It doesn’t matter if you’re a millionaire, a billionaire, or barely scraping by – everyone can listen to the exact same music. Audiophiles might disagree and swear that thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment is necessary for true enjoyment. Still, anyone can buy a CD (or MP3 online) and be affected by a piece of music in the same way.
Jazz has a powerful transformative quality. It may not get the headlines or have the Top 40 success of pop, rock, hip hop, and R & B, but that’s the point. This is not throwaway music that will be forgotten in a month. Jazz songs and albums are created with passion by musicians who have dedicated their lives to their craft. It’s for the ages.
There is a lot of good jazz coming out these days. But right now, I want to introduce you to five classics of the genre.
- The Dave Brubeck Quartet’s Time Out
You’ve no doubt heard the most popular track from this album, “Take Five.” It’s a mainstay of movie, TV, and commercial scores. This album is also known for its use of time signatures (in simple terms, the beat) not usually used in jazz.
- Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue
This classic disc has been cited as the best jazz album ever by many critics. Davis assembled a group of session musicians for the project. And with almost no rehearsal, they started recording with just brief instructions on what scales and melodies to use as the basis for improvisation.
- Charles Mingus’s Mingus Ah Um
Many critics consider this album to be heavily influenced by Mingus’s love of early jazz innovators like Jelly Roll Morton, Duke Ellington, and Lester Young. It has been included in the Library of Congress’s recorded music collection.
- Ornette Coleman’s The Shape of Jazz to Come
Coleman was a pioneer of “free jazz,” an avant-garde style that split the jazz community in the late 1950s. This album introduced Coleman’s unusual style to a wide audience. Some critics found his work to be almost unlistenable, while others considered it to be groundbreaking.
- Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto’s Getz/Gilberto (featuring Antonio Carlos Jobim)
Yes, this album features the track “The Girl from Ipanema.” But, blending jazz and Brazilian bossa nova, it is full of less-well-known gems too.
Listening to the above classics will give you a basis to appreciate all the jazz you’ll ever hear. And you’ll get a feel for how they have influenced musicians in every genre.