The Essential Jazz Recordings (101 CDs) does NOT include 101 physical CDs as it may lead you to believe, just references to 101 essential jazz CDs. Nor does it include a companion CD as the title of this post may lead you to believe. That being said there is an Essential Jazz Recordings reference CD available and I’d have to say I highly recommend both of these purchases for any Jazz fan or those who want to learn more about Jazz music and the people who have been instrumental in the evolution of this art form.
I listened to “The Essential Jazz Recordings” CD for several weeks, throughly enjoying it, but I have to admit I was apprehensive and reluctant to start reading the book. I love lists and own many books documenting the authors advice on various recommendations or even simply a list of all CDs for a given genre. While fulfilling the need of providing me with comprehensive lists, and almost always introducing me to some new tunes, I frequently find myself wondering if there was much more effort put in than the a recollection of listening to the music over a period of time. That’s where I was pleasantly surprised by The Essential Jazz Recordings Book by Ross Porter.
Ross Porter, it seems, used a formula for each entry which allows you to feel a genuine understanding of the musician whose recording he is recommending. In praise of this most enjoyable format here is a brief review of the book using the formula in which it appears to follow.
A brief introduction to the essential person and interesting ‘get to know them” facts:
Ross Porter grew up in Ottawa, Canada and recalls his discovery of music while listening to a radio tucked under his pillow before the days where Walkmans and iPods allowed children to listen to music into the night without being detected. While working at a record store he discovered an old Creed Taylor International (CTI Records) catalog which introduced him to Jazz in a whole new way.
Interesting insightful information about the person and their careers:
The life long influence has enabled Ross Porter to translate his passion for Jazz into a very successful career exposing music lovers everywhere to his fine recommendations. Ross has demonstrated a perfect trajectory from music lover, to record store employeee, reporter, radio show host, documentary creator for radio and television and now the CEO of Canada’s Premier Jazz Radio station JazzFM 91 in Toronto. Let’s not conclude this path is complete yet though. The Essential Jazz Recordings book by Ross Porter demonstrates a fresh take on bringing jazz to the masses with wonderfully informative and entertaining synopsis’ of each essential Jazz recommendation.
More information to strengthen the connection between you and the essential person and recording:
Ross Porter defines essential jazz as ” something that’s necessary in order to achieve a true understanding of, in this case, Jazz as an art form”. To Ross its obviously important to feel you know the musician or at least where they are coming from. The list of Jazz musicians documented in the book is certainly a who’s who of Jazz but there is so much more.
Each entry of two or three pages keeps you turning pages like the pages of a best seller mystery novel. From the first two entries: Django Reihhart … the most influential jazz musician to come out of Europe … once left a new car at the side of the road because it was out of gas. Artie Shaw … had 8 wives that made great material for the 1985 Academy award winning documentary on Artie Shaw “Time is all you’ve got”… Artie Shaw quit music because he could no longer play “the beautiful music he heard in his head”. And so this book goes, on to Billy Holiday, Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong and so on.
The essential Jazz recordings:
I’m not a huge fan of compilations. While I can’t argue that they portray some of an artists best moments they leave out the experience of getting to know the musician. A compilation to me is like a bullet list of a person’s life events versus their autobiography. That being said compilations have their place for people wanting the “fast food” experience of filling a craving for musical delicacies. The Essential Jazz Recordings book fills the gap introducing you to the artists and providing a tasty sample of the most important works on the CD. What impressed me most about this CD is the fact that every tune was a not only great in its own right but incredibly accessible.
Sometimes when I listen to Jazz I find myself wondering “do I like this?”. It may be the selection of music on this CD in that there very few selections from fusion, or other similarly less accessible jazz genres, but I can tell you that this compilation seems to have a consistency and is throughly enjoyable. I never wondered for a moment about any selection or if I would care to hear more from that person. Additionally the book tells me where to hear more, specifically the recommended essential recording to acquire.
