Great Jazz Albums of the Past 50 Years

Jazz Times has a feature covering the fifty best jazz albums of the past fifty years. I was a little disappointed in the list, to be honest. I’m going to use this thread as a place to write some albums I might have chosen. But first, I’ll go over some picks I agreed with as well as some that puzzled me.

2 thoughts on “Great Jazz Albums of the Past 50 Years

  1. Don Bryon, the clarinetist–two of his albums make the list, which I a little suprising, although I did like his album Tuskegee Experiments, which was the first album I heard Bill Frisell. (I sought the album out after hearing Frisell in a live concert with Byron.) I checked out Byron’s stuff over the years, but I sort of lost interest in his music. This makes me want to check out his re-examine his music.

    Speaking of Frisell, none of his albums made the list, which, to me, seems wrong. If I had to choose one album, I think I might choose This Land, as it captures his Americana-jazz aesthetic in organic and mature form. At the time, the album felt like he reached a high point he’d been striving for.

    Over time, my sense is that it seems harder to find jazz musicians with really original voice–the kind of musician a listener could identify in a few notes. Jazz guitarists seem to be the exception. Frisell–and other guitarists like John Scofield, Pat Metheny, Wayne Krantz, and Mary Halvorson–are good examples in my opinion. Somehow, I’d try to find a way to get them in the list. For Metheny, I’d probably choose (Still) Life Talking or Bright Size Life.

    More later.

  2. I’m going to mention albums that I would put in there. Here’s the first.

    Brian Blade Fellowship–Perceptual

    I discovered this album at a time when I was actively looking for jazz musicians that were pushing the envelop. I heard clips of this at the New Orleans Tower Records store, and rushed to buy the cd (one of the few times this has happened). The music may not be earth-shatteringly innovative, but it definitely departs from the 60’s era post-bop, favored by younger jazz musician in the 90s, while not following far outside of it (a la free jazz and fusion). The music also felt totally organic, unlike some of the more post-modern hybrids that could have slap-dash quality to them.

    I love the two guitarists in this, particularly Dave Easley, rockin like Hendrix on pedal-steel. Jon Cowherd’s compositions are really strong, and I like how he uses the Fender Rhodes, without making it sound dated (from the 70s).

    I like the way many of these songs/performances develop, as well, particularly the ebb and flow of the energy and volume. In a way, it feels like a harbinger of things to come later–maybe especially for those who jazz musicians into Pat Metheny and Bill Frisell. The BBF takes those influences and do something interesting and original with it.

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