christian there was Wes Montgomery, along with Kenny B. and Grant Green, Gil Evans and his unrelated namesake Bill who both took jazz where it had never been before.

Getz and Gilberto with more than a little help from Astrud showed there was an awful lot of jazz in Brazil, much of which came from the pen of Antonio Carlos Jobim. Dexter Gordon didn’t need to go to Paris to record, but he did and the result was fantastiqué.

Jazz, always restless, always shifting was approaching fifty and showed no signs of resting on past glories as Eric Dolphy, Andrew Hill, Don Cherry, Sun Ra, Cecil Taylor and Wayne Shorter stretched the limits of it and our imagination. ‘Trane for many topped them all with ‘A Love Supreme’. There was and still is, the mercurial Herbie Hancock, Bobby Hutcherson created good vibes, The Chairman of The Board and the Count took jazz to Vegas and Miles took jazz to the ‘kids’ when he fused his ideas with a rock idiom – it was a ‘Bitches Brew’.

While some consider the 1970s to be the beginning of the end for jazz as we know it, the likes of Donald Byrd, Ronnie Laws, Weather Report, and Chick Corea engaged new audiences and a decade later the ‘sample’ was invented and it brought newcomers to church. In more recent years Jason Moran and Robert Glasper, together and apart, have created a new kind of jazz, along with Brian Blade, while Diana Krall, Cassandra Wilson and Kurt Elling all had one eye over their shoulder, they created a new kind of jazz. In 2014 Gregory Porter won a Grammy and brought untold new fans to jazz, and while there are some who may scoff and say they prefer what had gone previously we have to keep our spirit liquid.

A life in 100 tracks we said, but we’ve actually listed just 99 tracks. What track should we add to complete the story of jazz? Please tell us why you think your choice should make the cut. And we’re fully prepared for you to tell us that we’ve got the story completely wrong.

Anyway! This is our Jazz autobiography, tell us yours…

The Spotify track list is here

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Comments (3)

Kit Buckler October 10th at 11:36am

Fascinating, informative and an open door to help discover the joys of Jazz!

Sylk Blak October 11th at 2:50am

Add ''The Heebie Jeebies' by Sachmo. The scat is INCREDIBLE!

Sherrie Kober Evans October 11th at 3:15pm

What happened to Horace silver the man

If Louis Johnson isn’t a household name it’s none too surprising. How many bass players are? But his playing certainly is. He’s one half of the Brothers Johnson who had some hits back in the 1970s with their funky soul with jazz overtones – ‘Strawberry Letter 22’ and ‘Stomp’ maybe dropped onto your radar. But it is as a session player that Louis is best known, or at least the sound he creates with his slap-bass. Michael Jackson’s ‘Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough’, George Benson’s ‘Give Me The Night’ and Herb Alpert’s Rise’ are just three of his distinctive recordings.

Check out our funky bass playlist

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EE April 18th at 9:04pm

Herb Alpert's "Rise" was Abe Laboriel on bass. LJ was on "Love Is" off the same album.

jazzlabels April 18th at 9:06pm

We'll take your word for it, but. . . :)

Damon April 19th at 7:35pm

Give Me The Night is Abe, too...

It was on this day in 1961 that Freddie Hubbard recorded his album Hub Cap and to celebrate we have a playlist of tunes that were all recorded in the month of April. We’ve dug into the vaults to come up with these tunes and there are undoubtedly some that you’ll know but there are a number we’ll wager that will be new to you… These are just some of the albums from which we’ve taken the tracks.



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Today in 2002 Shirley Scott passed away. To honour her and the other great exponents of the organ  we have created a playlist featuring some of the best known, and not so well known, jazz played on the Hammond B3 in particular. Any idea who that is playing organ with Illinois Jacquet? It got to No.3 on the Billboard R & B chart.

Messenger’s Selection – The Organ


“Jimmy Smith… cuts through grease like fresh battery acid.” Al Collins, KSFO San Francisco

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