Unfortunately there are no MP3s available of the Essential Jazz Recordings CD so I’m unable to provide a preview of the CD. In place of that I have managed to find a wonderful version of the very first song on the CD which I think is an excellent example of what to expect and a song that was new to me that I very much enjoyed.
Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed your stay here at TheWorldOfJazz.com and I’d like to thank Ross Porter for a most enjoyable book and CD. I hope this post and done justice to the style and encourages readers to pick up this book and CD.
Esha is a band combining incredible talent and good taste from The Netherlands to produce a wonderful CD called Preface. I’d like to think that this is a preface to things to even more great music to come. The CD is only 4 tracks and certainly leaves us wanting more.
The band is comprised of Ayesha de Groot on vocals, Hans Kwakkernaat on piano, Jan Flubacher on contrabass, and Philip Behrends on drums.
While my initial impression was the band may be a solo act with it’s name being an abbreviation of Ayesha’s name I now see the name as more of an omen as well as excellent marketing. Don’t get me wrong, Ayesha de Groot’s vocals are certainly the first thing that will grab you. When I first listened to the CD I heard vocals worthy of, and reminiscent of, such jazz greats as Diana Krall as well as emotional pop influences of Joan Armatrading.
As I listened though, almost immediately the enchanting piano grabbed my attention. Hans Kwakkernaat is certainly a master of expressing and invoking emotion as his talents shine in one great piano stanza after another. His playing is no less poetic than the wonderful lyrics of these compositions.
Just when I thought I had this group figured out as a great duo the contrabass comes thought and grabs my attention. Reminiscent of a sound I’ve long admired where the base stops everything else and draws the spotlight and brings everyone to the same unmistakable conclusion, yes its that base making the music isn’t it. Jan Flubacher’s bass and Philip Behrends’ drums walk us down the path and play the central role in the “In My Garden” track showcasing their immense talents.
There are many signs that this band will become known and that their first production is indeed a preface to more great things to follow. It turns out that Esha means desire in Sanskrit (a sacred language of Hinduism and Buddhism). I think there are many signs here, that Esha, the band has the desire and the talent to entertain us for many years to come.
Thanks to the wonders of the Internet upstart bands like Esha have greater reach than ever giving us all a chance to enjoy these new sounds. The Esha Preface CD is available on Amazon.com or you can pick up the MP3s also from Amazon.com or you can pick up the MP3s as part of a free no risk trial membership to eMusic by clicking the banner below. Do your self a favor and add these excellent tunes to your collection.
I was listening to CBC Radio 2′s Tonic the other night. This is a great commercial free jazz music show. You can follow CBC Radio 2′s Tonic on twitter @cbcr2tonic and I definitely check out their play lists from previous days if you’re looking to discover some new to you jazz music.
The intriguing thing on the show which inspired this post was some information about Count Basie and some new tunes by The Count Basie Orchestra. Yeah, you heard it right, new tunes. The report started off with a historical review about how Count Basie got stranded in Kansas City, when it the blues / jazz center of the United States, and how he formed the Count Basie Orchestra out of members of Bennie Moten’s band after Bennie’s death. Then how he was brought to New York by John Hammond and the commercial success enjoyed in the later year. I really expected what would follow would be some classic Count Basie tunes from some of my favorite like these:
But instead the follow up was mention of the fact that even though Count Basie died in 1984 his orchestra continues to record as “a ghost orchestra“. Recording in the spirit of Count Basie I suppose. This really intrigued me. When I went out to find some of the more recent recordings I discovered the Count Basie Orchestra is still active on the Jazz circuit. I wonder if there could be any original members left? Here is some of the most interesting stuff I found out there.
I also found a ton of Count Basie tunes up on eMusic including the 1999 release Swing Shift
by The Count Basie Orchestra. If you’ve been thinking of joining eMusic or picking up some Count Basie it might be a good time to sign up and get some great tunes for free as part of the trial subscription.
Its freezing cold up here in Canada so I’m still inside checking out all the 2010 Grammy award nominees. So the nominees for the 2010 Grammy Best Latin Jazz Album are: