The 100 Jazz Albums That Shook The World

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80
John Surman - Tales Of The Algonquin - Deram
John Surman (bs, ss), John Warren (bs, f), Mike Osborne (as, cl), Alan Skidmore (ts, fl), Kenny Wheeler, Harry Beckett (t, flhn), John Taylor (p), Barre Phillips, Harry Miller (b), Alan Jackson and Stu Martin (d). Rec. 1971

As much Canadian John Warren’s album as fellow baritone player John Surman’s, this record said that Surman was a star in the ascendant. So many UK jazz albums could fill this slot but this gets the vote for its ecstatic, exuberant playing from Surman and company and amazing, challenging writing from Warren. This was a glorious testament to the new-found confidence of British jazz. Warren’s success lies in the way he remains within the big band tradition but extends it by incorporating elements of free playing, driving powerful polyrhythms and complex layering of his instrumental resources. An absolute and indisputable joy. (DH)

79
Oliver Nelson - The Blues And The Abstract Truth - Impulse!
Oliver Nelson (as, ts), Freddie Hubbard (t), Eric Dolphy (f, as, bcl), George Barrow (bar s), Bill Evans (p), Paul Chambers (b) and Roy Haynes (d). Rec. 1961

For almost all his career Nelson was a hugely talented journeyman musician who did everything well and not a great deal memorably. This is the exception. Helped by a cast that included Freddie Hubbard, Eric Dolphy and Bill Evans, Nelson delivered a set of profound meditations on the blues (including ‘Stolen Moments’) and then backed that up by playing the tenor saxophone with such force and inventiveness that he stood as an equal with the heavyweights listed above. In managing it even once he at least gave us a stone classic modern jazz blues and roots album that is free of all hard bop cliché. (KS)

78
Betty Carter - The Audience With Betty Carter - Betcar
Betty Carter (v), John Hicks (p), Curtis Lundy (b) and Kenny Washington (d). Rec. 1979

Listening to this album is a cathartic experience. ‘Sounds’ is a tour de force of scat through shifting tempos and meters that lasts 25 minutes where at one point, Carter, Hicks, Lundy and Washington each play in a different meter. The album highlight is ‘My Favorite Things’ taken at a brisk tempo with Hicks at his most explosive as his accompaniment blossoms into a counterline to Carter’s singing and by the coda who can say whether voice or piano predominates? To say this is one of the finest jazz vocal albums ever made is limiting; it numbers among the great contemporary jazz albums.
(SN) Re-released on CD by Verve

77
Art Tatum - The Genius of Art Tatum No.1 - Clef 1953
Art Tatum (p). Rec. 1953

For decades Tatum was every jazz pianist’s first choice as the greatest piano of all but by the early 1950s his public profile was still minute compared with some of his contemporaries. Norman Granz decided to fix that: between 1953 and Tatum’s death in 1956 Granz recorded well over 200 selections and issued them on Clef and Verve. Tatum’s popular and critical reputation has been secure ever since, his baroque creations simultaneously exciting and terrifying the listener. This first of the series is a solo recital. All the Tatum Clefs and Verves are now available on Granz’s last-owned label, Pablo. (KS)

76
Charles Lloyd - Dream Weaver - Atlantic
Charles Lloyd (ts, f), Keith Jarrett (p), Cecil McBee (b) and Jack DeJohnette (d). Rec. 1966

Voted “new star” by Downbeat in 1965, the emergence of the Charles Lloyd Quartet took jazz by storm in 1966, expanding musical horizons with a challenging eclectic amalgam of modal and free jazz with Eastern textures and Spanish soul. Dream Weaver also introduced Keith Jarrett and Jack DeJohnette to the world before Lloyd’s subsequent LPs Forest Flower and Love-In became two of jazz’s biggest sellers. However, this was the album that first got tongues wagging, echoing the free spirit of the psychedelic 1960s and landing them an early slot at The Fillmore. Miles noticed too, quickly snatching Jarrett and DeJohnette for his own jazz-rock experiments that ushered in the dawn of a new era. (JN) Reissued on CD by 32 Jazz as a twofer with Love-In.

75
Oscar Peterson - Night Train - Verve 
Oscar Peterson (p), Ray Brown b) and Ed Thigpen (d). Rec. 1962

By 1962 Peterson’s trio was one of the top draws in jazz worldwide and Peterson himself habitually won every jazz piano popularity poll going. Why? Well, the change in 1958 from piano-bass-guitar to piano-bass-drums had allowed him room to develop the group’s leaner, grittier side and emphasise melody rather than bullish pyrotechnics. Night Train is the epitome of this approach: cool, funky, incredibly concentrated and well thought-through, it hangs together as a perfect modernist tribute to the funky roots of jazz, covering tracks from ‘C Jam Blues’ to ‘Moten Swing’ and ‘The Hucklebuck’. Canadiana Suite may be Peterson’s creative high water point, but Night Train defines him. (KS)

‘Although it was called Oscar Peterson’s trio really it was the Ray Brown trio – you couldn’t take your ears off him’
– Guitarist Jim Mullen on Oscar Peterson’s Night Train (Jazzwise 74, April 2004)


74
Herbie Hancock - The New Standard - Verve
Herbie Hancock (p), Michael Brecker (ts), John Scofield (g), Dave Holland (b), Jack DeJohnette (d) and Don Alias (perc). Rec. 1996

From the opening ‘New York Minute’ this album bursts with energy and creativity. Hancock soars and Brecker burns. Yet while the playing is exemplary, the choice of repertoire makes this album stand apart. ‘New York Minute’ is from the Don Henley album The End of The Innocence and songs by the likes of Steely Dan, Peter Gabriel, Paul Simon and Prince make this one of the first albums after 1990 to return to songs from popular culture once more as a basis for jazz improvisation. Yet they all end up as impeccable, burning New York-style jazz of the highest order and press the green light for other artists to follow suit. (SN)

73
Roland Kirk - Rip, Rig & Panic - Limelight
Roland Kirk (f, mzo, stritch, ts), Jaki Byard (p), Richard Davis (b) and Elvin Jones (d). Rec. 1965

Many maintain that Kirk never made the perfect album: if so, this one comes closer than any other, mostly because Elvin Jones is consistently lighting a fire under the quartet generally and Kirk in particular. The multi-reed man is also self-evidently inspired by pianist Jaki Byard’s playing and is consistently taking risks in everything he’s doing. I Talk With The Spirits, his flute album, came next and gave the world ‘Serenade to a Cuckoo’, while 1968’s Volunteered Slavery allowed Kirk to assault Burt Bacharach among others while giving him a new audience, but this one is the stone jazzer’s delight. (KS)

72
Thelonious Monk - The Genius Of - Modern Music - Vol 1 - Blue Note 
Thelonious Monk (p), Idrees Sulieman/George Taitt (t), Danny Quebec West/Sahib Shihab (as), Billy Smith (ts), Gene Ramey/Bob Paige (b) and Art Blakey (d). Rec. 1947

These early Monk sides almost sank without trace when first issued as 78rpm singles, and it was only because of a LP selection under this title in the mid-1950s that more than a handful of punters took any notice. Blue Note, though, were so into Monk that they’d done these three sessions in little more than a month, just to get the first small-group versions of ‘Round Midnight’, ‘Ruby My Dear’, ‘Thelonious’ and ‘In Walked Bud’ among others. With the possible exception of Idrees, the soloists weren’t up to the pianist’s level. Yet the miraculous Blakey is at his early best. (BP)

71
Wayne Shorter - Speak No Evil - Blue Note
Wayne Shorter (ts), Freddie Hubbard (t), Herbie Hancock (p), Ron Carter (b) and Elvin Jones (d). Rec. 1964

Recorded a few months into his stint with Miles, this date finds Shorter on the cusp of his mature compositional and improvisatory styles and in the congenial company of Hancock and Carter, with Elvin Jones keeping it honest at the back and Hubbard providing his usual perfect foil at the front. In a sense this is Shorter’s essay on groove, but his angularity never makes it likely that the whole album would attain that ineffable level, or that he’d even want that. Herbie, of course, would do it without him a few months later on Maiden Voyage. So? Vive le difference, we say… (KS)

Feature Wayne Shorter – Music of the Spheres

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